Feministy Teen Sticks It To Seventeen Magazine About Using Photoshopped Images

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Seventeen MagazineUnlike some, I’m all about children utilizing the Internet for change. While sheltering children and teenagers from the Internet sounds more like something a “naive little pregger” would do, teaching kids how to use these tools effectively can connect them to causes and conversations that truly matter. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs aren’t just spaces for young kids to brag about their new smartphone or share images of their blossoming cleavage. If used properly, Internet can give kids a seat at the metaphoric table and participate in important dialogues. Like Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old from Maine, who is pushing back on Seventeen‘s use of photoshop with an online petition.

The eighth grader, blogger for SPARK, and ballerina, writes in her petition that she wants Seventeen to publish one un-photoshopped photo spread in each issue. She elaborates on how she, as the magazine’s ideal market, objects to the airbrushed images:

I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me. For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up. I know how hurtful these photoshopped images can be. I’m a teenage girl, and I don’t like what I see. None of us do.

Julia shares tidbits from her ballet class, which include such choice lines as “it’s a fat day” and “I ate well but I still feel fat.” She describes how the term “pretty” has been hijacked by the media to describe only one type of girl: “impossibly” thin and blemish-free.

The dedicated young woman’s message appears to have struck a cord with parents and young people, as at the time of this posting, she has accumulated over 17,000 signatures.

Paula Olson, a mother, commented on the teenager’s petition:

My daughter is only 6, but I’m already teaching her about the deceptions in the media. I think it’s important that girls AND boys know the reality behind the images they see in print and on-screen. I’m signing because we all really want more true-to-life images for all our children and ourselves. Way to go, Julia! Great petition.

Kim Stevenson, also a mother, wrote:

I have a 7-year old who told me she was fat yesterday. She is not fat. We have to save our daughters.

The teen is reportedly heading to New York City to present her petition to the Seventeen offices in person, and even conducting a “mock” photo shoot as part of her demonstration. Her mother is accompanying her.

While putting some pressure on publications that freely exercise rampant photoshopping is effective, getting children to even recognize these images as distorted is a powerful step. Some British classrooms began giving elementary school-aged students classes on how to recognize photoshop for the sake of their own well-being in our media-centric world. Either way, both tactics acknowledge that mindless consumption of these images are threatening to children and their development.