The Boston Globe’s feature story today, “Embracing the imperfections: Teens confront sexualization of girls in media”  highlights the critical role girls are playing in a new girl-powered revolution.  Joseph Kahn provided thoughtful coverage on SPARKTeam member Julia Bluhm’s petition to Seventeen magazine asking them to commit to just one non-Photoshopped spread in their magazine each month.

In Seventeen’s August issue, Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, finally responded to Julia’s petition and the almost 86,000 signatures it has garnered by publishing an eight point “Body Peace Treaty.”  The treaty pledged to “always feature real girls and models who are healthy” and to “be totally up-front about what goes into our photo shoots.”  Although Seventeen doesn’t promise to publish one non-Photoshopped spread per month as requested in the petition, we believe that the activism of Julia, Izzy Labbe, and the entire SPARK team has brought the issue of the negative effects of the hyper-sexualization of girls and women to the public’s attention.

“It’s not enough these days to tell girls these images are Photoshopped. We need to empower them to do something about it,” said Megan Williams, a SPARK advisor and President of Hardy Girls Healthy Women.  “Girls this age carry around this righteous anger and want to do something about injustices they see.”

The Boston Globe article discusses SPARK (“Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge”), and the work that they are doing to scaffold girls’ activism and bring more public awareness to the issues and problems surrounding the sexualization of girls and women in the media.  “With American teens consuming nearly 11 hours of media daily, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study, what they see and hear often leaves them confused and anxious about their bodies.  The numbers, from various studies, are startling: 32 percent of teenage girls admit to starving themselves to lose weight; nearly half say they wish to be model-thin; three out of four feel depressed or guilty after spending time with a fashion magazine; and 78 percent reach age 17 feeling unhappy with their body image.”

Julia and Izzy are both joining Hardy Girls’ Girls Advisory Board this year.  We are excited about the energy and input that they will provide to our staff and board as we work towards our vision that all girls and women experience equality, independence, and safety in their everyday lives.

Seventeen/Associated Press