Huffpost Parents

Tonight's Table Talk: How One Teenager Took A Stand For Change

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Emma Stydahar, 17, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., left, Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, Maine, and Natasha Williams, 17, of East Flatbush, N.Y., are shown at a
Emma Stydahar, 17, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., left, Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, Maine, and Natasha Williams, 17, of East Flatbush, N.Y., are shown at a "Seventeen" magaine protest outside Hearst Corp. headquarters, Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in New York.

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

Open a copy of almost any fashion magazine, and you’ll come face-to-face with beautiful men and women (or girls and boys) in trendy clothes. Chances are they don’t look a lot like you and your friends. Many people see these photos and feel bad about themselves, wondering: How can anybody look this perfect?

Maine teenager Julia Bluhm felt bad when she saw these pictures, too -– so she decided to fight back. She took a stand by writing a petition addressed to the editor of “Seventeen.”

In the petition, she said: "Here’s what lots of girls don’t know. 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."

To put it more bluntly –- as Bluhm told The Huffington Post last week, when she came to New York to meet “Seventeen’s” editor in person -- “Nobody’s photoshopped in real life.” According to Bluhm’s petition on Change.org, more than 65,000 people agree with her.

In her petition, Bluhm also made a specific request: “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.” And while “Seventeen” editor Ann Shoket has complimented Bluhm’s drive, The New York Times reports that she’s made “no promises … about publishing an unretouched photo spread.”

Whether or not "Seventeen" ever agrees to the terms of Bluhm’s petition, it’s clear that this teenager has raised an issue many people feel strongly about. And there’s no telling how far her arguments will go. As one commenter on Julia’s online petition wrote: “Why only one [spread] a month? What is wrong with reality 24/7?”

Questions for discussion:
  • Do you think the photographs you see in magazines are “too perfect”? Does this bother you?
  • What makes a person beautiful? Do you need makeup and a "perfect" body shape to be attractive?
  • Is there a magazine you read that does a particularly good job of making kids or adults look “real”?
  • What’s one thing you see in the world around you that you want to change? What are the first steps you can take toward making that change happen?

In her new cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.