Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Victory for Young Consumer Activist: Seventeen’s Body Peace Treaty

Julia Bluhm organized a petition to Seventeen magazine asking that they provide girls with more realistic images of beauty. This article shares the fact that Seventeen has agreed, making a Body Peace Treaty with girls that guarantees that they won’t use photo editing to alter girls’ faces or bodies.

This event is important for two reasons. First, because this campaign began and was organized by an adolescent girl. She was tired of hearing her friends complain about their body size and weight, and decided to set up a petition on change. org. The fact that Julia was able to express her own perspective and be heard at a national level is hugely important for young consumer activists. From now on, whenever a child or adolescent thinks about wanting to try to make real change, Julia will be an inspiration to them.

Secondly, Seventeen listened to their target audience. As activists, parents, and child development experts have fought sexualization and stereotypes this past year, we’ve run up against several companies that just don’t seem to care what their target audience thinks, believes, or wants. But the fact that Seventeen has committed to being more transparent to their audience about how they use image altering technology builds a strong case that companies can respond positively to consumer feedback, and most likely benefit from it. Lego didn’t go this far, but their decision to meet with activists who had campaigned against their gendered advertising set a positive example for other companies as well.

I hope that the success of Julia’s campaign will spur other young activists to action. Share this story with your own kids, and encourage them to get out there and make a difference. Now, the pressure is on Teen Vogue!

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3 comments on “Victory for Young Consumer Activist: Seventeen’s Body Peace Treaty

  1. Love this enthusiasm, and still think Lego should partner (or fund?) Roominate.com to show and tell how to build with circuitry/creativity vs plastic assembly of spa la-la stuff. ;-) Even a smidge of that $40mill mktg budget could help them scale with STEM fun early on…(still haven’t written my post on it yet, gah!)

    As for the Seventeen mag front, I just sent you an update with a ‘medialiteracy’ angle of ‘what was left out’ of the convo amidst the challenge to Spark Change! For starters…the 14 year old’s name and actions—Not even a peep! http://www.shapingyouth.org/?p=19280 I’m with you 200% on getting youth themselves to use their voices, video, storytelling and beyond…and hope Julia’s efforts as both a reader response action-driven teen leave ripples far and wide in ‘what can be done’ inspiration! :-)

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      July 8, 2012

      Amy, totally agree! There’s a lot left out of Seventeen’s Body Treaty. Thanks for sharing the great media literacy information.

  2. Amazing that this girl took it upon herself to do this. It teaches other children that they can make changes if they are willing to do something about it. It is not all about the womens magazines – making the teen and pre-teen ones change the images they use is important as this is when girls are concerned about their bodies, if not, sadly, younger.

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