Seventeen to Show Girls 'as they Really are' in Light of Teen's Petition

In August's issue of Seventeen, editor in chief Anna Shoket included a Body Peace Treaty that vowed to never alter images of their models and to only include “real girls and models who are healthy.” The pledge resulted from an April campaign led by Maine teen Julia Bluhm.

Bluhm, 14, had grown tired of how images of airbrushed models were affecting young girls' perceptions of themselves. To fight the media's idealized portrayal of women's bodies, Bluhm started a petition to request that Seventeen print one unaltered photo spread per month. SPARK, a grassroots organization seeking to blunt the media's impact on girls' body image, campaigned with her as Bluhm was one of their members.

The petition had been signed by over 84,000 people from around the world by May, after which Bluhm and many petitioners protested in front of Seventeen's New York headquarters. There, they held signs and set up their own fake photo shoot to show that real girls could be beautiful, healthy models.

To Bluhm's surprise, Seventeen promised to go beyond her petition's demands.

“I hoped that Seventeen would do this but I didn't think it would actually happen,” said Bluhm. “It's been really exciting for me.”

The entire Seventeen editorial staff signed the Body Peace Treaty enclosed in Shoket's letter, which included a statement that it was time for Seventeen to be “more public” about their commitment to promote a healthy body image for women. Shoket also enclosed a before-and-after image of a model to show readers what changes are often undertaken to make photos publication-ready.

But this isn't the end for Bluhm or SPARK. 

“[The result] is huge,” wrote SPARK on a new petition site. “[It's the] beginning of a revolution in the way girls see themselves across the girls' magazine industry.”

“That's why we're now asking Teen Vogue to do the same,” the update goes on to reveal.

In May, Teen Vogue pledged to not use underage models or models with eating disorders in their photo spreads. Bluhm and SPARK aim to inspire the publication to take an even bigger leap in promoting “real girls” as the “new standard of beauty.”

So far, the petition has over 11,000 signatures.