14-Year-Old Delivers 25,000 Anti-Photoshop Signatures to Seventeen MagazineMay-03-2012
"I didn't think it was going to get this big," said a trench-coat-clad 14-year-old Julia Bluhm as she stood in the drizzle outside the Midtown skyscraper where Seventeen magazine is headquartered. Bluhm was talking about the online petition she started askingSeventeen to produce one photo spread per month without the aid of Photoshop. Spread through social media, Bluhm's petition attracted around 6,000 signatures in ten days, and then - with the help of a press release from a San Francisco PR firm that led to broader coverage on blogs (including this one) - the number swelled to 13,000, then 16,000, then 20,000. As of right now, the petition counts over 26,000 signatories. (Bluhm had printed out just under 25,000 worth before this morning's protest to hand-deliver to Seventeen editor Ann Shoket). "This is really exciting," said Bluhm. "I now know that there are a lot of girls who feel the same way as I do about this."
Bluhm - an 8th grader from Waterville, Maine, who took the day off from school to come to the New York demonstration with her mother - decided to start the petition because, she says, "We know that Photoshop can be very harmful to girls because they think they have to look like these images. But it's not even real, it's Photoshop. So it's kind of impossible to look like that in real life." Bluhm coordinated her petition with SPARK, a group she's active in and which organized today's protest - on the SPARK Web site, you can see posts Bluhm has written about body image and ballet, her chosen extra-curricular, women athletes she admires, and why it bugs her when her classmates call her "ladylike."
"I chose Seventeen to target because I know that Seventeen is already doing a lot to help girls to feel better about their body image," Bluhm said, citing the magazine's Pretty Amazing contest, which offers college scholarships to girls who make outstanding contributions to their communities through volunteer work.
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