Posted by: toritrail | February 18, 2014

Photoshop Fight – Is this the end of edited magazine photos?


After watching Miss Representation today in class, my mind was racing about how unruly today’s society is about women and body image. Let’s be honest – women are merely just sex objects in every aspect of the media. However, I finally found an article that gave me hope for future generations.

Julia Bluhm is an 8th grade student who was tired of seeing “perfect” women in every single magazine, so she took matters into her own hands. She created a petition to Seventeen Magazine asking them to no longer photoshop models – whether it be on the cover of the magazine or throughout each issue – and she won! Julia truly is the perfect example that if we want to make a difference in today’s society – we must do it ourselves and not wait around for someone else to do it!

Julia stated: “I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me. For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up.”

Her petition gained more than 84,000 signatures, and Seventeen magazine listened. They agreed to no longer re-touch models, and to even include more in their issues about the photoshoot process of their models to prove that they are 100% committed to their word. Readers are invited to look online at the photoshoots for the magazines. The magazine also released a “Body Vow Treaty,” which can be viewed in the links above.

Since Seventeen magazine is geared towards younger teenage girls, they are working to show these girls what true beauty is. Julia was prompted to begin the petition after over-hearing peers in her ballet class complaining about their weight and appearances. Honestly, this story truly made my heart smile! While it is just one magazine, this may be just what our society needs to see – that expecting to look like these photoshopped models is completely unrealistic.

The only downside with this petition is that the entire magazine will not be photoshop-free – since the magazine is filled with ads from outside companies. These companies have not agreed to partake in the “no-photoshop” rule. Regardless, this is a huge victory for Julia and for young women everywhere.

So what do you all think – will these be a stepping stone for other magazines, brands, and organizations to step up against technological enhancement? Or is this just one girl’s fight that proved successful and we may not see more of it in the future? I’m open to ideas – this specific one just made me so happy and gave me a small glimpse of hope for the future.


  1. When I first read this over I thought, ‘8th grade is so young, how could someone in 8th grade do something like this?’ But after thinking about it for a while, I think the greatest thing about this is the fact that she is so young. I think a lot of time today young girls are discouraged by magazines and the media and the idea of what they “should” look or act like, this causes them to turn to other means of trying to fit that ideal: eating disorders, suicide, self-injury. The fact that a girl at such a young age felt that she had the motivation and courage to stand up and do something so amazing is encouraging to girls and women of all ages. She took what might be considered a bad situation and let it empower her for the better; she, even at 14, was able to be the leader in the change that she wanted to see.

  2. After watching Miss Representation, I was getting discouraged. Media has brainwashed society to benefit absolutely no one. The people that read these magazines are discouraged and psychologically wounded by seeing their role models so distorted. As I read this post, I really saw the importance of raising our future generations to be aware of these problems. This girl is a part of the next generation and more people like her need to take control of what they want to see in their future. This definitely gave me hope for change.
    I do not think that this magazine is going to start a trend for other magazines. I would love for that to be the case, but unfortunately that is not the market we live in currently. I also think that the fact that outside content still uses Photoshop on their images diminishes the effects of Bluhm’s vision. Seventeen may show more natural pictures of women, but the magazine also still contains those unhealthy images. As young girls flip through the magazine, there is a chance that they still view the Photoshop images as the ‘ideal’ body. Although this is a great change, I do not believe this alone will drive forward the issue of ‘image’ distortion and the effects it has on women.
    BUT like I said, from reading this post I have hope for change. I have hope for change because of girls like Bluhm. If girls and women of the new generation have the same dedication that Bluhm had for this issue, change does not seem so far off. In class we talked about how in order for women to try for leadership roles they have to have women role models in those leadership roles. Bluhm can now be that role model for girls who have wanted to speak out.

  3. I actually remember reading about this in Seventeen awhile back. Since this article and petition came out, I know that at least 1 other magazine, Glamour, has tried to take a stand to do the same thing with limiting the use of Photoshop. I definitely think that women are highlighted as sex objects in many aspects of the media and films like Miss Representation highlight that perfectly. There have been many times where I have flipped through pictures in magazines or seen images on TV and wondered to myself how any human being could actually look THAT good. We see all of these images of gorgeous women in the media and think that that is what the idea of beauty should look like, but in reality, no one looks that perfect. Not only that, but the way we glamorize these women tends to highlight them in a more negative way than a positive one in the long run because it is almost as if they are being showcased or put on display. I’ve even seen interviews with celebrities where they have admitted that some of the photos they have seen themselves in are not really an accurate portrayal of their looks. But, the sad thing is that there are women that will stand up and say that they were photoshopped, yet they can’t really do anything about it because it is in the hands of the designers. This is why I think that Julia Bluhm took a brave step by actually trying to do something about the issue at hand. She made the issue more well-known to the public and I think that is what we need: education on these matters and knowing that these things are actually happening. Especially the fact that she is so young speaks to the fact that girls of such young ages are being influenced. As far as this being a chance for other magazines to step forward too, I’m not so sure. It has already been a few years since this has happened and I only know of 1 other magazine that has taken a similar stance. I think a lot of magazines may just not want their name highlighted in the press because that could be bad for business. However, I think that change usually has to start small before it can gain momentum. So, hopefully, this could be a push in the right direction.

  4. It is impressive that she is so young and choosing to take a stand for what she believes in. It makes me wonder what is wrong with the rest of women, as a generalization? What stops us from making these kinds of petitions and fighting to be represented properly by the media? Even internationally it is a young girl who is fighting for her rights as a women to not be taken away. Malala Yousafzai is only a few years older than Julia. They are both fighting for things a lot of us have stopped believing in finding a change for.

    I do not, however, think that the media will change for the better. It is a lovely step, but I think that photo shopping is just too ingrained in our society to change now. People know that the magazines do not portray an accurate view of the models, but we still buy them. It is something we have learned to accept about our society. No matter that it is a sad how normal we find it.

  5. This is awesome! What an incredible girl to stand up for something she believes in like that. It’s awful that girls feel like they don’t fit in or don’t look how they should just because a magazine photoshops girls to look that way. I know I have felt those pressures in my life and I think it’s incredible an 8th grader had the courage to stand up for herself and her classmates and do that.

    And I’m optimistic about the future of the media, I don’t think it will be a quick fix by any means, but many companies are noticing that women are becoming more powerful and want to see real women, not “fake” women. For example, the Dove commercials. That being said, the media is a tool to make money, and tiny, perfect looking women make more money. As bad as it is, I normally am caught off guard if a women doesn’t look “perfect” in magazines or TV. It’s weird; it’s sad that it happens like that, but it is weird. So I hope that overtime the world will begin to see women for how they truly are, not just as sex toys. However, I think it’s a far way off.

  6. Actually, I have heard about this and I think it’s great too! I looked at the magazine and it’s true. Sometimes they print articles about their photo shoot process and include before and after pictures. They only fix things like stray hairs, bra straps showing, shirts coming untucked, etc. It really inspired me. I couldn’t believe that a big magazine like that would actually listen. It is an inspiration to the girls who read it. It is a positive thing for them to see real girls. Sometimes they even have articles about clothes for plus size girls.They also show how to find a particular piece of clothing for different body types, like what jeans to wear if you have big hips. They acknowledge that women come in all shapes and sizes. There are many differences, none of which are wrong or ugly. In many other magazines, all the women are the same shape and body type.

    I truly admire that girl for starting a petition. That is something that many people would think to do and then never actually do it. I believe this is something that can continue to change with the right push from people like Julia. We also have a voice as consumers. If everyone recognizes this and refuses to buy products that go against what they believe in, then it can make a difference. Personally, I won’t buy magazines with images of fake women. (Because of this, I hardly buy any magazines at all.)

  7. After watching the Miss Representation documentary in class, I, too, felt pretty down about our society. Reading about this story was the positive encouragement that I think we all needed to learn about, in order to lift our spirits up a little more! I think that it is too soon to tell if other magazines will follow in the footsteps of Seventeen magazine and begin to use photoshop-free pictures because this change only took into effect under 2 years ago. I do, however, think that this movement was a step into the right direction! I would like to be hopeful that more magazines in the future will catch on and do the same thing, but I think that we must be patient in order to see the change. I also think that it sets a really positive and encouraging message for young girls due to the fact that Julia Bluhm was only 14-years old when she voiced her opinion and made such a huge difference! Furthermore, I think that it makes the Seventeen magazine staff more aware of how young of an audience that they have, and that they should be more cautious about what the decide to include in their magazines from now on!

  8. After watching Miss Representation in class the past few days I have been inspired and also more aware of the affect media has on the image of women. It blows my mind just how much of a negative impact TV shows, movies, magazines and more have on women. It is so refreshing to see a young girl like Julia step up and speak about this pressing issue. Because the media is so accessible, young girls are dealing more and more with the pressures of being the “perfect” woman. I know girls go through a lot trying to portray this perfect image of themselves. I do think that this is a great example of how one person can make a difference but I wonder if it will be enough? This is the first time I have heard about this story. Why was this story not publicized as much as I feel it should be? This story could inspire other young girls and just women in general to do the same. I wonder if Julia was a girl in her early 20’s would they have listened to her? Or were changes made only because Julia is a young girl? In my values leadership course we talk about bogus empowerment, where the leader says they will make change, making the followers believe that they are important but in actuality continue to make changes the way the leader sees fit. For this situation could Seventeen only be listening to Julia to keep a good reputation and eventually they will revert back to their old ways? Or how can we really know if the pictures on the cover are not photo shopped? Are they still photo shopping them but in a more subtle way? If more women begin speaking out on things like this or another aspect of the magazine will they listen? Or just say they will make changes and then never get around to it? I hate to sound like the devils advocate but this is just a thought. Interesting article and topic though!

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