Earlier this week, the Internet was abuzz as Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old Seventeen reader, officially petitioned the teen magazine to feature non-airbrushed photos. Bluhm used Change.org to submit her petition entitled “Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls!”
The middle school student is taking action, claiming that the constant ambush of overly photoshopped images has caused her and her peers to develop low self-esteem about their own bodies – something that women of all ages face on a day-to-day basis due to the media’s emphasis on appearance. And while the photoshopping of models has been the center of an ongoing debate for the past few years, this is the first time a young girl has directly addressed the problem and been reasonably successful.
Bluhm poignantly writes in her petition letter, “Those ‘pretty women’ that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often photoshopped, airbrushed, edited to look thinner, and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life.” Because of this, Bluhm states,” I’m asking Seventeen magazine to commit to printing one unaltered – real – photo spread per month. I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me.”
While Bluhm is addressing a fatal flaw in our image-obsessed society, Seventeen magazine has been extremely vocal on the topic of positive body image, especially through their ongoing “Body Peace” campaign. Just last month, Seventeen asked their readers to tweet photos of themselves in bikinis with a peace sign drawn over a favorite part of their body – no alterations and no photoshopping. This “Peace, Love, Bikinis” post inspired readers to be comfortable in their own skin, so perhaps Seventeen isn’t the worst offender when it comes to unrealistic female body images.
Seventeen’s editor-in-chief, Ann Shocket, has handled the situation well. Julia Bluhm was invited to the Seventeen offices in New York this morning to meet with Shocket and discuss her campaign. After the meeting, Seventeen released a statement explaining, “We’re proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue – it’s exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers – so we invited her to our office to meet with editor-in-chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and that’s how we present them. We feature real girls in our pages and there is no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity.”
Bluhm responded with her own statement on Change.org: “The fact that Seventeen’s editor-in-chief met with me in person proves that the voices of teen girls everywhere are getting through. While I would still change some of the ways Seventeen portrays girls, I’m encouraged that they’re willing to listen to me and the 30,000 people who’ve signed my petition. Seventeen’s invited me to work with them on the issue, which means we girls – Seventeen’s readers – are finally being heard loud and clear. It’s really exciting.”
If you want to read more of Bluhm’s petition to Seventeen, check it out at Change.org. The petition already has over 44,000 signatures, a number that is exponentially rising every day. As a strong, independent, and beautiful collegiette, how do you feel about Bluhm’s petition? Do you agree with her stance? Do you think Seventeen is addressing the petition appropriately? Let us know in the comments!