It's all over the news. A 14-year-old girl from Maine has done the seemingly impossible; she has forced mainstream media to listen and change their modus operandi.
A few weeks ago Julia Bluhm decided she was fed up with being fed pictures of ultra-thin, unrealistic images of beauty. Although most models in the industry are already well under the average weight, editors have continuously photoshopped and airbrushed these young girls to look even thinner, smoother, and flawless. Julia, as well as countless others, intuitively understood the potentially damaging effects of this trend. Unlike others, Julia decided to do something and turned to activism. She began a petition on Change.org against Seventeen Magazine, and within days, over 84,000 people showed their support. Now, a few weeks later, Seventeen has taken the bold step of committing to offering healthy, diverse, and realistic models of beauty to their young readers.
While some skeptics states that Seventeen magazine could potentially get around this agreement by hiring even thinner models, I think it is safe to say that this a significant step in the right direction for the physical and mental health of young women. Additionally, it has spurred momentum with a new group of girls, led by Emma Stydahar and Carina Cruz, now targeting Teen Vogue.
You may be wondering why all of this is important, and why the media is buzzing about the recent turn of events. My guess is this is because we all personally understand the power that media has over us. Every single one of us is routinely bombarded by images that remind us that we are not tall enough, not thin enough, not perfect enough. And this translates to a lot of pain. It is estimated that currently 8 million Americans are struggling with an eating disorder, and that 1 in 200 American women suffers from anorexia, a disorder characterized by a distorted self-image that leads to progressively more restricted eating. By changing our images of beauty, we may very well be one step closer to accepting and recognizing the beauty within us.