Former Seventeen Magazine Editor Endorses Maine Teen’s Campaign for Real Girls

A former editor at Seventeen Magazine has announced her support for 14-year-old Waterville resident Julia Bluhm’s (pictured) campaign on Change.org asking the magazine to take steps to promote positive body image among girls. Bluhm’s petition on Change.org has garnered more than 60,000 signatures since its launch in April.

Dede Lahman, a former editor at Seventeen Magazine, joined Julia’s campaign on Change.org after reading about the high-profile mock photoshoot the teenager staged in front of Seventeen headquarters last week.

Lehman says she left the magazine industry because she felt her young readers deserved better than gratuitously altered images.

“As a former Seventeen editor and advice columnist, I fought for more realistic images for our readers,” said Lahman. “Eventually, I quit and traveled nationwide, speaking about what the magazine did to make our models look perfect and how to decode the misleading advertising and stay grounded in reality.”

“I stopped doing this work over a decade ago, but after reading about Julia’s campaign in the New York Times this past Friday, I had to voice support for her petition,” continued Lahman. “In an ideal world, Julia wouldn’t need to request one unaltered photo spread a month, because unaltered photos would already be the norm. However, in the glossy world of magazines, truth and beauty are not always one and the same. I think a reasonable first step for Seventeen to take toward Julia’s ultimate goal would be to do a behind-the-scenes piece about how a photo shoot comes together. After all, girls can only run the world if they’re privy to its tricks.”

Last Wednesday, Bluhm delivered her Change.org petition signatures to Seventeen Magazine Editor-in-Chief Ann Shocket following her mock photo shoot. According to Bluhm, Shocket refused to commit to running one unaltered photo spread per month but promised to stay in touch to work on an unnamed project to promote positive body image among the magazine’s readers. When later pressed by the New York Times, Shocket declined to answer whether or not the magazine digitally alters images of its models.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a University of Maine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, taken belly dancing classes, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.