Do you think that magazines promoting an unattainable body image and perception of beauty leads to girls and young women having lower self-esteem? If so, why do you think that magazines have such a powerful influence over one’s body image?
Altered images in magazines have been happening for years and there is a longstanding debate as to whether they are dangerous to girls who view themselves as unworthy because they are not as thin or flawless as the images they see in magazines. Julia Bluhm, a 14 year old from Maine has put a figurative stake in the ground. She had enough of these unattainable images and decided to do something about it. Julia launched a petition at Change.org to encourage teen targeted magazines to stop altering images of their models.
In May they asked the editor of Seventeen magazine to print an unaltered photo in an upcoming issue. Seventeen responded by promising not to change the faces or body size of their models. While the acknowledgement is a worthy accomplishment for Julia and her supporters, it is important to note that Seventeen’s editors said models, not celebrities. This means that they can still choose teeny-tiny models with blemish-free skin to grace the pages of their magazine.
Now Julia is taking her protest to Teen Vogue and asking them to follow Seventeen magazine’s example and pledge not to alter their models’ body or face sizes. She and her supporters want magazines such as these to show “real” girls as the standard of beauty.
Perhaps I should also throw in a disclaimer here that I worked in magazine publishing for many years, ten of which were spent at the parent company of Teen Vogue. Magazines do strive for an ideal of beauty, which includes not just fashion publications but also home decorating, epicurean and travel magazines as well. Magazines show beautiful images because that is precisely whey people buy them. Though I did not work in the editorial side of the business, I do know that editors often choose models based on how the clothing will fit, knowing what stylistic images they want on their pages. So perhaps, taking this one step further, this conversation should also be opened up to clothing designers who manufacture items for an ideal body as well.
When I was a teenage girl (too many years ago), even at my thinnest I did not feel thin enough though I compared myself more to my friends than to what I saw in the pages of magazines. Today, as a mom of boys I do not witness girls going through the glossies nor see their reactions as they glance at the pages. So while I adore magazines and have personally not been affected by images in them, I absolutely love what Julia Bluhm is trying to accomplish and support any move that will help girls and young women to have stronger self-esteem and a positive body image.
Now I ask for your thoughts on this topic. Do you think that it would make a difference to your child’s self-esteem if magazines did not alter these body images at all?
Regardless of how this plays out, I applaud Julia Bluhm for being bold enough to take a stand. If you would like to see or sign the petition, go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/teen-vogue-give-us-images-of-real-girls#.