14-Year-Old Takes a Stand Against Airbrushed Images in Seventeen Magazine

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Do you get frustrated when you flip through a magazine and see advertisements full of models without a single blemish, line or hint of cellulite?

One Maine teenager is protesting the use of airbrushing and Photoshopping in Seventeen magazine, and her cause has gained the support of tens of thousands of people.

Julia Bluhm, 14, has gotten more than 48,000 signatures for her online petition to “give girls images of real girls” in the pages of Seventeen magazine. The eighth-grader asked the magazine to commit to printing one unaltered photo spread per month.

In the petition written to persuade the editors, Bluhm wrote that girls are deeply influenced by the perfect images they see in the magazines and rip their own bodies and faces apart when they themselves fail to live up what they don’t realize are Photoshopped, airbrushed standards.

“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 American, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up,” Bluhm continued.

Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Is it really too much to ask the magazine to print ONE SINGLE spread each month that shows a real girl?

Apparently yes.

Seventeen's editors met with Bluhm 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.”

Translation: We sat Julia down and gave her a little talking to about the fashion industry. We think she now understands that girls need to stay insecure, self-conscious and obsessed with their appearance - honestly, how else would we be able to sell advertising space to all the cosmetic, hair and clothing advertisers who want to help girls look better?

In fact, Seventeen editors told the New York Times that they felt “slightly aggrieved that they had been singled out for picture-doctoring practices that are common in virtually all glossy fashion magazines.”

This feels like a pretty standard version of the classic teenage rationalization, "but everyone else is doing it!"

What's up with that Seventeen? If all the other magazines jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? 

You can sign Julia's petition online at change.org/petitions/seventeen-magazine-give-girls-images-of-real-girls

Megan Sayers is the managing editor for ModernMom. Follow her on Twitter @MeganSayers 

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