Back in April, we told you about 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, who started a petition on Change.org urging teen glossy Seventeen to post one unaltered “real” photo spread per month, with the hopes it would help girls feel better about their bodies. At the time, the petition had collected a respectable 7,000 signatures; now it's close to 85,000 and Bluhm, along with an organization called SPARK, staged a demonstration outside Seventeen's New York offices, launched a Twitter campaign, and met with Seventeen EIC Anne Shoket, who, as we've learned from Ad Week, has finally responded to Bluhm's request.
The August issue of Seventeen features a page dedicated to the new "Body Peace Treaty." Here are the most relevant "vows:"
• Never change girls' body or face shapes (Never have, never will) • Celebrate every kind of beauty in our pages. Without a range of body types, skin tones, heights and hair textures, the magazine--and the world--would be boring! • Always feature real girls and models who are healthy. Regardless of clothing size, being healthy is about honoring your natural shape. • Be totally up-front about what goes into our photo shoots. You can go behind the scenes on our Tumblr (seventeen.tumblr.com) and see the whole shebang! • Help you make the best choices for your body--food that fuels you, exercise that energizes you--so you can feel your absolute best each day. • Give you the confidence to walk into any room and own it. Say bye-bye to those nagging insecurities that you're not good enough or pretty enough--they're holding you back from being awesome in the world!
In a way, it's a slightly more flowery version of Vogue's recent Health Initiative guidelines and while it is something, Shoket has not agreed to Bluhm's original request that Seventeen publish unaltered photo spreads and it's not entirely clear if and how their photo retouching practices will change. Overall, the treaty seems to simply verbalize the standards that Shoket felt she and the magazine had already been upholding. She writes in August's editor's letter, “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."
Like Vogue's health initiative, it's a little vague, but it sends the right message and Bluhm told the New York Times Tuesday that she was pleased with Shoket's response. But she and SPARK aren't done yet. Next, they're going after Teen Vogue with a new Change.org petition asking them to "pledge not to alter any model’s body or face and to celebrate beauty in all its forms." (What say you, Amy Astley?)
While we're not convinced this is signaling an end to the use of photoshop in fashion spreads, we wouldn't be surprised if this, along with Vogue's health initiative, did encourage more glossies to be open about retouching and publicize any standards or guidelines they do have in place to keep those unrealistic beauty standards at bay.