Seventeen magazine’s resounding “no” that was issued in response to 14-year-old Julia Bluhm‘s petition asking for one unphotoshopped spread a month was certainly couched in niceties. Despite Julia’s petition officially breaking 50,000 signatures, the publication still doesn’t seem to be any closer to meeting her request — and now the request of many parents. But aside from the magazine flat out refusing the young feminist, releasing a derogatory statement that claims they celebrate the bodies of girls, we seemed to have encountered an even bigger problem. The editor-in-chief refuses to admit that the photos in Seventeen have been airbrushed.
Ann Shoket recently told The New York Times, in response to Julia’s petition:
So, does the magazine airbrush pictures of the girls in its pages?
“I don’t want to get into the specifics of what we do and don’t do,” Ms. Shoket said.
Having spent the better part of yesterday afternoon analyzing the May 2012 issue, I find Shoket’s comments particularly disparaging. At the center of the concern for these images is that kids are unable to discern that they are not authentic. Our children live in such extreme media-centric times, so much so that schools are holding classes to educate them on the distortion and manipulation of these images. Other parents want warning labels to properly convey to kids that these images are not real — a crucial tidbit that often does not get relayed to those most impacted: kids.
Regardless of modifying Seventeen to accommodate Julia’s unphotoshopped spread, Shoket missed a real opportunity to do what parents and some young girls are begging many publications to do: acknowledge that these images aren’t true to life. Her refusal to “get into the specifics” does a further disservice to her many young readers by once again pretending that these photographs are genuine.