Just last month, 14-year-old Julia Bluhm was invited to Seventeen magazine’s HQ, where she met with editor-in-chief Anne Shoket and presented her petition asking the magazine to run just one non-photoshopped spread per issue. As Jezebel put it, the magazine said “thanks but no thanks” and did not appear to have any plans to listen to Bluhm’s pleas--not to mention the 25,000 others she brought along with her.
Recently, the number of signatures more than tripled with 84,000 total, and just this week, Shoket officially announced in her letter from the editor that Seventeen has signed what the magazine calls a “Body Peace Treaty.” This includes several promises, the main one being that the magazine will never change a girls' body or face in any photos—though Shoket just couldn’t resist the temptation to add in the claim that they “never have, never will.” But, nonetheless, a well-deserved pat on the back for both Bluhm and Shoket are in order.
Along with this victory comes a new petition, but this time it’s targeted at Teen Vogue. Started by Bluhm’s 16-year-old friend Carina Cruz, the petition asks Teen Vogue to follow in Seventeen's footsteps and stop running overly photoshopped photos of girls. Cruz spoke to NPR this morning, along with BUST’s very own managing editor Emily Rems, about the importance of running images of real women in the very magazines that young girls grow up with.
Rems discussed the notion of responsible photoshop in the NPR interview--as Seventeen's editor-in-chief alluded to in her official announcement--which means using photoshop to change the color of a background or to smooth a flyaway strand of hair, for instance. She uses the example that BUST will remove a blemish in order to "make you look like you would on your best possible day." This is a practice that Seventeen is just starting, BUST has been doing all along, and we can only cross our fingers that Teen Vogue will follow suit.
Another obstacle in the magazine industry, Rems points out, is the fact that a majority of designers will only send samples of their clothes in a size 2 or 4 at the absolute largest. From my time working in a women’s retail store, I found that the aftermath of everyone’s back-to-school shopping was a slew of 00 jeans in nearly every variety—the average girl wasn't butying them simply because the average girl didn't fit into them! Nothing too groundbreaking here, but yet, these smaller sizes are the ones that designers want to see models wearing in magazines. And for some designers, there are no exceptions. Perhaps the next petition endeavor?
In regards to her victory with Seventeen, Bluhm wrote on the now-closed petition page, “This is a huge victory, and I’m so unbelievably happy…If we can be heard by one magazine, we can do it with another. We are sparking a change!” Teen girls’ self-esteem is somewhat at the mercy of magazine giants like Seventeen and Teen Vogue, and the least they could do is to run pictures of real young women that are non-computer-generated, no? Especially to tone down the presence of photoshopped advertisements that, unfortunately, are not part of Seventeen's "Body Peace Treaty." Check out the full NPR interview with Carina Cruz and our very own Emily Rems, below. And support Cruz's noble efforts by signing the Teen Vogue petition here.
Images courtesy of Huffington Post and NPR