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Teen girls campaign against Vogue: Beyond skin deep

Published: Friday, July 20 2012 11:37 a.m. MDT

Britney Franco, 13, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, left, poses with Hannah Stydahar, 14, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. during a protest Wednesday, July 11, 2012, near the offices of Teen Vogue in the Times Square section of New York. Days after a campaign led by a 14-year-old girl secured a promise from Seventeen magazine not to alter body shapes in photographs, more teens protested against Teen Vogue on Wednesday.

Leanne Italie, Associated Press

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Half a dozen girls could be seen high-fiving each other as they cat-walked in protest at the base of Vogue magazine's headquarters in New York City's Times Square, according to the NWI Times, a newspaper based in Northwest Indiana.

"Days after a campaign led by a 14-year-old girl secured a promise from Seventeen magazine not to alter body shapes in photographs, more teens protested against Teen Vogue on Wednesday with 'Keep It Real' signs and a makeshift red carpet," the author wrote.

In just over a week, the teens collected more than 28,000 signatures asking Teen Vogue magazine to join Seventeen in declaring an end to digitally altering images.

"I remember looking through these magazines and thinking, 'Oh I wish I had her legs. I wish I had her waist,'" said 17-year-old Emma Stydahar of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who subscribed to Teen Vogue in middle school. "It was, like, this is what beautiful is and this is what I look like." Stydahar became one of the protest organizers to combat such perceptions.

“Teen girl-targeting magazines bombard young women with images that have been distorted and digitally altered with programs including Photoshop,” reads the petition at change.org. “These Photoshopped images are extremely dangerous to girls like us who read them, because they keep telling us: You are not skinny enough, pretty enough or perfect enough. Well, neither are the girls in the pictures!”

Teen Vogue responded with their standards for photo alteration, as Ad Week reported: Teen Vogue makes a conscious and continuous effort to promote a positive body image among our readers. We feature healthy models on the pages of our magazine and shoot dozens of nonmodels and readers every year and do not retouch them to alter their body size."

While the fight is worthy, the teen girls are up against the powerful role that beauty has played over the course of history in successful marketing, Times Colonist reported from Ontario, Canada.

"While the ethics of digital retouching continues to be fodder for debate, and rightfully so, we should focus on encouraging young women to turn away from comparing themselves to photos from beauty magazines — and really, from those magazines in general," according to the article.

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News.

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