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Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Julia Bluhm

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by Melissa Silverstein
May 7, 2012 11:10 AM
5 Comments
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Julia Bluhm

Maybe it will take an awesome girl to get people to think differently about how absurd and damaging it is that we live in a world dominated by photoshopped pictures.  We never get to see anyone real, so we have no idea what real looks like.  We all know that looking at women who look unrealistic -- a recent reminder is the HBO ads for Girls which total photoshops Lena Dunham to an absurd degree -- makes women more insecure about how they look and also makes try and look like people who are fake.  Which we all know is impossible.

14-year-old Maine teenager Julia Bluhm had enough of the girls around her thinking they were fat for no reason other than the images they saw in magazines so she took matters into her own hands and started a petition -- which already has over 56,000 signatures -- to Seventeen magazine asking for more realistic images of girls.  She is asking the magazine to "commit to printing one unaltered — real — photo spread per month.”

Awesome.

Julia and Ann

We all know the problem is not just Seventeen.  It's everywhere.  But raising awareness and talking about it and getting others -- including the boys in her class -- to think about this issue is a great way to start. 

Julia and her mom came to NY last week to protest outside the offices of Seventeen against their practices of photoshopping.  The protest got picked up in the media so much so that the editors at Seventeen -- who were a bit upset that their magazine was singled out for protest --  felt compelled to engage with the protest and so Julia got to meet the editor in chief Ann Shocket.

What this should remind all of us is the power these magazines still have and the fact that many girls, even those with a heightened awareness, are reading them, and we also should remember that they have the potential to be tools for change.

Thank you Julia for getting people talking about this.

A Real Girl, 14, Takes a Stand Against the Flawless Faces in Magazines (NY Times)

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5 Comments

  • Bes | July 8, 2012 11:57 AMReply

    The problem is there is no widely distributed alternative. So saying "if you don't like it don't buy it and read something else" is disingenuous, there is no something else for girls. A small number of companies produce all media and no one else has a voice because even if they produce a more desirable product they can't get a spot on the magazine racks or a channel on the cable line up to distribute their product. Also girls are not considered to be customers of the media compaines, men who buy advertising are the customers. The MO of girl's and women's magazines is "we are going to tell you what is wrong with you and how you deviate from perfection and then we are going to sell you product to correct your multiple deficiencies". The MO of men's magazines is,"you are just fine, sit on your average sweatpanted ass and check out these women who are presenting for your approval". If someone sold a magazine to females that said "you are just fine sit on your average sweatpanted ass and check out these hot men then read our stories on other average looking happy successful women" They would out sell anything on the market now. But I remember a few years ago a new magazine for girls named Justeen came out. It was great and it was authentic. It was quickly bought out by big media and normalized to the industry standard of being and directed at male advertizing buyers and ignored the girl readers. I am surprised that there are not girls magazines put put by non profits and written by girls with girls as the declared customers.

  • Linn | July 8, 2012 12:37 PM

    What about this amazing online publication? Created by a young female teenager at the age of 15 (she is now almost 16).
    Rookie is…
    …an online publication for teenage girls featuring writing, photography, illustrations, videos, and more from a lovely staff and our readers. The site features monthly “issues,” each revolving around a theme. We post just three times a day – after school, after dinner, and before bed.

    There are lots of ways to navigate through the site – you can sort by categories and tags and authors and browse and search and more. We’ll leave you to discover your favorite method.

    Editor-in-Chief Tavi Gevinson first mentioned the concept for Rookie on her blog, Style Rookie, in April 2010, and received a huge response. This resulting site is the result of hard work and dedication from a vital group of writers, editors, photographers,videographers, designers, programmers, and thinkers. It’s also an independent venture. Rookie features advertising that helps sustain its existence, and we’re happy to have it, but we’re beholden to no one. Staff and contributors have editorial freedom and own their own material.

    But enough about us! We want to hear from you.

    Editor-in-Chief - Tavi Gevinson
    Editorial Director and Story Editor – Anaheed Alani
    Managing Editor – Lauren Redding
    Deputy Editor – Phoebe Reilly
    Advisor and Editor – Emily Condon

    Design – Rumors – Renda Morton, Andy Pressman and Zack Seuberling
    Project Manager – Jeremy Zilar
    Logo and Illustration design – Cynthia Merhej

  • Jen | July 7, 2012 2:58 PMReply

    The difficulty is, there is no clear limit or line drawn. Whether it's a female body being reshaped or a burger made 20% juicier and enlarged and freshened for unrealistic advertising, of course excellent photos try to show the very best of their subject. But using Photoshop "just" to smooth or improve lighting leads to "just" fixing a blemish here and "just" trimming an extra curve, or enhancing one shadow in the right place, until appearances are unrealistically gorgeous while trying to pass as a casually caught moment not a staged and doctored image. Even if our conscious minds TELL us this is the case, our natural subconscious thoughts still compete with them and denigrate ourselves for never measuring up. That's been an issue for decades, more noticeable these days with everyone able to see these processes online or in the classroom. Bravo to this one girl for speaking out about it; far too many people agree but wouldn't think they could ever change it.

  • classycareergirl | June 27, 2012 5:29 AMReply

    I would say I'm not against with photoshop but I agree that we also need to post real photos on a magazine. When you use photoshop it doesn't mean you'll change everything maybe fix a little on the photo like brightness, exposure just to make it look better. I think most of us wants to look good even on photos because a lot of people will be able to see it. But I appreciate what Julia did. :)

  • Michael Medeiros | May 8, 2012 5:09 PMReply

    Basically, magazines, most hollywood films, TV shows are a kind of candy. If you don't like the taste consider consuming something else. But people seem to be unaware of their power of choice. Michael Medeiros, Tiger Lily Road is a feature film about real women. Guarenteed no photoshopped. Can you handle it? Bennett Park Films (dot) com.

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