Julia Bluhm (center)
It's easy to make an online petition. It's more challenging to gather up supporters, go out in the rain and make your point in person. But that's what Julia Bluhm, the 13-year-old behind the Change.org petition "Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls!", did this morning. Bluhm, her mother and several representatives of Spark Media gathered in front of the Hearst Tower, home to Seventeen, to protest the magazine's use of Photoshop and deliver her signatures to the magazine's executive editor.Source
"I've always just known how Photoshop can have a big effect on girls and their body image and how they feel about themselves," Bluhm told The Huffington Post. "You need to see something realistic -- you need to see a reflection of what truly represents a teenage girl nowadays."
Seventeen and the media in general, she said, fails to do that. So her petition, directed at Seventeen's editor-in-chief, asks that the magazine print one unaltered photo spread in each issue.
While the negative impact of Photoshop has been discussed by adults at length, it is clear that Bluhm's peers feel just as strongly. When she and a friend brought a magazine to school to show their friends, she said, it elicited the same reactions: "They agreed. A lot of them thought that the images were fake and they compared themselves to those images -- and it didn't make them feel good about their own bodies and their own skin."
The consequences extend beyond low self-esteem. Another Spark Media blogger on the scene, Crystal Ogar, explained that the negative health impacts, proven by the American Psychological Association, include "higher rates of depression, higher rates of self-harm and eating disorders."
And a skinny body, said Spark Media blogger Kaye Toal, is just one facet of the cookie-cutter image on the pages of teen magazines:"The media that we're fed says that girls are sex objects and they have to be thin, white, heterosexual and cisgender, and that's a very narrow portion of women. Even the women who do fit that, dont fit this amazing perfected ideal because it simply doesn't exist."
Or, as Julia told us, "Nobody's photoshopped in real life."