Scenarios USA By Scenarios USA, July 11, 2012

By Gracie Miller     14-year-old Julia Bluhm got tired of seeing photoshopped images of teens in the magazines she was reading. So she decided to do something about it – she started her own petition for unaltered photos and soon had over 85,000 signatures. Soon a whole campaign called Keep It Real was formed to make women’s magazines keep at least one un-photoshopped image of a model per month. Just one. That is to say, the norm is that every photo in every women’s magazine has been dramatically altered to create an impossible standard of “beauty.”

To see how this works for yourself (or for your students), check out this fun interactive photoshop pic.

As educators, we hear a lot of comments from youth about their appearance. “I need to lose weight,” or “Why is she wearing that? She looks so fat.” While some of us chalk it up to adolescent insecurity, it goes much deeper than this. The Keep It Real Campaign acknowledges that these feelings of low self-worth come from somewhere. Images of unattainable beauty surround us – on television, in magazines, in video games. Real women – adults, role models- get plastic surgery to appear more ‘perfect.’  When you think about it, completely changing your appearance as a woman in America is the norm.

Do you paint your face before you leave the house with some form of make up? Dye your hair to cover the grey? Chemically straighten or curl it? Wear ‘shaping’ undergarments or use fake tanning lotion? It’s not a crime to want to look good- but who are we allowing to set our example of what beauty is? What are we all buying into? As consumers, mothers, teachers, and role models these are the examples we set for young girls. Julia Bluhm believes we have the power to set a healthy example, one with a very basic message: that we’re good enough the way we are.


Over the last 3 days of June, the Keep It Real Campaign asked real women and girls to tweet, blog and photograph real beauty.Join the campaign now! Contact information for the Editors in Chief at the largest women’s magazines is inside the awesome Keep It Real Toolkit:

And a lot of folks are just having fun with Instagram, taking pictures of what real beauty means to them, and uploading those pics to the Keep It Real Facebook page:

It can be hard to grasp the power we have as consumers to affect the products that are being sold to us. But people do this all the time- when enough people suggest a change to a product it is in the product’s best interest to change to suit the buyers. Youth especially understand that they buy what they want, not what someone else wants for them.

It’s not often that a young person gets to feel like the boss. But they are in charge of what they buy every day, no matter how small. With each $4 sale of any teen magazine, thousands of youth keep that magazine in business. They are the boss. So why don’t we tell the magazines what we think of their product? What would you rather see?


Since Gracie wrote her post, Keep it Real successfully convinced Seventeen magazine to pledge to Keep it Real. Next stop? Teen Vogue! On July 11th, here’s what you can do to tell Teen Vogue to Keep it Real.

Why We Can't 'Just Say No' to Bullying
Ileana Jimenez on Teaching Writing and Technology in the Classroom