Rebecca Kamm

Poking a stick at ladies' issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities.

Rebecca Kamm: Seventeen magazine agrees to ban photoshop

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Here's a happy little update: a few months ago I wrote about teenage activist Julia Bluhm, the plucky 14-year-old behind a petition asking US Seventeen magazine to include at least one UN-photoshopped spread in every issue.

"I know much how much pictures in the media have an effect in the self-esteem of girls and their body image," Julia said. "Seventeen magazine is supposed to be a relatable magazine. How can we related to computer altered photos?"

Finally, 85,000 petition signatures later, Seventeen editor Ann Shoket has buckled. From now on, her retouching team will leave body shapes alone, keeping digital manipulation for stray hairs, clothing wrinkles, and other non limb-related offenses. What's more, when photoshop is used, the magazine's Tumblr will display the before-and-after shots.

The new rules form part of a new pact Seventeen has dubbed its "body peace treaty" - a list of promises like, "We vow to always feature real girls and models who are healthy," and, "We vow to never change girls' body or face shapes."

There's also a "body peace pledge" for readers, who are encouraged to "remind myself that what you see isn't always what you get on TV and in ads - it takes a lot of airbrushing, dieting, money, and work to look like that."

It's kind of hard not to notice the headlines to the side of the online body peace pledge and raise an eyebrow - "Tips To Look Amazing All Summer Long", "Work Out Like A Star", and so on. Also, Shoket has always carefully skirted around any kind of open confession around the use of photoshop on Seventeen models' bodies. But it's a start - and Bluhm and her pals now have their sights set on Teen Vogue.

In related news - closer to home, and offering a hopeful glimpse of concurrent evolution (please enjoy that term. It took me 40 minutes to recall) - influential media personality Mia Freeman has reacted to the controversial resurrection of Australia's Dolly magazine model contest. Which Freeman herself banned as Dolly's editor-in-chief in 2005.

"...why did I axe it? Because I thought the message it sent to girls - that the most important thing about you is how you look - was an appalling one. A negative one. A damaging one," she writes. "... I wish they wouldn't hold up modelling as the ultimate prize, a career to aspire to, a life to covet."

The 13-year-old Dolly model contest winner, Kirsty Thatcher, was announced this week in Sydney. (Girlfriend magazine's most recent modelling contest was also won by a 13-year-old.) Thatcher - for her efforts - has won a lucrative modelling contract with Sydney agency, Chadwick. She'll probably turn into a Victoria's Secret mannequin and walk the runway minutes after giving birth for $10 million. Whatever - Julia Bluhm's got my vote.

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