Celebs, editors and health professionals have called on magazines to halt the excessive use of airbrushing for its negative impact on impressionable teen girls. Now teens themselves are joining the conversation, saying that enough is enough.
13-year-old Julia Bluhm submitted a petition through Change.org entitled "Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls!" Bluhm, a middle school student from Maine, writes that the constant ambush of overly Photoshopped images has caused her and her peers to develop low self-esteem about their own bodies:
Those “pretty women” that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often photoshopped, air-brushed, 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.
That’s why 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.
It's a point well-taken, considering more and more adults have begun to demand the same. Last June, the American Medical Association adopted a policy against the altering of photographs "in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image." In February, Cindi Leive of Glamour told readers that her magazine would take a stronger stand and ask photographers "not to manipulate body size in the photos we commission, even if a celebrity or model requests a digital diet." In March, Intelligent Life mag published an un-airbrushed cover of Cate Blanchett, using a photo that "is at least trying to reflect real life."
Of course, there is still plenty of Photoshop afoot. But to hear teen girls acknowledge the damaging effects of airbrushing themselves makes the issue more urgent -- "all the struggling girls all over America," writes Bluhm, are affected.
Read Bluhm's petition to Seventeen at Change.org and, if you feel so inclined, add your name to the 7,000 already listed. Do you agree with Bluhm's sentiments or even witnessed them firsthand? Let us know in the comments.
"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."
UPDATE, 7/3/2012: Seventeen put its money where its mouth is in the July 2012 issue. In her Editor's Letter, editor-in-chief Ann Shoket writes:
"Recently I've heard from some girls who were concerned that we'd strayed from [our] promise to show real girls as they really are. [...] And while we work hard behind the scenes to make sure we're being authentic, your notes made me realize that it was time for us to be more public about our commitment. So we created a Body Peace Treaty for the magazine staff -- a list of vows on how we run things here so we always made you feel amazing!"
Click through our slideshow to see celebrities who've gone un-photoshopped.
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