Sometimes, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy at the sheer amount that 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson has already accomplished (if you’ve been living under a rock, check out her personal style blog and online magazine). And if her impeccable sense of style and engaging writing style weren’t enough, I tend to nod along with her feminist musings…on my laptop…in public spaces. But I digress.
“I don’t know…that Photoshop makes a huge difference with the kind of models they use, or that there aren’t other parts of the magazine that contribute to the same issue,” the style maven rookie explained to Racked, a prominent fashion blog. “It took me a little bit once middle school started to realize that if I didn’t read Seventeen, I didn’t feel obligated to watch what I eat. Language is powerful, along with photos.”
Though I’m a huge advocate for honesty in photos (as in, don’t slice your models’ thighs off), publishing is a business. So, don’t expect to see dark circles under cover girls’ eyes anytime soon.
The real problem with Photoshop arises when it’s used improperly –and unfortunately, it’s used this way quite often. How does it make you feel when you click on a promotional image of an obviously white-washed Beyoncé? Or a facially-distorted Demi Moore? Or Adele with Princess Jasmine’s barely-there stomach?
In Bossypants, funny lady Tina Fey penned a few short ‘n sweet sentences about her cover shoot with BUST.
“Feminists do the best Photoshop…They leave in your disgusting knuckles, but they may take out some armpit stubble,” she wrote. “Not because they’re denying its existence, but because they understand that it’s okay to make a photo look as if you were caught on your best day in the best light.”
FYI: She looked amazing on that cover.
Tavi’s astute point is that the misuse of Photoshop is one part of a huge and profitable industry that is largely focused on promoting a so-called “ideal” young woman –at the expense of young girls. You usually don’t have to look further than the supermarket magazine rack for images of starving models and headlines seemingly designed to make women feel bad about their bodies and embarrassed by its functions.
According to Planned Parenthood, magazines’ go-to models can weigh an average of 23 percent less than the women flipping through the pages of these glossies.
“I don’t know that they changed anything,” Gevinson said of Seventeen. “They said in their ‘treaty’ that they vow to never change girls’ body or face shapes, but then say, ‘(Never have, never will.)’ To me, that sounds like they just published a self-serving statement that made them look good, but they’re not taking into account the intentions and concerns that were really behind the petition.”
Clearly, we have a long way to go before the industry thinks twice about churning out content that promotes negative body image. But at least a prominent young voice within that industry is unafraid to take a stand. Props to you, Tavi G!
Images via The Style Rookie and BettyConfidential.