They said/We said: Teenage activists are pointing a finger at teen-girl targeted magazines to change their image editing policies
Considering the fact that toe surgery has apparently become a “thing” (cosmetic surgery to slim down obese toes, for those of you not in the know), we’re apt to believe the girls behind SPARK Movement when they say that the pressure has never been stronger when it comes to conforming to beauty ideals.
These teenage activists are pointing a finger at teen-girl targeted magazines like Seventeen and Teen Vogue, saying their continued airbrushing and underrepresentation of “real” models is contributing to unattainable, unrealistic beauty ideals. They called on the magazines to completely cut out Photoshop (even down to airbrushing out pimples or brightening up a smile) and to focus on putting real girls in their publications.
“[These magazines] bombard young women with images that have been distorted and digitally altered . . . these photoshopped images are extremely dangerous to girls like us who read them, because they keep telling us: you are not skinny enough, pretty enough or perfect enough. Well, neither are the girls in the pictures!” the SPARK girls write on their home site.
Last week, SPARK member Julia Bluhm managed to pull together over 85,000 signatures for a petition to Seventeen, and the magazine actually responded. They published a “Body Peace Treaty” in their print edition, stating that they “never have, never will” alter the shape of models’ faces or bodies (which isn’t promising any change, really), and that they will make efforts to be more transparent with what goes into their editing process.
Following their co-SPARK member’s success, Carina Cruz and Emma Stydahar tried their hand at Teen Vogue yesterday, staging a guerilla red carpet runway show in front of the Conde Nast buildings and scoring an interview with Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley. Despite having racked up about 35,000 signatures for their Teen Vogue–specific petition, the girls told New York Daily News they were disappointed with their rushed conversation with Astley.
Though Cruz and Stydahar evidently did not get the response they were looking for, Teen Vogue’s publicist Erin Kaplan issued a statement saying the magazine is already careful to not retouch models’ body shapes in their pages.
While we doubt magazines can honestly promise a full rehaul of their image editing processes, considering how entrenched they are in years-long practices, we do commend the girls for trying to encourage their peers to seek real beauty. What do you think: should glossies continue to offer aspirational if unrealistic images of beauty, or should they start featuring girls that teens can more easily relate to?
Charlotte Cowles: “[…] While Teen Vogue could have been a little more tactful about the fact that they’re not going to change anything, at least they didn’t beat around the bush with showy, vague pacts.” [The Cut]
Laurie Penny, author: “Teenage girls make Teen Vogue squirm over airbrushing. Generation Z are already bloody amazing.” [Twitter]
Rani Sheen, copy and health editor: “The Vogue family likes to do things on their own terms, and they have taken steps in this direction in the recent past with their Health Initiative. So maybe they will come up with something similar to address Photoshopping in Teen Vogue. Retouching is heavily entrenched in magazine production, but the growing awareness around the problem of using it to change body shapes rather than just clean up distracting details in photographs could prove to be a force of positive change.”
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