Did you know that only a mere 50 years ago, skinniness was next to ugliness? It's amazing that a cultural shift of such dramatic proportions could occur over the course of just 5 decades, but it's true. Just as today's media blasts our nation with promises of diet pills and workout routines that are sure to evaporate those last 5, 10, and 15 lbs; in the days of yesteryear it seems our nation was obsessed with the women who had curves in all the right places. Don't believe me? See for yourself.
Today the tides may be changing once again. Too skinny is on its way out. And it is thanks, in part, to a 14 year old girl from Maine.
Two weeks ago Julia Bluhm, a budding ballerina, started a petition through Change.org. Her request was simple: all she asked is that Seventeen magazine starts including at least one un-photoshopped image of "real girls" in each monthly publication. Though Seventeen was reportedly very impressed by Julia's passion and commitment to ensuring that a magazine made for real girls publishes pictures of un-edited models, they denied her petition and sent the girl packing.
"We’re proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue — it’s exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers — so we invited her to our office to meet with editor in chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and that’s how we present them. We feature real girls in our pages and there is no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity."
In other words:
"No way. If we featured one unedited photo a month in our publication, it would become increasingly obvious that every other picture in our magazine is enhanced, and we would lose all credibility with our customers. Girls would realize that the photos of the models they are trying to emulate are non-human photoshopped versions of their less-than-perfect selves, and readers may be much less likely to buy the makeup and clothing and other accessories advertised in the pages of the magazine that feed our salaries."
I find this response from a well established publication that prides itself on "highlighting diversity" appalling. In an age where our nation is plagued by a complete dichotomy of size - the very obese stacking up against those suffering from damaging eating disorders, you would think Seventeen would assume some responsibility and listen to its readers when it comes to publishing images of healthy girls, just as they are. And while Seventeen has seemingly turned its back to the hand that feeds it (their subscribers), other media publications are starting to listen. In Vogue's June 2012 issue which hit stands last week, the magazine pledges to promote healthful living across all 19 of their publications globally through a pact known as The Health Initiative. While this promise does not (yet) include the use of un-photoshopped images in the glossy pages of their magazine, it does reinforce the notion that - finally - the fashion industry is paying attention.
So, are the days of printing convoluted, warped images of too-thin girls with flawless skin a thing of the past? I think not. But what we have here sure smells like the beginning of a revolution - one that, with our support, has the potential to change the way girls and women perceive themselves in comparison to the impossible standards upheld by the media. And I, for one, have eagerly joined the fight.
To sign Julia's petition, visit Change.org now.