WATERVILLE, Maine — This quaint New England town seems an unlikely garrison from which to wage digital-media warfare. But as Seventeen magazine editors have learned, youth activism can be ignited anywhere, given the right spark.
In April, Waterville eighth-grader Julia Bluhm, 14, journeyed to Manhattan to protest Seventeen’s practice of retouching photos, making girls and young women look sexier and less flawed. After an interview with CNN, she was invited to the magazine to discuss her objections and spent an hour doing just that. Bluhm and her teammates at SPARK — which stands for Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge — eventually collected more than 84,000 signatures on their anti-Photoshopping petition, distributed online through Change.org.