‘Seventeen’ Magazine Makes A Monumental Anti-Photoshopping Decision


onestly? I kind of can’t believe what I’m reading right now! A 14-yearold girl just changed the world (that part I can believe). She obtained 25,000 signatures on a petition to get Seventeen Magazine to change their photoshopping policies. Seventeen Magazine has just embraced young Julia Bluhm’s crazy, radical idea of showing women and girls as they are and has even taken her idea a step further. Read more about their unbelievable new commitment to “keeping it real” with the feminine form inside.


Last week I shared an exciting story that I found via Zooey Deschanel and friends at HelloGiggles (remember Who Needs Feminism?), and this week they’ve got another one for us:




Who could take on an epic, established monolith like Seventeen Magazine and expect it to bow to the demands of teenage girls?

The answer to that of course is 14-year-old Waterville, Maine resident and SPARKteam member Julia Bluhm who delivered 25,000 signatures to the offices of Seventeen in May (she currently has 84,000!) imploring the magazine to produce just one un-Photoshopped spread a month.

And it looks like Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket is committing to make that unlikely request a reality.

Though Shoket met with Bluhm in May and gave her a glorified “thanks, but no thanks,” the latest issue of Seventeen features a letter from Shoket announcing the magazine’s “Body Peace Treaty,” in which she and the staff vow to, among other things, “never change girls’ body or face shapes,” “be totally up-front about what goes into our photo shoots,” and “always feature real girls and models who are healthy.”

Shoket’s pledge comes on the heels of a 3-day “Keep it Real” challenge launched by SPARK, the amazing San Francisco-based Miss Representation and several other organizations. The campaign spread across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds, putting the pressure on women’s magazines to quit digitally altering images.

Only time will tell if Shoket and Seventeen actually deliver on their promise to keep it real, but in the mean time, SPARK and its supporters refuse to put the issue to rest. Their next mission is to convince the editors at Teen Vogue to follow suit.

Read more here.


After that new Kanye track I thought I’d reached the pinnacle of happiness today but… dare I say… this makes me happier? Now it should go without saying that this story is only the beginning of a conversation that needs to continue. And the truth is, those conversations begin first in the home (or in home-like surroundings), because a magazine can only be responsible for teaching young girls so much. What I mean is, if young women are being positively educated and encouraged, no amount of photoshopping should be able to convince them that they need to look a certain way. I don’t believe in putting all of the responsibility of young people and their behavior, and their self-esteem on media and businesses. It takes a village!

Anyway, I am such a fan of this little girl (Julia is the one in the middle of the pic up top) who did not do what so many of us– myself included– do: complain about the images we find troubling and then go back to whatever we were doing before we were troubled. She actually did something and I am a huuuge fan of people who DO things! Because it always seems to have an effect! Who would have thought?! LOL.

I know we’ve a long ways to go in terms of women and media but we’ve a long way to go with A LOT of things and I know this is a great step. Please join me in applauding young Julia, who may or may not have just shown this 27-year old the meaning of womanhood. Thanks Jules!

One small step for Seventeen Magazine, one large step for man and womankind.

Read Julia’s full petition here.

Oh, and for clarification– Seventeen will clearly still photoshop their images, but as you can see in the example they gave, it will be used mainly to adjust or edit the model’s surroundings, not her body. Amen.


  • Isabelle

    As a mother of an 8 year old, terrified at the prospect of her being subject one day to whatever body image is “in”, I can only applaud this.

    It’s a hard work you know, trying to make understand a little kid that what she sees is not real, is not the norm and that she’s pefect as she is…Again, bravo. I hope that the magazine will really change its policy and that others will follow.

  • PixiesBassline

    Yay! This is great news! Makes me happy! :)
    This is a magazine I could buy for my daughter and feel good about.

  • Katie

    This is good news. I don’t mind some photoshopping but they do some crazy stuff sometimes. Like getting rid of a zit is fine to me. But drastically changing people’s faces & bodies totally needs to stop.

  • Erin

    Um, hello? I can’t help but think that we’re somehow being cheated here and expected to play along. There is clearly more going on in that Photoshopped picture than what the notations imply. For one, her face is thinner and lighter than in the original picture. And they get congratulated for lying to us. Unbelievable.

    • Liebchen

      Before reading any of the comments I studied the picture to see if any changes were made that were not noted and I couldnt find any. Upon reading your comment I went and looked again and still couldnt see any.
      The changed picture is just smaller and is tilted differently which can give the impression of a slimmer face and I dont see much, if any, difference in skin tone.

      With that being said though, I can see the justifications in getting rid of the bra strap and even changing background colors but I dont see any reason to erase the stray strains of hair or the tiny fold in the clothes. They seem like pointless modification. I doubt anyone is going to look at the picture and say “Well this picture would just be amazing if that strand of hair and that unsightly crease was gone!”

  • Yay Julia! Thanks for covering this Shannon – Now if only other companies would follow suit (I’d like to think that one day soon that it will be illegal for anti aging beauty products to use models who have had face *work* done).

  • Alicia

    This is wonderful news. Seventeen has always been more forward than other teen magazines in this aspect. I was an avid reader for years and if you go back and compare what it was 13 years ago to now it’s amazing.

    They stopped using full body shots for the cover so to move away from negative body images and to highlight the cover model’s emotions rather than body. They were also one of the first teen magazines to put models over size 2 in the articles and images (because the readers asked for it).

    They added a permanent health section back in 2005 which was damn near impossible to find in teen magazines back then. The October 2005 issue got pulled from a lot of store shelves because of the “Vagina 101″ health section that actually showed girls what should be going on down there. I remember reading it and thinking “More magazines should be doing what these guys are.”

    Sure it seems like a small step, but it’s forward and that’s the important part.

  • cutitout

    It will solve nothing. At the end of the day, while some images in the media don’t help girls with these issues, the real culprit is the cult of VALIDATION that plagues everyone. Real self esteem is un breakable. Seeing a skinny girl or ripped guy on the cover of a magazine, photoshopped or not is not going to make you make-out with a toilet bowl after every snack if you have real self esteem. People with self esteem don’t need to be validated by seeing their carbon copy, flaws and all on the cover of a magazine.

    This movement will only pacify and add to the problem. We have to move pass needing a thumbs up from others on every aspect of who we are and what we do. The sense of fufillment we get from the validation we get from others is like a drug. Its great for a minute then you just need more.

    A true sense of self worth and self esteem is so much more valuable and everyone has to find that within themselves.