For a few years now, Seventeen magazine has reserved a section of their magazine and web site for their Body Peace Project, which features Body Peace role models, a Body Peace Panel that provides advice for readers, a blog, and other body-positive features. The basic mission of the “Body Peace Project” is to dispel the negative body image so overwhelmingly common in teenage girls as well as promote healthy self-esteem. In fact, in the Body Peace Treaty that girls are encouraged to sign, Seventeen advises readers to “know that I am already beautiful the way I am” and to “not let my size define me.”
Nice one, Seventeen. Can you please explain to me, then, why the rest of your magazine is covered with airbrushed models, headlines that scream ways to get my “best body ever” or make my body “bikini-ready,” and tips to use clothing to make myself look taller and leaner?
Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely believe in body peace. I mean, honestly, that’s one of the most pertinent issues in society today: girls need to learn to make peace with and love their bodies, and I’ll at least commend Seventeen for even featuring a section like this. It’s more than can be said for Teen Vogue or other teen magazines. But really, Seventeen, if you’re going to talk the talk, then please walk the walk.
Just having a page or two dedicated to body peace is not enough if these messages are countered, with a simple flip of a page, with articles on how to exercise my way to flat abs or how to dress myself in clothes that promise to make my waist appear smaller. Seventeen can’t actually support girls of all shapes and sizes with this campaign while simultaneously endorsing poor self-image through its advertising (I’m sick of the same malnourished models frequenting the magazine’s pages) and articles focused on “helping” girls contour their bodies to match an unachievable ideal—that’s the sad truth.
Actions speak louder than words, and until Seventeen actually shows their readers that they support body peace—by featuring more than just thin girls (with not just boobs, but a butt and thighs, too) in the ads they choose to promote and eliminating subtle but powerful messages in their articles that attack our bodies—then they aren’t upholding their end of the Body Peace goal.
And that goal is this: that no matter what weight or height we are, and no matter what skin or hair color we possess, we will learn to love our bodies unabashedly and without shame.
For those that the “Body Peace Project” has helped, that’s no small feat, and congratulations. I still, however, believe that Seventeen’s body peace initiative is not upheld by the rest of the magazine. Seventeen will have to promote positive body image with sincerity before I will be able to fully appreciate their Body Peace Project.
If you would like to contact Seventeen magazine with comments or constructive criticism about the “Body Peace Project,” you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.