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The 14-year-old girl who staged a protest against Seventeen magazine’s use of Photoshop has won her battle.
Two months after delivering a petition with 84,000 signatures to the editor-in-chief, Julia Bluhm has convinced Seventeen against altering and airbrushing its models to tiny and blemish-free proportions.Seventeen’s editor-in-chief, Ann Shoket, responded to the campaign in the magazine’s latest issue with a letter to readers, vowing that the magazine will never change the shapes of girls’ bodies or faces.
Ms Shoket acknowledged that the magazine had been contacted by readers who felt it was digitally enhancing photos and wondered if the magazine had ‘gone too far,’ after teenagers gathered outside Seventeen magazine’s New York office to protest Seventeen’s fervent use of airbrushing two months ago. The eight-grade student started the online petition to the teen magazine in hopes it would change its Photoshopping policies and in turn help promote more positive, and realistic, body images among teen readers.The teenagers also demanded that editors of the Hearst title ‘commit to printing one unaltered – real – photo spread per month.’
Miss Bluhm wrote onTuesday in a message posted on Change.org, a social petition facilitation website.’They’re saying they won’t use Photoshop to digitally alter their models. This is a huge victory, and I’m so unbelievably happy.’After her success with Seventeen magazine, Miss Bluhm has now decided to tackle Teen Vogue, posting a new online petition asking the teen fashion magazine to follow Seventeen’s example and ‘pledge not to alter any model’s body or face and to celebrate beauty in all its forms’. Miss Bluhm said during the May protest outside Seventeen magazine’s offices: ‘I know much how much pictures in the media have an effect in the self esteem of girls and their body image.’
Julia Bluhm, 14, stood outside the magazine’s Midtown headquarters and led a protest against the industry’s fervent use of Photoshop, before hand delivering her petition with 84,000 signatures
The magazine said it invited Miss Bluhm to its offices after seeing her petition, called Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images Of Real Girls! Ms Shokot’s letter to readers also provides insight into the magazine’s photography and why it decided to create a Body Peace Treaty, endorsed by the National Eating Disorders Association and the Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls, which it hopes will help young girls stop obsessing about their bodies.
Shokot said Seventeen retouches images, removing wrinkles in fabric, stray hairs, pimples and bra straps, but never alters the way the girls ‘really’ look. She admitted the petition campaign made her realise that the magazine had to be more public about its commitment, which led to the Body Peace Treaty. The treaty contains eight conditions that Seventeen magazine’s staff must abide by, including ‘never change girls’ body or face shapes (Never have, never will).’The treaty says the magazine will ‘celebrate every kind of beauty in our pages. Without a range of body types, skin tones, heights, hair textures, the magazine and the world would be boring.’
The teenager originally uploaded the Seventeen magazine petition on the campaigning website change.org.Spread through social media, Miss Bluhm’s petition gained around 6,000 signatures in ten days. With the help of a press release from a San Francisco PR firm, major news sites and blogs picked up the story and the number quickly grew to over 20,000. ’This is really exciting,’ Miss Bluhm told Jezebel in May. ‘I now know that there are a lot of girls who feel the same way as I do about this.’Miss Bluhm, who is also a regular blogger for the ‘girl-fueled’ activist group Spark Summit, an organization that fights the sexualization of girls, wrote in her petition that ‘those pretty women that we see in magazines are fake.’She continued: ‘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.’
She also claimed that the constant use of airbrushing has led to low self-esteem levels among her friends.
The petition read: ‘Girls want to be accepted, appreciated and liked. And when they don’t fit the criteria, some girls like to fix themselves. This can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression and low self-esteem.’
Miss Bluhm, who is also enrolled in ballet classes at her middle school, recalled some of the comments she hears at school, in the petition. They include ‘It’s a fat day’ and ‘I ate well today but I still feel fat.’The outspoken teenager also targeted the media, claiming that it ‘tells us that pretty girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.’While such criticism is often voiced and discussed among adults, the words are less commonly heard through children or teenagers.
Well done Julia for speaking up !