High Schoolers Protest Outside Teen Vogue Headquarters, Demand End To Photoshopping
2:00 pm, July 11th | by Laura Donovan
Two months after 14-year-old Julia Bluhm called on Seventeen to start featuring more realistic images of young women in the glossy pages of the magazine, fellow SPARK movement activists Emma Stydahar and Carina Cruz led a mock photoshoot protest of their own in hopes of convincing Teen Vogue to never alter the photographs of models and include more diverse content.
The Wednesday protest, which was held right across the street from Condé Nast’s headquarters, attracted a noticeably larger crowd than Bluhm’s May gathering, but it was raining that day, so that must be taken into account. Seventeen-year-old Stydahar, who stopped subscribing to Teen Vogue upon seeing too many pictures that made her feel self-conscious, was pleased with the turnout — and that her petition has received nearly 30,000 signatures. The photoshoot didn’t last long, but the SPARK team remained in the area surrounding the Teen Vogue building to answer questions and chat with journalists before delivering the signatures to the mag higher-ups.
“The end result is to hopefully widen the array of what ‘beautiful’ means to us as a society,” Stydahar told reporters. When asked by The Jane Dough whether there are other publications Stydahar has considered protesting, she said, “Right now we’re focusing on Teen Vogue, but we’ll see what happens.” Stydahar also expressed an interest in reading more about diverse women and people of different backgrounds, and that was in line with what partner Cruz said in the event press release:
“I’m a Teen Vogue reader, and I want the magazine to publicly commit to their readers, like Seventeen did, to never alter the body size or face shape of the girls and models in their magazine and feature diverse beauty in their pages. As a girl of color who has struggled with my weight, I want Teen Vogue to tell girls like me that they think we’re beautiful just as we are.”
Stydahar says she’s all about transparency and that even if a magazine were to Photoshop out a bra strap or something insignificant, readers have the right to know. There’s also the possibility of creating a whole new magazine for young girls, kind of like how Jane and Sassy catered to those who wanted something other than straight celebrity news. But when The Jane Dough broached the possibility of starting a new magazine with Stydahar, she laughed and said she hadn’t thought about launching a mag of her own to counter what Teen Vogue may be doing to the self-esteem of young ladies. Understandable, as she’s not even 18 yet!
When asked by The Jane Dough how she would respond to writer Jim Warren’s argument that maybe Photoshopped pictures are good for kids, as the children could learn to view doctored images the way they’re conditioned to perceive scary flicks (“It’s just a movie”), Stydahar said horror films can be frightening even though they’re not real:
“I know when I was a kid, scary movies still scared me and it’s the same thing with these photos. It doesn’t matter if you tell them it’s not real, it’s already been set up in our society that this is the standard for beauty and that’s what we’re looking to change.”
Given the increased amount of attention this new anti-teen magazine Photoshop movement has gotten over the past few months, it’s only a matter of time before more young ladies begin protesting other magazines targeted at youth. While these petitions certainly have an impact, I worry that too many copycat protests could make people take the campaigns less seriously.