That’s all 13-year-old Julia Bluhm wants from Seventeen magazine. Julia’s tired of hearing her classmates hate on their bodies and beat themselves up (emotionally and physically) in pursuit of truly impossible standards.
She has reason to be concerned. The typical teen or tween consumes 10 hours and 45 minutes of media each day. Laced among those magazine pages, TV episodes, and fashion blogs are powerful messages:
Be thin. Be sexy (but not too sexy!). Be quiet. Be pretty.
Lest you feel tempted to brush off a few ol’ advertisements or airbrushed Kardashians, let me repeat that young adults spend nearly 11 hours a day looking at these messages. That much exposure could penetrate marble, much less the minds of young adults still looking for their place in the societal pecking order. As a result, many young women carry a dented sense of self-worth well into adulthood…when, of course, women are confronted with a host of other messages about how they should look, act, and feel.
Magazines that cater to young women commonly fill their pages with fluffy articles about healthy body image, as Seventeen does. But when these articles are accompanied by heavily-Photoshopped images, or sandwiched between advertisements of waify, doe-eyed women draped over couches, the message rings hollow.
With nearly 60,000 signatures on Ms. Bluhm’s Change.org petition, it’s clear that the issue is not one of whether young people want to see more realistic and representative images in their media. It’s whether editors at Seventeen and other publications will choose to listen.