Seventeen responds to airbrushing complaints

July 6th, 2012

Remember the petition started by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm who wanted to put an end to the use of doctored images in magazines aimed at her age group like Seventeen? the magazine has now responded, and it seems her campaign has been something of a success. Their promise, published in the latest issue has been reproduced below (click to enlarge):

so what led up to Seventeen’s response, and how did they do it? After her petition became widely publicised and had already attracted thousands of signatures from around the world, Bluhm joined forces with an organisation called Miss Representation that challenges the way women are represented in the media.

Along with their #KeepItReal social media campaign that spanned Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms they heaped pressure on women’s and girls’ magazines across the world to stop photoshopping models’ images on their pages.

But the battle hasn’t been won yet: Teen Vogue is the next publication under fire for using doctored images to alter models’ body shapes, and you can sign the petition to try and stop their photoshop-happy ways here

How do you feel about the response from Seventeen: does it go far enough to address the issues? Personally I remain a little sceptical: there’s a condescending tone in the Editor’s letter (which you can read in full here) and I’m not altogether comfortable with the statement “we want every girl to stop obsessing over what her body looks like”. a little more responsibility should have been admitted to here. 

I’ll never forget reading a similar letter to readers in another teen magazine when I was myself a teenager, and recoiling at the hypocrisy. while it seemed clear that the publishers of the magazine did not hope for anorexia in their readers (the letter was all about how we ‘shouldn’t starve ourselves’), the refusal to accept any part in peddling what was at that time obsession with the ‘waif’ look was startling. As was the sign-off, which cheerfully asked ‘Got that, girl? Good’. It would be encouraging to think that 15 years later, things are at least moving in the right direction.

I’m also wondering if anyone is going to challenge the assertion that the magazine has never used image manipulation to alter body shape: isn’t this why we had a petition in the first place? But I may be looking for the moon on a stick here. Clearly progress has been made, and we can only applaud the brave efforts of Bluhm and her supporters.

Seventeen responds to airbrushing complaints

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