Seeing herself altered to look a certain way sparked something inside Jess Quinn, a young woman on a mission to fight body image stereotypes.

The 26-year-old is a model and social media influencer who was a finalist in the latest series of Dancing With The Stars. She is also a cancer survivor and amputee, after losing a leg to the disease when she was 9 years old.

Quinn's quest is to persuade MPs to introduce a law that requires any commercially used photo of a model that's been significantly altered to carry a caption saying so.

"I had an image of my own Photoshopped. It was subtle ... and I think it was not a fun thing to go through. It kind of opened my eyes that it's still going on now.''


The photo was altered in an issue of The Australian Woman's Weekly. Editor Michele Crawshaw couldn't be reached for comment yesterday, but told media at the time many organisations altered images before publication to enhance lighting.

Quinn, who studied fashion at university, said she always knew it went on but did not think she would experience it.

Social media star and amputee Jess Quinn wants people to know that they are ok to be themselves. Photo / Doug Sherring
Social media star and amputee Jess Quinn wants people to know that they are ok to be themselves. Photo / Doug Sherring

"In this day and age - where we're so open about body image and being true to ourselves - I thought [it would be] minimised.

"But with social media and all of these other pressures, it's kind of growing.''

She wanted girls to be able to look at magazines without comparing themselves to something that was not reality.

"All of these models are absolutely beautiful people, naturally. There is no need to Photoshop them at all.

"Yet they're being Photoshopped to the point where they have no flaws, no moles on their skins, no slight scarring - nothing.

"And these young girls are comparing themselves to something like that and, a lot of the time, they don't know that that image is being Photoshopped."


Quinn's petition is due to be launched over the next few days. Her goal is to get 100,000 signatures before presenting it to Parliament.

She says she was advised to start a petition by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, after Quinn's team reached out to her.

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Sometimes I look at a photo like this and I'm like "wow, I LEGIT have one leg". Now that probably sounds like the stupidest thing I could EVER say but hear me out. Back in the day, I never would have forgotten, it would've been the first thing I saw and the last thing to leave my mind. Why? Because I was so focused on it as an insecurity that it never left my mind. But now, it's not necessarily the first thing I notice & when I do notice it my reaction is more of a, " THAT is a cool leg". (I swear this story will make sense...ok, maybe not but I hope it does) Think about when you have a pimple on your face, it's all you can focus on, you're convinced everyone is staring at it and you can not see past it in the mirror but 9 times out of 10 you tell your friend about it and they legitimately hadn't even noticed it. Sure, a part of me has probably just become so used to this being me that it's near impossible to imagine any different OR maybe when I started to accept the body I now had it became less of a focus & eventually, I learnt to love it. Maybe that all made ZERO sense, but maybe it makes sense to one human out there who is struggling with an insecurity? Don't let it become your focus. I'm not saying ignore it but while you're learning to love yourself exactly as you are, don't forget about all the things that make you BEAUTIFUL. ๐Ÿ“ธ @iambrijana #beyoutiful #effyourbeautystandards #beyou #selflove

A post shared by ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ Jess Quinn (@jessicaemilyquinn) on

"To have the Prime Minister of New Zealand reply to a message - I'm sure she's got some other massive things going on - it was really amazing."

A spokeswoman for Ardern said the Prime Minister was unavailable for comment, but acknowledged how rare it was to get a reply; given she receives more than 20,000 pieces of correspondence a year.

The petition will go live around the same time as a TED Talk by Quinn.

The Technology, Entertainment and Design programme is about spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful speeches by people from all walks of life.

Jess Quinn is not alone in speaking out about having images of her altered to pretty them up. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jess Quinn is not alone in speaking out about having images of her altered to pretty them up. Photo / Doug Sherring

Quinn's talk, Unreality, focuses on body image and the idea life is often not how we think it is.

"When I've felt my most beautiful is when I'm confident in my own skin and that kind of has nothing to do with how I look compared to someone else.

"For me, it was when I didn't put my worth in my appearance.''

Quinn's not the first well-known face to speak out after an image was altered.

In 2003 Kate Winslet complained after a heavily edited image of herself appeared on the cover of GQ magazine. "The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly, I don't desire to look like that," she said.

And Lorde took to Twitter in 2014 to remind people "flaws are ok" after pictures of her were altered to remove acne on her face.

Quinn's petition can be accessed here