Airbrushing in the media

One of the reason’s I wanted to go into journalism was to write those feel good stories that most everyone loves to read.  Sure the hard hitting, news-worthy articles are important, but I think those stories that make people think and those that bring awareness to issues are important too.  For me, those that especially touch my heart are the ones that encourage young women to love themselves.

You know that when I come across an article I love, I always want to share it with my readers as well.  Yesterday while perusing the Internet, I came across this little gem:

Teen Girl Petitions Seventeen Magazine to Stop Airbrushing Models

A 14-year-old girl, Julia Bluhm is an activist who is challenging the media to take responsibility for how it affects young girls’ self esteem.  That’s right, at the age of 14 Julia already realizes the problem with the message being sent to her and her peers regarding physical looks.  I don’t know about you, but 14 was quite the growing age for me.  I think middle school is such a tough time for girls and this was definitely the age I first started to notice how women looked in fashion magazines, on television, in movies, etc.  However, at this age I also didn’t realize that everything in the media should be taken with a grain of salt and not everyone looks as perfect, or has as perfect of a life, as it is represented in all of these media outlets I was seeing.

Julia has started a petition asking Seventeen magazine to print one un-retouched photo per month in its magazine.  She also led a protest outside of Seventeen magazine’s office in Manhattan on Wednesday morning.

"To girls today, the word ‘pretty’ means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that ‘pretty’ girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.” – Julia Bluhm

Okay, we can’t all lead a protest in New York City, and we may not feel ready to create a petition for change, but we as women can encourage young girls around us to love themselves everyday.  Any impact we make is a huge one and it is important that these girls realize that 99% of what they see in media is false, it is an illusion!  Although these young girls look up to the celebrities they see on television, I would safely guess that most of these girls look up to their moms, sisters, aunts, etc. more than they even do the girls on their favorite tv shows.  I am so proud of Julia Bluhm and the national coverage she is creating at such a young age.  However, we can be our own ‘Julia Bluhm’ in our homes, or at work, or in the school systems.  I am not a mom yet, but I pray everyday that one day I will be the best mom I can be.  I hope to encourage my daughters, and hopefully my daughters’ friends, that they are enough and are perfect in everyway.  It took me until just the last couple of years to truly find my own personal love for myself, and I don’t want my girls to ever doubt their inner beauty for a second.  However, I know life is not perfect and they will feel down at times.  My mom was absolutely amazing and still is to this day, always encouraging and loving, but I still struggled with self-love.  When my daughter doubts herself, that is when I will pray that I can be the strongest I’ve ever been and am there for her everyday as long as I live.

If you want to read more about Julia, check her out on SPARK, a non-profit organization for 13 to 22 year-olds, where she blogs about girls and self-esteem.  Julia even has the American Medical Association on her side:

In June 2011, they (American Medical Association) issued a press release stating, "A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems." Board member Barbara L. McAneny, MD, added, "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software."

I challenge you today, this weekend, or next week to make a difference in a young girls life, or a woman’s life.  Let’s be honest, I may be 23 years old, but I need encouragement as well!  I sometimes forget that those gorgeous super models, beautiful actresses, and pretty singers have their own issues too and don’t wake up everyday looking like a million bucks.  Let’s encourage our moms, sister, friends, co-workers, etc. to remember how perfect they are.  Also, remind them that they aren’t ever alone in their struggles.  Here is a devotion that my mom sent me this morning that spoke to me:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4-6


Make this Thursday a great one!



What do you think about how the media re-touches photos?

How can we encourage women/girls everyday to love themselves from the inside out?

What do you think of Julia Bluhm’s campaign?

Do you ever need a reminder of what’s real and not real in the media world?

17 thoughts on “Airbrushing in the media

  1. This is an awesome post. Young girls can never hear positive encouragement. Television and print media portray a very deceptive view of beauty. Beauty is from within first, build a heart and spirit of strength and integrity, then put on a little make-up.

  2. I think parents also need to be responsible for explaining how false that advertising can be. And I know if I have a daughter, I really want to avoid any negative self-talk in front of her. Kids are going to copy their parents’ behavior, so if you want your daughter to have a positive self-image, it starts with having your own positive self-image.

    • Wow, I really agree that we need to watch even the slightest comments we say of ourselves. Even when we’re with friends, we should try not to make “I need to go on a diet” comments, but it’s even more so if we have impressionable children. Thanks for bringing up a great point!

  3. What a great post! I hadn’t heard of this. Like you, I pray daily for my future children and that I will be able to instill a positive self-image in them despite what society says. Even as a Christian woman, I know I still struggle with my own self-image. I think it is incredible what Julia is doing!

  4. I know when I was a teen, watching those commercials of girls with flawless skin claiming it was the work of a cleanser or something? It made we want to run to the store and buy the product. I do agree with this girl who says that they shouldn’t airbrush for Seventeen magazine. Since they are targeting a younger audience, they should try to convey a more positive and uplifting message!

    • Yes I agree! Cosmo re-touching is one thing because it is geared to adults and most at least know the flawless pictures are real (even if we have to be reminded sometimes)! However, a magazine like Seventeen, which is directed to young girls, needs to be more cautious of how it presents a body image.

  5. What a strong young woman! I wish I was half as aware when I was 14 as she is – thanks for sharing her story! I will certianly be following her progress.

    I have the same thoughts about “When I have a daughter” and hope that by living a lifestyle that is healthy, I will set an example that beauty is SO much more than perfect hair and skin, a skinny waist and big boobs!

  6. I 100% promise that none of my photos are re-touched. I have a 7 month old daughter and I shutter to think how her life will be shaped by the media. I know that I will do my best to let her know that she is perfect the way she is and beautiful inside and out. Great share, great post.

  7. I’m so happy I found this blogging community! I agree with you and Laurie about how encouraging and supportive it is! I’m 15 years old and its funny how different my role models are from my friends now that I’m exposed to a different environment. I now look up to normal, everyday women who also happen to be strong and good, and I learn a ton of lessons from them (ahem, you!) everyday. 🙂

  8. Awesome post!! I think it’s amazing what that girl is doing! Good for her :). I know that I can be impacted my images in the media and that’s why I really try not to ogle over them too much. I know that if I have a daughter, I will want to always remind her that she is beautiful and I won’t want to berate my own image in front of her!

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