Earlier in the spring, Julia Bluhm, a fourteen year-old teen from Maine petitioned that Seventeen, a popular girl’s fashion magazine, feature atleast one photo-spread a month featuring completely un-altered and air brush-free models. She started an online petition, which quickly garnered attention and thousands of signatures. At a meeting with Ann Shockley, Seventeen‘s Editor-In-Chief, the magazine agreed with Julia’s petitions, but no firm commitments were made.
On July 3, however, Ann Shoket announced that all of Seventeen‘s staff had signed an eight-point Body Peace Treaty where they vow to:
- Help make your life amazing! You have big dreams and we want you to achieve every single one of them!
- Never change girls’ body or face shapes. (Never have, never will.)
- Celebrate every kind of beauty in our pages. Without a range of body types, skin tones, heights and hair textures, the magazine–and the world–would be boring!
- Always feature real girls an models who are healthy. Regardless of clothing size, being healthy is about honoring your natural shape.
- Be totally up-front about what goes into our photoshoots. You can go behind the scenes on our Tumblr (seventeen.tumblr.com) and see the whole shebang!
- Help you make the best choices for your body–food that fuels you, excercise that energizes you–so you can feel your absolute best each day.
- Give you the confidence to walk into any room and own it. Say be-bye to those nagging insecurities that you’re not good enough or pretty enough– they’re holding you back from being awesome in the world!
- Listen carefully to you. If something in the magazine confuses you or makes you feel bad, we want to hear about it.
It is fantastic that a publication the size of Seventeen is finally paying attention to a teenage girl’s criticism! What’s even greater: the fact that they are working to right their wrongs.
Admittedly, there are other fashion magazines aimed at teens who arte even bigger users of Photoshop and air-brush (hello, Teen Vouge!!), and feature
only models of a certain size, etc. After coming under-fire from the Media and several other organizations for hiring under-age and un-healthy looking girls to walk the runway and appear in photoshoots last New York Fashion Week, many designers and magazines (like Vouge) moved to make ammends: they said they would be more careful about who they hire; they would try to hire models who didn’t look like twigs, but those that had a more realistic shape. They would also impose a stricter control over the ages of their models, so as to make sure no girls under the age of sixteen (16! apparently sixteen year-olds are mature enough to deal with rejections from designers, and possible sexual abuse/harrassment from photographers, etc.) were hired.
Everywhere you look, be it in school, at the mall and even AT THE GYM, you see girls and women wishing their bodies looked a certain way, or that their skin was blemish-free and perfect like that of the models in the magazines. On TV all you hear sometimes are women ragging on each other about how they look, and using the other’s insecurities about their bodies to BRING THEM DOWN. You see tweens and teens comparing their bodies to older models’! It happens to even those of us who actively fight with ourselves when we get too judgey about ourselves. I have seen it happen in my bedroom when my sister brings down those damned ‘Get In Shape For Your Crush/ Valentine’s Day/ Spring Break/Summer/ The Holidays/ The New Year’ inserts she gets in Seventeen and Girl’s Life, and she starts “Oh, I need to loose all this belly fat…” and “Ugh, my thighs are so big…”. Truth is, she still has the body of a little girl. She has baby fat, and she’s being told that because she isn’t twiggy and blemish-free she isn’t perfect.
Thanks, Julia Bluhm for helping us all see that we can change things , and thanks to the folks at Seventeen who pledged to help make things right. ♦