October 20, 2019
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Waterville girl victorious in quest against magazine images altered to make girls look skinnier

Leanne Italie | AP
Leanne Italie | AP
Emma Stydahar, 17, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., left, Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, Maine, and Natasha Williams, 17, of East Flatbush, N.Y., are shown at a "Seventeen" magaine protest outside Hearst Corp. headquarters in May.

WATERVILLE, Maine — A Waterville girl’s quest to force Seventeen magazine to use fewer digitally altered photos of girls and young women has met success after more than 84,000 people signed an online petition.

Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, said in an online posting Tuesday that an editor’s note in Seventeen’s August issue was a “huge victory.”

“I am so unbelievably happy,” wrote Bluhm, who could not be reached for comment by the Bangor Daily News on Thursday.

Bluhm, who writes a blog for the website sparksummit.com, created an online petition at Change.org and in May delivered her petition and staged a protest at Seventeen’s New York City headquarters.

Seventeen Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket wrote in an editor’s note in the August issue that Seventeen has always used minimal digital alterations of photos of its models, but would redouble that effort in response to protests from Bluhm and others.

“While we work hard behind the scenes to make sure we’re being authentic, your notes made me realize that it was time for us to be more public about our commitment,” wrote Shoket. “So we created a Body Peace Treaty for the magazine staff — a list of vows on how we run things here so we always make you feel amazing! And we’ve gotten some pretty major friends to support us: The National Eating Disorders Association; Healthy MEdia: Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls; and our own Body Peace guru, Jessica Weiner. Plus, to show how serious we are, everyone on staff has signed it!”

In the magazine’s “Body Peace Treaty,” which was published with Shoket’s letter, the magazine vowed to never change girls’ body or face shapes; celebrate “every kind of beauty”; feature “real girls” regardless of clothing size; and strive for transparency in photography methods through the magazine’s Tumblr account.

One of the final items in the Body Peace Treaty is as follows:

“[We’ll] give you the confidence to walk into any room and own it. Say bye-bye to those nagging insecurities that you’re not good enough or pretty enough — they’re holding you back from being awesome in the world!”

In her posting Tuesday, Bluhm said she is now supporting another Change.org petition which was started by others to pressure Teen Vogue magazine to also use less alterations of photographs.

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