Seventeen Magazine Staff Signs Body Peace Treaty to Open Up about Photo Editing

As we divulged in our blog about Photoshop® mishaps and how to avoid them, graphic designers commonly use photo editing software to manipulate the pictures we see in print and online advertisements and other marketing materials. Although most photo editing is done in order to enhance an image to make it more aesthetically pleasing, some photo editing is deemed unethical. For instance, tabloids are commonly filled with manipulated photos in order to make a person believe something that isn’t true, and as we showed in our previous blog, they do not always pay attention to detail.
Although most marketing professionals can agree that releasing materials with glaring mistakes like a missing arm or foot is bad PR, some retouched photos are done in such a way that they appear real—so real that people begin trying to look like what they see. Sadly, photos of blemish-free, toned bodies greatly affect teenagers. However, Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old from Maine, has made it her mission to get magazine publishers to open up about photo retouching.

A few months ago, Bluhm wrote a petition that went viral. Her demand was for Seventeen to include one untouched photo spread per month. The petition received 84,000 signatures. Bluhm fears that young women have lost the true meaning of beauty. They see images of perfect models and compare themselves even though the photos have been retouched, which can lead to low self-esteem.

On July 3rd, Seventeen magazine took the petition a step further, announcing a new policy, called the Body Peace Treaty, to be signed by each employee stating they would never change models’ bodies or faces and only use healthy models. Seventeen also plans to explain what goes on behind the scenes at their photo shoots. Seventeen isn’t the only publication feeling the pressure to limit Photoshop® use in advertisements and photo spreads as the American Medical Association and the National Eating Disorders Association agree that retouched images can lead to body image issues. Bluhm is ecstatic by this response, but she isn’t ready to stop there. She’s teamed up with two other young girls, Carina Cruz and Emma Stydahar, to continue her efforts.

While it’s easy to use photo editing software to enhance photography, there’s a fine line between what’s right and wrong. As we stated in our other Photoshop® blog, proofreading work, including flyers and ads, is extremely important to your company’s reputation or brand. When you are proofreading, take a moment to think about what you are seeing in the ad. If it’s deceiving or could make a person believe something that isn’t true, you may want to rethink the images or add a note about the changes that were made. Consumers respect businesses that are more transparent.

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