About two years ago, Julia Bluhm gave a magazine an idea that could have propelled it from mediocre (at best) to groundbreaking. I am bringing it up now because I recently wrote a rant on magazines, and I don’t like complaining without offering a solution. Granted, the solution for the over-sexualization and dumbing down of women’s magazines should be obvious (stop reiterating the same (weird) sex advice and start putting current events in your magazines). But nevertheless, this is a push in the right direction.
On May 3rd 2012, Jim Dwyer for the New York Times wrote a story on a red-headed, blue eyed cherub who led an online petition asking seventeen magazine to publish one untouched photo-spread per magazine in order to show what “real girls” look like, in the hopes of removing the impossible standards that have girls nation wide purging and starving. This impressive feat began in ballet class, where she claims her fellow dancers, like most adolescent women, “declared that they were having a fat day. Or that their skin was pimply or blemished. Or that they looked disgusting.” Which she, of course, thought was ludicrous.
To say the least, publishing unretouched photos would definitely cause a dent in the whirlwind of self- loath that has ravaged the nation since Twiggy first sat in front of a camera. In fact, many others agreed and she got 46,000 people to sign her petition. In addition, Bluhm actually managed to receive an invitation from Seventeen’s editor in chief Ann Shoket to discuss the matter. Did I mention? Julia Bluhm was fourteen at the time. Oh, the courage that comes from the mouth of babes.
Unfortunately, nothing really happened. Shoket and Bluhm exchanged emails, and although it WOULD be really cool if Seventeen led the way down the road of self- worth and body appreciation by not choosing emaciated waifs to grace their glossy pages, lets face it, its a stretch.
However, I do know this. At some point, some day, women are going to start getting fed up with the standards (if we are not already). The National Women’s Health Information Center states that fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female- and that is supposed to be seen as normal (Adolescent Girls and Body Image, NASW, 2001). Women nationwide are going to get fed up with feeling abnormal. And then, some mainstream magazine (Seventeen, possibly) will catch up with this trend and begin to actually show real girls in their magazines. They will defame the other magazines, saying they are contributing to the rise in eating disorders (which this magazine has already done, but never mind that). And do you know what will happen with this intelligent magazine? Their sales will skyrocket. Having already made a name for themselves in the conventional way, they will now use their name to promote something that girls and their mom’s have been praying for. Reality. Quite frankly, it was idiotic of Seventeen to refuse this offer. Yes, Bluhm singled them out of dozens of other magazines that do the same thing. But this was not a stroke of bad luck- this was an opportunity. Dove has been immensely successful with their campaigns for Real Beauty; it would have been nothing less for this magazine.
But, alas, they decided to maintain the status quo and continue along their fake, plastic and retouched way- to the detriment of their readership (and they call themselves feminists….). Perhaps one day (hopefully soon) another magazine will get the hint and start the revolution. Until then, we will wait.