Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Body Image Limited

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Body Image Limited

Article excerpt

A "vagenda" is a woman with an agenda or, specifically, a vagina with an agenda. Today's media are full of them. Unfortunately, more often than not, these vagendas are not your friend, particularly in the context of women's fashion and lifestyle magazines. Vogue has a vagenda; Cosmo has a vagenda; even the US teen mag Seventeen has a vagenda--and the atmosphere there is not friendly.

On 2 May, there was a meeting of two very different worlds: those of the Seventeen editor-in-chief (and America's Next Top Model judge), Ann Shoket, and a 14-year-old body image campaigner, Julia Bluhm. What was Julia's beef with Seventeen? It was that a publication targeted at teenage girls--who, by their very nature, are going through all the insecurities that come with puberty--is touting an airbrushed version of physically impossible CC perfection". Her petition against digitally enhanced images garnered an encouraging 30,000 signatures. The same week, Vogue editors across the world agreed not to hire models with an unhealthy BMI (body mass index). That's progress, right?


Pride and prejudice

Unfortunately, Seventeen's response was the equivaleht of a nursery school teacher patting a problem child on the head.

"We're proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue--it's exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers," the magazine simpered. "They [Shoket and Bluhm] had a great discussion and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves and that's how we present them. …

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