Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Opinion

Seventeen magazine's vow to celebrate all body types: It's about time.

Seventeen magazine vows to never change the shape of girls' faces or bodies in photos. If we don’t reconfigure the way girls see themselves on TV, in movies, and in magazines, even smart teens will believe the media lie that their worth is in fastidious attention to the superficial.

By Chelsea Carmona / July 6, 2012

Actress Nina Dobrev, from 'Vampire Diaries,' poses at a Seventeen magazine event in New York May 10. Nina and her mother are searching for three mother-daughter duos, who exemplify what it means to be good role models. Meanwhile teenager Julia Bluhm has successfully petitioned Seventeen to offer one unaltered photo spread per month. Writes op-ed contributor Chelsea Carmona, 'Various youths are finding their own way to combat the media canard that a woman can only be attractive and happy if she is skinny.'

Marion Curtis/Starpix/AP

Enlarge

Los Angeles

In the August issue of Seventeen magazine, editor-in-chief Ann Shoket responds to a fierce campaign to “keep it real” by vowing to keep photo shoots transparent, celebrate all body types, and never change the shapes of girls’ bodies or faces. And it’s about time.

Skip to next paragraph

Many teen girls are caught in the body-image trap, but it snares people of all ages. Last month, talk-show host Anderson Cooper kicked off his guest – the British mother Sarah Burge – because he could no longer hear her defend the decision to give her eight-year-old daughter vouchers for breast implants and liposuction, redeemable when she turns 18. Ms. Burge has reportedly spent more than $500,000 in plastic surgeries to become “the human Barbie,” as she calls herself.

The following week, news broke that the US Senate Federal Credit Union sent out a mailing with a photo of a smiling tanned blonde featuring large fake breasts in a low-cut, tight shirt. The mailing urged credit union members to consider borrowing cash for any upcoming “big plans.”

The over-tanned human Barbie could be any Botox addict I see at the beach every summer in California’s Orange County. In fact, the city where I was raised, Irvine, Calif., is so notoriously appearance-conscious it ranks as the No. 1 city in America in household spending on high-end fashion.

Last year, I returned to my hometown to lead several discussions on the documentary film “Miss Representation.” The film, written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, attempts to refute the media portrayal that “a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality,” as the film’s website describes it.

I had high hopes of creating radical change around issues of female empowerment and body image among Irvine’s youth. But I found resistance instead.

After I asked a question about the difference between growing up male and female, one young woman insisted that this difference – of girls being pressured to dress or act in a certain way – “just doesn’t exist anymore. There is no pressure in high school.”

I was speechless. She attends my alma mater, and when I went there in the early 2000s, girls obsessed about weight – and teeth whitening, shopping, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and hair salons. With plastic surgery, it’s getting worse. And all over Orange County, mothers sign waivers for their underage daughters to tan.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!