Why I Agree That Teen Magazines Have a Responsibility to Feature REAL Girls

Posted 05/02/12 at 11:00AM by Audrey Fine

As a tween/teen back in the '80s, I was a semi-regular model for "Seventeen" magazine. I never made the cover or anything highfaluting like that, but they used me a lot for beauty shoots, exercise demos, fashion spreads, and the like. This, of course, was back when actresses acted and models modeled -- none of that crossover craziness had begun as of yet.

This was also way before PhotoShop existed. (It was probably even before the dude at Adobe who invented PhotoShop existed.) But, for a teen magazine, that was probably a good thing. Girls from all around the country could look at us, the "models," and see that we were pretty much like the rest of them -- just with better lighting, and pro hair and makeup folks gussying us up behind the scenes.

My how times have changed. These days, if you flip through a copy of "Seventeen" or "Teen Vogue" or any other glossy kids book, you'll be amazed at the photos staring back at you. The models on these pages are perfect with a capital PERFECT. Teeth, skin, boobs, hair -- every last detail of their physicality has been tweaked to the point of impossibility and, guess what? It's not sitting well with some readers. Especially not with 14-year-old Julia Bluhm from Maine who is so annoyed with all the airbrushing and altering in "Seventeen" magazine that she's launched a nationwide petition to put a stop to it.

Bluhm's petition, titled, "Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images Of Real Girls!" is gaining loads of attention, as the eighth grader seeks to get the mag to "commit to printing one unaltered -- real -- photo spread per month."

The 14-year-old, who is also a blogger for the activist site Sparksummit.com, writes in the petition that "those pretty women that we see in magazines are fake," adding, "They're often Photoshopped, airbrushed, edited to look thinner and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life." And, she goes on to point out that, "Girls want to be accepted, appreciated, and liked. And when they don't fit the criteria, some girls like to fix themselves. This can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self-esteem."

Do you agree with Julia Bluhm? Should magazines showcase REAL girls or is using altered models and impossibly beautiful starlets all part of the aspirational intent of a magazine?
And the survey says...
1-6 of 11 Comments

  • Posted by KelseaT on 04/08/14 at 02:22pm

    Use real girls! I've been reading Seventeen magazine for years and every issue seems to get worse when it comes to models. I still love the fashion ideas but I have a hard time believing to see "beauty tricks" actually work when the models them selves are not real.

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  • Posted by GigiSD on 05/08/13 at 10:47pm

    Applause for Julia Bluhm! Photos should be prohibited from being "Photoshopped" It should be common knowledge that women all have flaws--and it's often their flaws that make them most endearing.

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  • Posted by EricaF123 on 12/29/12 at 01:20pm

    Nice

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  • Posted by LipglossandSpandex on 06/18/12 at 09:57pm

    Julia Bluhm is awesome for doing that. Not only should teen magazines have real girls, so should grown-up magazines. Not necessarily your average person on the street, but the overly photoshopped, too thin model is not a good role model. Nor is it realistic.

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  • Posted by alictasia on 06/06/12 at 04:40pm

    I agree with Julia!!! and thank you for covering this most important subject affecting not just young women,but our whole society. Natural women are the most beautiful of all.

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  • Posted by Nicole2814 on 05/13/12 at 06:36pm

    goood

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