‘Teen Vogue’ Editor Responds to Body Image Petition

Magazine defends practices

Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley was out of town last week when two teen activists started a petition asking the magazine to follow in rival Seventeen’s footsteps and run photos of “real girls.” Now, the magazine has issued a statement defending its editorial practices.

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 non-models and readers every year and do not retouch them to alter their body size,” according to a statement that Erin Kaplan, the magazine’s PR rep, provided to Adweek. “Teen Vogue pledges to continue this practice.”

Carina Cruz and Emma Stydahar started their Change.org petition directed at the Condé Nast title after 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, a fellow activist with Spark, an organization aimed at changing media portrayals of girls, launched a campaign asking Seventeen not alter models’ faces or bodies. The girls explained their position thusly: “It’s time for an end to the digitally enhanced, unrealistic “beauty” we see in the pages of magazines. We are demanding that teen magazines stop altering natural bodies and faces so that real girls can be the new standard of beauty.” 

After Bluhm collected almost 85,000 signatures and staged a protest outside Seventeen’s offices at the Hearst Tower, Seventeen editor in chief Ann Shoket responded with a “Body Peace Treaty” promising to feature real girls and healthy models in the magazine and be transparent about what happens at its photo shoots. 

Astley’s response stops short of going that far, however. A Change.org rep said Spark was seeking clarification from Teen Vogue and see if the magazine will pledge to show a diverse range of beauty in its pages. The girls plan to deliver their signatures to Teen Vogue's offices on Wednesday. 

Teen Vogue positions itself as fashion-oriented and aspirational, so it will be interesting to see if readers hold it to the same standard as the middle-market Seventeen. So far, it seems they do; more than 21,000 people have signed the Teen Vogue petition in a few days. We'll see if Cruz and Stydahar try to ratchet up the pressure and stage a protest like the one mounted outside Seventeen's offices, which seemed to work pretty well for Bluhm.