Fourteen-year-old activist Julia Bluhm's dream of a Photoshop-free Seventeen is coming true, as the magazine has officially pledged to curb the practice of airbrushing fashion photographs within its pages.
Here's more about the bold girl who took it upon herself to take on Seventeen magazine -- and succeeded -- in an effort to help teens like her feel good about their appearance.
For years fashion magazines have regularly used airbrushing, and now photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop, to alter photographs in order to make them appear flawless.
The practice makes for pristine pictures, but 14-year-old activist Julia Bluhm contends that it also presents an unattainable image of beauty that contributes to the low self-esteem and body issues many young women struggle with every day.
In April she launched a protest movement aimed at getting Seventeen to promise not to use Photoshop to airbrush its photographs of young women.
Now Julia Bluhm has announced online that thanks to her campaign, the magazine issued a pledge to its readers detailing its policy on airbrushing, promising that it will do everything its power to address the issues raised by Bluhm's protest:
Seventeen listened! They're saying they won't use photoshop to digitally alter their models! Bluhm wrote in a victory message on her massively popular pledge's website. This is a huge victory, and I'm so unbelievably happy.
Read what exactly Seventeen will do to address the issues raised by Bluhm by clicking this link to see a photo of the magazine's pledge, which has been agreed to by the publication's entire editorial staff.
Here's what you need to know about Julia Bluhm and her efforts to end the practice of retouching photographs of models in magazines:
1. She gathered support online: The teenager set up a petition a couple of months ago at Change.org called Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls! with the hope of getting 15,000 people to sign in solidarity with her mission to end magazine Photoshopping. Julia Bluhm's petition -- which you can still sign at the above link -- had 14,000 signatures on May 1, and in the two months since ballooned to nearly 85,000 signatures. The petition asks for Seventeen to commit to printing one unaltered -- real -- photo spread per month, as Bluhm wants to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that's supposed to be for me.
2. Julia Bluhm's mission is aimed at helping to address self-esteem issues: Julia Bluhm is on a mission to help address serious problems like eating disorders, self-esteem issues and more by exposing that the perfect image of what a woman should look like that many girls have been indoctrinated to believe in is not even real. As she explains in her petition: To girls today, the word 'pretty' means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It's because the media tells us that 'pretty' girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin. Here's what lots of girls don't know. Those 'pretty women' that we see in magazines are fake.
3. The girl has an all-American story: Julia Bluhm is not some rich celebrity working to make a difference in the world. In fact, she's just a Maine teenager who takes ballet and wants her friends and fellow dancers to see that they are beautiful even though the media fill them with feelings of inadequacy. As she explains in her petition: I'm in a ballet class with a bunch of high-school girls. On a daily basis I hear comments like: 'It's a fat day,' and 'I ate well today, but I still feel fat.' Ballet dancers do get a lot of flak about their bodies, but it's not just ballet dancers who feel the pressure to be 'pretty.' It's everyone.
4. You can make your own anti-Photoshopping art: Though Julia Bluhm has a modest tale, she is part of an activism group called Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge (SPARK). SPARK has set up a contest on its Powered By Girl website that allows supporters of Julia Bluhm's message to make spoof covers of Seventeen magazine and upload them to the Internet to embarrass the magazine and show the world that they disagree with retouching photographs of young women, even though the magazine has forgone the practice. Have fun participating in the contest yourself by clicking on this link.
5. She's not done advocating yet: Despite her recent victory, Julia Bluhm is not yet content. She is now planning a campaign similar to her Seventeen protest aimed at convincing Teen Vogue to forgo Photoshop airbrushing in all its images of young girls. As Bluhm wrote on her website: Another petition is being started by SPARK activists Emma and Carina, targeting Teen Vogue and I will sign it. If we can be heard by one magazine, we can do it with another. We are sparking a change! To get involved in this new campaign, simply visit this link and sign her new petition, which already has more than 11,000 signatures.