In the magazine publishing world, it’s been said “airbrushing images is an industry standard.” But it doesn’t have to be. Seventeen Magazine has agreed not to digitally alter images of young female models and celebs. And its all thanks to the #KeepItReal Challenge and one passionate teen activist.
SPARK Summit, LoveSocial, I Am That Girl, Endangered Bodies, and Miss Representation started the #KeepItReal Challenge, a “3-day challenge” utilizing tweeting magazine editors, blogging personal experiences, and posting photos via Instagram to spur magazines to publish “one unphotoshopped image of a model per issue,” challenging theideal of “perfect” beauty. #KeepItReal was inspired by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, a SPARK activist tired of toxic body images. She petitioned Seventeen Magazine to print “one unaltered photo spread a month.” The overwhelming support of her petition led to a meeting between the magazine, Bluhm and Spark Summit. Blum’s petition and the #KeepItReal Challenge received an overwhelming response. The Twitter hashtag “reached over 1.5 million people, including the desks of USWeekly, Glamour and Lucky Magazine – who all expressed interest in talking further about their use of photoshop. Additionally, Marie Claire's Editor-In-Chief Joanna Coles reached out personally to MissRepresentation.org to discuss the issue.” In their latest issue, Editor-in-Chief Ann Shokets shared Seventeen Magazine’s public commitment to show how girls really look and the diversity of beauty:
“Like all magazines, we retouch images – removing wrinkles in fabric, stray hairs, a few zits, random bra straps – but we never alter the way the girls on our pages really look. It’s crucial that we represent girls of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones for their beauty. Our Body Peace Project is one of the cornerstones of our mission: We want every girl to stop obsessing about what her body looks like and start appreciating it for what it can do! "While we work hard behind the scenes to make sure we’re being authentic, your notes made me realize that it was time for us to be more public about our commitment. So we created a Body Peace Treaty for the magazine staff – a list of vows on how we run things here so we always make you feel amazing!"About the victory, of which she played a crucial role in catalyzing change, Bluhm said on Change.org:
“Seventeen listened!...This is a huge victory, and I'm so unbelievably happy…If we can be heard by one magazine, we can do it with another. We are sparking a change!"People think that they’re just one person. That they can’t make a difference. But they can and do. Change happens one person at a time. For those who scoff at social media as activism, Bluhm’s petition and the #KeepItReal Challenge prove their efficacy in creating change. Bluhm motivated SPARK activists Carina Cruz and Emma Stydahar to petition Teen Vogue to follow Seventeen Magazine’s lead. This is a tremendous achievement. But the battle has just begun. Here are some of the horrifying statistics via the #KeepItReal Challenge on magazines’ impact on girls:
- 42% of 1st to 3rd-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81% of 10 year-olds are afraid of getting fat.
- The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed in America increased by 457% from 1997 to 2007.
- 20 years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today that number is 23% less.
- 53% of 13 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number increases to 78% by age 17.
- 80% of 10 year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.
- 3 out of 4 teenage girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after spending 3 minutes leafing through a fashion magazine.