Facing pressure from teen girls demanding truthful images of young women, Seventeen magazine has vowed to "celebrate every kind of beauty" and feature only photographs of real girls and models who are healthy.
Editor-in-chief Ann Shoket made the announcement in her editor's letter in the August issue, and her note marks a major triumph for the thousands of teen girls who took part in a petition for the magazine to show images of real girls. Fourteen-year-old Julia Bluhm from Maine started the protest on Change.org with the petition, "Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images Of Real Girls!", which requested that the publication print one unaltered photo spread per month. In May, Bluhm and a group of other teen girls delivered the petition and its 84,000 signatures to the Seventeen Magazine headquarters in New York City. The girls protested outside the offices with signs with slogans such as "teen girls against Photoshop."
“I hoped that Seventeen would do this, but I guess I didn’t think it would actually happen,” Bluhm told ABC News. “It’s been really exciting for me.”
The magazine's announcement promised to “never change girls’ body or face shapes” when retouching images. For Bluhm, the measure represents an important step towards more positive media role models and healthier body image for teen girls.
"I've always just known how Photoshop can have a big effect on girls and their body image and how they feel about themselves," Bluhm told the Huffington Post. "You need to see something realistic -- you need to see a reflection of what truly represents a teenage girl nowadays."
The entire Seventeen editorial staff signed the pledge outlined in the editor's letter, according to Shoket, who also noted that the magazine's editors would listen more carefully to the concerns of their readers. The editor's letter does not specifically mention Bluhm or her petition.
Bluhm told ABC News that the issue was a matter of making the magazine conscientious of the effect it has on girls. “If we make ourselves heard about how important Photoshop is and how much of an effect it has on girls, they’ll become more aware. And Seventeen did that.”
What's next on Bluhm's agenda? A petition to get Teen Vogue to stop using digitally doctored images on their glossy pages. Bluhm has already collected over 10,000 signatures.