Picture a magazine cover with no Photoshop. Picture seeing photos of women who look just like you spread out on those glossy sheets. This is what Julia Bluhm pictured when she created a petition asking Seventeen Magazine to commit to just one unaltered photo a month. The fourteen-year-old activist from Maine is a member of SPARK, a non-profit organization that “demands an end to the sexualization of women and girls in the media.” Bad-ass.
Bluhm draws on her own personal experience, mentioning the body bashing that she hears from other girls in her ballet class. While many of us shrug off flippant comments such as “today’s a fat day” or “I need to work that ice cream off”, Bluhm critiques them, drawing a link between the constant barrage of Photoshopped images and girls’ shrinking self-esteem.
The two main arguments for not using Photoshop are:
To combat this negativity, Bluhm went to New York to deliver her petition to the editors of Seventeen in person. In spite of the vocal support for Bluhm’s petition, editors took a pass on the whole sans airbrushing idea. A statement issued by Seventeen says, “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. 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, thanks for your opinion, but Photoshop sells.
Bluhm remains undeterred, saying, “While I would still change some of the ways Seventeen portrays girls, I’m encouraged that they’re willing to listen to me and the people who’ve signed my petition. Seventeen‘s invited me to work with them on this issue, which means we girls — Seventeen‘s readers — are finally being heard loud and clear. It’s really exciting.”
Bluhm’s petition, as of May 21st, has over seventy-five thousand signatures— go here to add yours! Let’s see if we can make a change.