14-year-old Julia Bluhm is a real girl. The eighth-grader from rural Waterville, Maine, loves ballet, hanging out with friends, and flipping through magazines. Bluhm also recently became a national star for her role in challenging the popular teen magazine, Seventeen, to feature more real girls like herself and less of the Photoshopped models who she says warp girls' self-esteem.
"I've always just known how Photoshop can have a big effect on girls and their body image and how they feel about themselves," Bluhm told The Huffington Post. "You need to see something realistic — you need to see a reflection of what truly represents a teenage girl nowadays."
Bluhm is also a teen blogger for SPARK, a nonprofit organization for young girls that calls itself a "girl-fueled activist movement to demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media." Two weeks ago, the teen activist started a petition on Change.org, "Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls!" The petition, directed at Seventeen's editor-in-chief, asks that the magazine print one unaltered photo spread in each issue. As of this morning her petition had more than 48,500 signatures.
This week, Bluhm took to the streets with her issue. Bluhm, her mother and several representatives from SPARK traveled to New York where they picketed in front of the Hearst Tower, where Seventeen offices are located, to protest the magazine's use of Photoshop and deliver the petition's signatures to the magazine's executive editor.
Seventeen's executive editor invited Bluhm and her mom on a tour of the office and had a sit-down chat with the young activist. Afterward, the magazine released this statement to Jezebel:
"We're proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue — it's exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers — so we invited her to our office to meet with editor in chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and that's how we present them. We feature real girls in our pages and there is no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity."
Will Bluhm take this "Thanks, but no thanks" response and walk away? Not likely.
Follow Bluhm's blog on SPARK to find out how she'll respond.