We Want Real Girls: A 14 Year-Old’s Stand Against Seventeen Magazine!


Remember flipping through magazines with your girlfriends when you were 14? Remember how all of those “perfectly” thin models without a single blemish, line, or trace of cellulite made you feel?

Well, Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old teenager from Maine is tired of seeing all those airbrushed and Photoshopped models and she’s tired of hearing all her friends complain about how they feel fat and ugly.

“I look at the pictures and they just don’t look like girls I see walking down the street and stuff,” she said.

One day, after thumbing through Seventeen, Julia had an idea.

An avid Spark blogger, a project that fights the sexualization of girls, Julia decided to talk about the subject with the other bloggers. Then she started an online petition drive through Change.org asking Seventeen to “commit to printing one unaltered — real — photo spread per month.”

Julia has collected more than 48,000 signatures.

In the petition, Bluhm wrote that girls are deeply influenced by the perfect images they see in the magazines. She said that they end up tearing their own bodies and faces apart when they fail to live up to the unrealistic standards that these Photoshopped and airbrushed images set.

“Here’s what a lot of girls don’t know,” she wrote in the petition, “those ‘pretty women’ that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often Photoshopped, airbrushed and 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.”

“For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up.”

Julia’s request for the magazine to print just one unaltered image a month sounds reasonable, right? Well, apparently, it’s not.

Seventeen’s editors met with Julia recently and released the following statement:

“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.”

In other words: We sat Julia down and gave her a little talking to about the fashion industry. We explained that girls need to stay insecure, self-conscious and obsessed with their appearance so that we can run our business and sell more advertising space.

Is it really too much to ask that one of the leading teen magazines print JUST ONE spread depicting a real, unaltered image of a girl?

You should be ashamed of yourselves Seventeen! Why not step up to the plate, show some real unaltered girls and start setting the bar for other teen magazines?

After all, other magazines have been making headlines these days—but in a more positive light. Conde Nast International recently announced that its 19 international editions of Vogue magazine will no longer carry photographs of models younger than 16 or models who “appear to have an eating disorder.”

When a leading magazine like Vogue takes a stand and announces its new policy banning underage and underfed women—it’s a triumph not just for what it does, but for what it represents.

Now, if only Seventeen magazine could take a queue and start setting a better example for the young girls that idolize its pages…

We applaud Vogue for taking a step in the right direction and we hope that other magazines (like maybe Seventeen?) will soon follow in their footsteps.

What do you think about the altered and Photoshopped images that appear in magazines today?

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