Photoshop vs. the Internet

Posted by on Sep 10, 2012 in On The Street | 0 comments

It’s been the not-so-dirty secret weapon of glossies and a celebrity’s best friend for years, that tricky little portmanteau: photoshop. Possessing the ability to instantly take years off an otherwise geriatric Madonna, sweep away a weeks worth of Lohan’s hangover-induced under-eye baggage and even give Lady Gaga a kid-sized waist, it’s really no wonder that the magazine industry got its panties in a twist when a Julia Bluhm, a 14-year old girl wise beyond her years threatened to take away their beloved toy.

Bluhm, who is a member of the anti-sexualization activist group SPARK, made headlines when she started a petition against photoshop on She sparked a national debate on the effects of altered images upon impressionable young audiences. The petition eventually garnered enough signatures– 25,000, to be exact– to get a reaction from the magazine in question: Seventeen. At first, the results were unimpressive: Bluhm and her cohort of “real girls” got a cupcake-fueled tour of the Seventeen headquarters, a photo-op, and a thoroughly rehearsed sterile press statement equivalent to a slap on a tween face.

But happily, a few months later, editor-in-chief Ann Shoket had a change of heart and relented to the pressure of 85,000 signatures by vowing to use “real girls and models who are healthy” and “never change girls’ body or face shapes,” a huge victory for Bluhm and other haters of airbrushed, stick-skinny models.

Frankly, I was “shoket-ed” to see that the petition actually created real results in the magazine industry, whose revenue and readership hinges almost completely on the aesthetic look of their subjects. It further proved the power and inextricability of the internet and allowed real change to happen and break through to the established talking heads, something that most likely would not have happened had the internet not been a factor in play at the very beginning.


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