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Altered Bodies, Altered Minds: We want Teen Vogue to Keep it Real

by Britney Franco

Yesterday, we SPARK girls had a mock fashion show outside of the Condé Nast building in Times Square, New York, and publicly voiced our opinion on how Teen Vogue alters the bodies of the girls who appear in their publication. We made sure that people saw how girls were affected by this; after all, 75% of girls feel depressed after only a few minutes of reading a fashion magazine. That isn’t exactly a statistic that a magazine can take pride in, and we wanted Teen Vogue to realize that and think about the well-being of their readership.

However, we were disappointed in the results of the meeting set up with the editorial staff. The SPARK representatives–petition starters Carina and Emma alongside our Executive Director Dana Edell–met the staff the magazine for less than five minutes, and the staff made no mention of the campaign or the magazine’s photoshoot process. Instead, they gave Emma and Carina copies of Teen Vogue and told them to use it to “learn about the magazine,” as though we didn’t already know about it–I’m a Teen Vogue subscriber!

This was obviously disappointing to us, but we will still continue on our mission to get Teen Vogue to stop altering the appearances of the girls in their magazine. Teen Vogue has an incredibly large readership that supports them immensely, and now it’s time for the magazine to do the same for their readership. Teen Vogue has the power to change how girls feel about their bodies when they read their magazine, and they can lead other publications to do the same. People (including you, reader!) can continue to support our cause to help teen girls everywhere by signing our petition to have Teen Vogue make a commitment in the pages of their magazine to never altering models’ bodies or faces. We want people to stand up for teen girls and help us get Teen Vogue to do the right thing; they affect the lives of their readership in so many ways, and we want them to use this ability in a good way. They have the choice to be the heroes in this story; help them make that decision.

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17 Responses to “Altered Bodies, Altered Minds: We want Teen Vogue to Keep it Real”

  1. I just have to say you are awesome and I support what you are doing!

  2. Mia says:

    Thank you for doing this – this is great! Shame you didn’t have a better response but everything has to start somewhere. I have blogged about your efforts to spread the word!

  3. Barbara Alfond says:

    To the HR and PR departments of Teen Vogue: it seems as though your sensitivity training and exhortations about gracious behavior went right over the heads of those employees who met with the committed and talented members of SPARK. They’d better brush up, or these young women will have their jobs some day.

  4. Jackie Pena says:

    This is a great start. Thank you so much for doing this. May I suggest that we lead a boycott as well? Girls and women make almost 80% of purchasing decisions and we continue to fund organizations that hurt us. I think it is time to use our power to motivate them to change to represent and treat us better. I for one will not subscribe to Teen Vogue and let them know why. Thank you.

    • Mary Kate O Flanagan says:

      Well said, Jackie. SPARK women should be using their considerable purchasing power to boycott these magazines until they do better. Just 2 or 3 months of noticeably decreased circulation would hit advertising revenue big time. Cancel that subscription, for Heaven’s sake. Subscribers or buyers of grown-up Vogue can do the same and write to Conde Nast telling them why they won’t be buying their titles until things change.

  5. Rita Kirkup says:

    Hi Britney,

    I am so impressed by all that you’ve done. I am the executive director of Girls Inc. of Greater Houston and we would love to feature you at our annual luncheon in May. Contact me please at

    Thank you!

  6. Carol Thomas says:

    Thank you for all the hard work and attention you’ve brought to how young women are portrayed in magazines. What you did is valued whether Teen Vogue responded appropriately or not. This is a huge problem in how girls and women are perceived in our culture. Keep up the good work!!! You are recognized and appreciated!

  7. […] Two teen girls organized a mock fashion show on New York City’s Time Square to protest the airbrushing of models by Teen Vogue magazine. Emma Stydahar, 17, and Carina Cruz, 16, held the mock fashion show earlier this week and delivered a petition requesting Teen Vogue stop the digital altering of models to Editor in Chief Amy Astley. The petition circulated by the pair of teen girls boasted 28,000 signatures, The Blaze reports. The teen mock fashion show organizers stated that Cruz did not discuss ending the Photoshopping practices of teen models and spent just five minutes with them, gave them copies of Teen Vogue and instructed them to “learn about the magazine,” Spark reports. […]

  8. Steve Baker says:

    I just want to give my support, I totally agree with what you are doing and it’s good to see someone taking a well-needed stand on this issue. I would add that the photoshopping of women can have a detrimental effect on males, who can be seduced by images of unattainable, fake-perfect ‘beauty’, and belive that these images represent reality, and become blind to the natural beauty of the real women around them in their daily lives. If all types, shapes and sizes were represented equally and honestly in the media, we might stop chasing hollywood fantasies, and instead appreciate each other more and feel better about ourselves.

  9. This is great! I totally agree! Where I live, people thought I was a boy because I had my short hair in a ponytail, and I was wearing sports pants with (no pink). Its really awesome that you guys are doing this! What an inspiration!

  10. Amanda says:

    I will now buy seventeen instead of vogue…. screw vogue! Real beauty (where beauty = health)!!!

  11. Jeanne Sullivan says:

    I commend you ladies….you are amazing. Petitions won’t make them change BUT getting their subscribers to cancel their subscriptions and boycott the magazine will.

  12. Mary Kate O Flanagan says:

    It takes a different kind of effort and imagination to make real women and girls look as lovely as photo-shopped versions but it can be done. Look at the work of Gok Wan. But the real question is why women and girls are buying magazines that make them feel depressed. Don’t swap Vogue for Seventeen, quit “beauty” magazines altogether. Give the money you would have spent every month to an organisation you support (like SPARK) and go for a long walk with the time you save. You’ll look and feel better, guaranteed.

  13. Dear SPARK girls,

    Nice work! I am so impressed that you are making your voice be heard. This issue is such an important one … keep it up!

    As a father of a two-year girl, i am incredibly grateful that you are helping future generations of young girls to live in society where they can be proud of their bodies and confident in themselves for who they are – not what they look like.

    I would love to feature you as either guest authors or as a guest interview in our monthly newsletter.


    Eric Plantenberg
    President, Freedom Personal Development

  14. […] Altered Bodies, Altered Minds: We want Teen Vogue to Keep it Real …Altered Bodies, Altered Minds: We want Teen Vogue to Keep it Real. Posted by SPARKsummit on July 12th, 2012. by Britney Franco. Yesterday, we SPARK girls … […]

  15. […] to Spark Summit, the girls behind the Teen Vogue petition held a mock fashion show outside of the Condé Nast […]

  16. Angela Kay says:

    why can’t these types of magazines just show how women really look instead of trying to use software to airbrush all of the little imperfections away.

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