While browsing the internet in between classes, I found a rather interesting article on Mashable. It seems a 14-year old teenager from Maine has had enough with photoshop in her magazines – she’s started a petition on Change.org that demands Seventeen magazine publish one unaltered photo spread each month.
Julie Bluhm, the young activist, is an 8th grader and loyal Seventeen reader. But she takes not that the women you see in the magazine have likely been heavily photoshopped, airbrushed, and edited to look thinner – not exactly the image of the average American woman.
Make makes Blumn’s petition interesting is the fact it’s gone viral. While originally started on Change.org (an online petition website), it has spread to Facebook and attracted the attention of news media.
With the already steady decline in the print journalism industry, I fully understand the desire of magazine’s to alter photos to make the person look more appealing. But should teen magazines fall under that category? 12-14 year old girls are at such an impressionable age that viewing altered photos can fall into dangerous territory. Teenage girls already struggle with body image – shouldn’t we consider the effect this might be having on them?
As frustrating as this is, I don’t feel like the publications are solely to blame. With the majority of news sources slowly moving and more online, print newspapers and magazines have been forced to take desperate measures. As harsh as it sounds, would sales increase if Seventeen used “normal” girls in their magazine? I’m sure their are strong opinions on both sides, but truthfully, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Ethics can be a tricky topic in all forms of media. Beyond journalism, social media and digital marketers need to look at their content. On the internet, it’s all too easy for people to remain anonymous. Rumors can spread like wildfire on sites like Twitter. Journalists and those in these industries need to remember that what’s published on the internet can come back to haunt them – reporting on a story and then ranting about it on a personal blog is definitely not professional.
So what do we do? I’m not going to take a stance on the use of photoshop in advertising because I can really see both sides of the issue. But I do want to stress that you should be entirely conscious of what you are putting out there. Branding yourself involves a fine line – how much can you share to be relateable but also professional? It’s just something to think about…