Dear Seventeen Magazine,
You are an enigma to me. You claim to have the best interests of teen girls at heart, but while some of your actions very clearly reflect that goal, others just as clearly do not.
Last year, after you were called out by teen activist Julia Bluhm for Photoshopping models on your pages, you did what nobody thought you would: you listened. And took her message — and that of the 50,000 or so folks who signed her petition on Change.org — to heart. You committed to put down the airbrush and give girls images of real people in your pages. Amazing! What's more, you even took the issue one step further by creating your Body Peace Pledge, asking girls to make peace with their bodies, to accept themselves for who they are, to stop wasting energy on their insecurities, and most importantly, to "quit judging a person solely by how his or her body looks — even if it seems harmless — because I'd never want anyone to do that to me."
The Body Peace Pledge is beautifully written. And I can see by the 90,000 teen girls who have signed this pledge to date that you are really making a difference in the way young girls see themselves when they look in the mirror. Which is why it is so puzzling to me that you have suddenly decided to partner with a reality television show like The Biggest Loser, a program with a reputation for placing looks above all else, even the health of its participants.
Your blog features teen contestant Sunny Chandrasekar's "Biggest Loser" audition video, in which the 16-year-old tells viewers: "I want to love myself ... which is something I find hard to do at times, at this weight. Secondly, I want to look fabulous for prom." What ever happened to the Peace Pledge tenants of "know that I'm already beautiful just the way I am" and "I will not let my size define me?"
The overall message of "Biggest Loser" is that losing weight should be the most important thing in a person's life. Participants are shamed and degraded, pushed to and beyond the limits of what might be considered healthy, and forced to focus on nothing but eating and exercise to shed those pounds.
I cannot think of a message that is more inappropriate for teen girls to hear.
On the one hand, you are encouraging girls to make peace with their bodies, while on the other hand you are asking them to declare war on their weight.
So which is it, Seventeen? War or peace?
I am thoroughly confused.