As a tween, there was almost nothing I loved more than magazines. I read all the usual early '90s suspects ... Sassy (then JANE), YM, and of course, Seventeen. I caught hell from classmates for bringing Seventeen onto the playground as a fifth grader. Even if I secretly thought I was leagues beyond my peers, I was also sadly ahead when it comes to something most young women grapple with at some point: Being totally inundated with false images of beauty that can strip away at your body image and self-esteem.
Times have changed since then, but the magazines haven't. And fierce teens of 2012 are fighting back. A blogger for SPARK, a girl-fueled activist movement protesting the sexualization of girls, Julia Bluhm, has started a Change.org petition that asks Seventeen's Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket to publish one spread each month of unaltered pictures. How hard could that be?
Julia writes, "I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that's supposed to be for me." And her colleagues over at SPARK agree. Fellow SPARK blogger Izzy Labbe agrees. Labbe writes that it isn't too much to ask for "a magazine that is supposed to be a leader in the teen world of beauty, inspiration and fashion." They're just asking for a focus on real girls who already ARE beautiful -- genuinely.
Bluhm spoke with us exclusively about why she started her petition:
I want girls to be able to look at PhotoShopped pictures and be able to say, "You're fake, and I'm not!" and celebrate their own true beauty, instead of being sad because they don't fit the narrow mold of beauty that the media creates.
So awesome! She's totally got her head on straight, and to know that she's invested in opening fellow teens' eyes and bolstering their self-image is truly inspiring. Thankfully, there's proof she's already making quite the impression and isn't alone in her belief system. Check out some of these other bold beliefs from a couple of her SPARK teammates ...
Maya Brown, 17:
[Girls] see the women in ads as beautiful, and they want to look like them. They learn that in order to be beautiful and attractive, they must look a certain way. Not only is it damaging to have these images out there, but the girls who see them can never actually achieve this high standard of beauty.
Carina Cruz, 16:
'These women aren't real' is what I have always been told as a struggling overweight preteen wishing to be like the girl on the front cover. ... This is exactly what I have been telling myself for the past few years and what I will continue to tell my peers, who are struggling with the same issues.
Major props to these bold young women! I know they are already well on their way to being a positive influence on their peers. But with our help, they could also re-model (literally, ha) the future of Seventeen magazine -- which would be a major victory for our daughters.
How awesome are these girls? Will you sign the petition?
Image via Seventeen.com