Teen Collects 50,000 Signatures to Protest the Use of Photoshop by Magazines

It’s common knowledge that models in magazines are Photoshopped to look the way that they do — often to the detriment of the young girls that aspire to have these computer generated figures — but for the most part protests have come in the form of ad campaigns like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. But in the past couple of weeks, 14-year-old Julia Bluhm decided to take a different approach.

Over the course of 10 days she singlehandedly collected 6,000 signatures for her online petition requesting that Seventeen Magazine feature one un-doctored spread per month. Since then, due in large part to a press release by a San Francisco PR firm, the petition has grown to over 50,000 signatures. Once it reached 25,000 she printed it out and hand delivered it to Seventeen’s Manhattan office.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the petition has had the desired effect. When asked, a spokeswoman for the magazine praised Julia’s passion, but made no definitive statements:

“We’re proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue — it’s exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers — so we invited her to our office to meet with editor in chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and that’s how we present them.”

There is a ray of hope though. Spurred on by the attention this petition has been getting, Vogue and its parent company Conde Naste have since promised to stop working with models they suspect to be underaged or have eating disorders. This promise will be difficult to regulate, but at the very least it’s a step in a healthier, less photoshopped direction.

(via PopPhoto)

  • branden rio

    While I understand what Bluhm is trying to do — this is just an extension of the argument about what exactly it means to “manipulate” a photo. Photos by their nature are manipulations of reality, and there are numerous tricks to making models appear more attractive beyond simply airbrushing on makeup, removing their skin imperfections, and cloning their flab away. For instance, choosing longer focal lengths, carefully arranging the lighting to flatter, and picking a camera/film which is favorable to skin tones. 

    The real solution is to spread awareness of the fact that photos by their nature are not and cannot be true representations of reality.

  • Gabor Szantai

    Oh just tell her, she won’t agree I’m pretty sure: no more push-up bras, makeup, dyed hair, plastic surgery… She couldn’t live without IRL ‘retouch':)

    The PS is dangerous but the mom who sends her daughter to beauty contest just wants the best to her little precious princess.

  • Wes Stewart

    People actually read that pap?  If you’re worried about your daughter being damaged by Seventeen magazine, give her something with some content.  With PS Seventeen is vapid trash.  Without PS Seventeen is vapid trash…

  • Johnny

    What these magazine people fail to realize is that if they went for the natural look they would sell more magazines simply because their readers will relate and connect to the un altered images more.

  • JaneÅndDoug Howell

    I just threw-up a little, so treacly, it’s a cover of a magazine the people on the cover are supposed to look aspirational! Who wants to sign my petition to stop low-self esteem people from starting petitions. 

  • Marja

    Vogue and Conde Nast say promise to quit working with underage models?  I don’t believe they’ll stick to that whatsoever.  Just recently, the designer who is head of the “don’t use underage models” group has been found to use underage models.  It was a complete joke. 

    I’m not saying young models shouldn’t work, but I do think it’s icky to have a 14-year-old exuding sex appeal in photos, or working until 2am or so like they do during fashion week.  There are plenty of adult models out there who look amazing, employ them for those jobs.

  • B E. L

    I did an essay on media effecting youth and self-esteem. I think it’s important to realize that media effects both males AND females – something that I rarely see being mentioned. It’s also important to realize protests like this and aggression towards photoshopping in media is a reaction to a symptom and not a problem. Photoshopping is an accentuation of the person being depicted. If people are so enraged at photoshop being used why are they a) still buying the magazines b) still letting their children use the magazines and c) still being affected by something they actively understand is MANIPULATED? Will make-up get banned? Some people wear that to accentuate their bodies. Plastic surgery? Gyms? Special clothing? I know it’s a bit hyperbolic, but it seems people are delegating the route of their insecurities to one “perpetrator”. It’s interesting when you think it’s mainly a cultural thing. Research has shown in models are increasing in size on covers of magazines based at the black demographic, while white women are decreasing. But it’s clear that photoshopping is going to be cast in a bad light only when model size is decreasing not increasing – you cant have it both ways.

    Summary of rant: there’s multiple causes to low self-esteem, not just cover models of magazines.

  • Jostein Roalkvam

    Blame Photoshop, same old same old. Yawn