Everyone seems to think that girls are notorious for being “bitchy” to each other, starting drama, and competing to be the most attractive or have a certain boyfriend. Girls are known for being the more passive aggressive and judgmental gender. Guys have just as much “drama” as girls do, and can be just as mean to each other. Yet, the phrases “dramatic,” “catty” and “bitchy” are used exclusively for girls. And now it’s not just the media that’s promoting this stereotype, it’s “science!” It’s been decided, based on whatever reasoning: Girls are mean by nature, and there’s nothing that can be done.
NAILED IT: following SPARK’s campaign, led by 14 year old activist Julia Bluhm, Seveenteen Magazine has committed to NEVER altering the faces or bodies of girls in their magazines and to showing true diversity in their pages. This is a HUGE DEAL for the US magazine industry and now two other SPARK activists, Carina and Emma, are asking Teen Vogue to follow suit and start building a better media landscape for girls.
We’re excited to see how these changes manifest in the pages of Seventeen, and we’re counting on the girls who read these mags—the girls who demanded change!—to really hold them accountable for these promises.
ETA: Since this has come up—we know that Seventeen is saying that they “never have and never will” digitally alter girls’ bodies, but fifteen minutes with any issue of Seventeen will prove that that’s just not true. Dang, sometimes you don’t even have to open the magazine to see it! If the images in the magazine and on the cover don’t change, it’ll now be much, much easier for readers to hold Seventeen accountable to their promises. That’s important, and also excellent news—because at the end of the day, magazines SHOULD be accountable to their readers, not to advertisers or the beauty industry.
"We’re not saying that models are ‘too skinny,’ we’re saying it’s kind of unrealistic and kind of annyoing that magazines only show skinny models."
"We’re not saying that it’s bad to have a certain body type. That’s what the media’s saying."
On Friday, 14-year-old SPARKteam girl activist Julia Bluhm presented Seventeen Magazine with her Change.org petition: Give Girls Images of Real Girls! The petition asks:
For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up. I know how hurtful these photoshopped images can be. I’m a teenage girl, and I don’t like what I see. None of us do. Will you join us by signing this petition and asking Seventeen to take a stand as well and commit to one unaltered photo spread a month?
The petition has garnered over 49,000 signatures (and counting!) and the media has been eager to cover the story. Read the SPARK blog post on the event here.
Here are some of the media pieces on the SPARKteam meeting with Seventeen Magazine:
New York Times: A Real Girl, 14, Takes a Stand Against the Flawless Faces in Magazines
5/3/12: “As of Thursday evening, the petition had been signed by 46,000 people. Julia and her mother, Mary Beiter, came to New York this week from their home in Waterville, Me., for a demonstration organized by Change.org and Spark outside the offices of Seventeen in Midtown.”
The Guardian: Thousands join girl in urging Seventeen magazine to publish unedited images
5/3/12: “Seventeen magazine said it had invited Bluhm to its offices after seeing her petition. It said in a statement: ‘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.’”
New York Daily News: Teens ask Seventeen Magazine: “Where are the girls like me?”
5/2/12: “Outside the headquarters of the teen magazine known for its skinny models, a group of girls dressed in plain old jeans and jackets posed in front of a white backdrop Wednesday holding up signs that read ‘Where are the Girls Like Me?’”
ABC Nightline: Are Airbrushed Ads Dangerous?
CBS New York: 14-Year-Old Takes On Altered Photographs In Seventeen Magazine
5/2/12: “While kids are being bombarded by what they see in ad campaigns and magazines, what they hear at home hits just as hard. Child psychologist Dr. Jennifer Harstein said parents obsessing about their own diet and how they look is often passed down.”
Today SPARK went to Seventeen Magazine headquarters to deliver over 24,000 signatures asking Seventeen to start running at least one un-retouched photo spread per issue. (Since this morning, the petition has gotten up to 32,500 and rapidly growing!) Excuse me while I clutch this photo to my chest and sob with joy at how amazing our group of young activists is. Julia, the girl who started the petition (second from the right in that killer ballet stance) is only 14! We’re so proud of her and what she’s started—including what looks like is going to be a fantastic ongoing conversation with Seventeen about how to support and represent girls!