Looking through the array of bright magazine covers lining newsstands everywhere, Seventeen magazine’s promises of finding 805 beauty and fashion ideas does not seem out of the ordinary. However, the August issue is also the launch of the magazine’s Body Peace Treaty, which pledges to reduce the amount of photoshopping in pictures and show “real girls as they really are.”
Seventeen’s editor, Ann Shoket, crafted an 8-point plan that promises that Seventeen will “never change girls’ body or face shape,” “feature real girls and models who are healthy,” and “celebrate every kind of beauty.”
This pledge was inspired by 14-year old Julie Bluhm, a reader who started an online petition asking the magazine to stop airbrushing its photos after hearing other girls in her ballet class complaining about being “too fat.” The petition received over 84,000 signatures, which not only got the attention of Seventeen, but a promise to do something about it as well.
So, could Seventeen’s treaty be the end to society’s unhealthy obsession with airbrushed photos and unobtainable standards of beauty?
Sadly, the answer is probably no. It is no secret that airbrushing and Photoshop are common features in any kind of published photo. There have even been instances of people using Photoshop to edit their own private photos before uploading them on social-networking site like Facebook. For the media-savvy generation, it is no secret that photoshopping is almost obligatory for any kind of photo shoot, but even with our knowledge of its use, that does not discount the negative effects it has on our society. Over 24 million people suffer from some form of an eating disorders, and the root of these problems are often linked to rampant advertising that portray skinny, overly-bronzed, hyper-sexualized women as the ideal woman. A study found that 3 minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine caused 70% of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful. It does not help that the average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day.
When Seventeen was first published in 1944, the average model was around 5’7” and 130 lbs and Marilyn Monroe was the woman of every man (and woman’s) dreams. Today, the average model is 5’11” and 115 lbs and the thin starlets like Blake Lively and Rooney Mara are epitome of beauty. With almost 70 years in the publishing industry, Seventeen has seen a lot of changes in what constitutes ‘beauty.” However, their body-peace pledge might be one that wee all need to take.