Are Fashion Magazines More Dangerous Than Drugs?


Women have been railing against the unrealistic images in fashion magazines for decades, worrying, especially, about how these unattainable ideals might affect impressionable young girls. But thanks to the power of technology and one very motivated teenage girl,  the issue may be getting more attention than ever. Julia Thuhr’s petition was inspired by video interviews with her fellow 14 year olds in the school cafeteria. How do these magazines make you feel? When the answers were reliably negative, Julia took to the internets. Two weeks and nearly 50,000 signatures later, she’s poised to make the industry raise a well-groomed eyebrow. Whether or not any actual change will occur from her petition remains to be seen. But if raising awareness was part of her agenda, Julia is already a success.

Last night on ABC’s Nightline, Julia made her case, backed up by likeminded teens and experts. One, who focuses on eating disorders, said she believes looking at these magazines is more dangerous to teenage girls than smoking pot.


Does this seem like a radical assertion to you? I’m not so sure. If you isolated the two, which would be responsible for more independent negative effect? It might be apples and oranges, but it definitely calls attention to the potential for damage.

Seventeen met with Julia for an hour during her visit to New York. After receiving her petition (and presumably, accompanying pitch), they issued the following statement:

[Seventeen] celebrates girls for being their authentic selves and that’s how we present them. There’s no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity.”

Uh, ok. I’m not getting that from the pages of Seventeen, are you? But on some level, it’s not even the editorial that’s in question here, it’s the reshaping of bodies through Photoshop which happens mostly in the advertising. Julia’s asking the magazines to provide one un-altered spread a month to put the tweaked models into perspective. The experts in the video want more than that: legislation of model’s ages and weights, and/or mandatory labeling of digitally altered images.

Do you think Photoshopped images should come with a “This is Not Real” disclaimer?  Do you think there is chance in heck of Julia’s petition changing the status quo? Do you agree that these images can be more damaging than smoking pot?

See the Nightline episode here.