By LEANNE ITALIE, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Days after a campaign led by a 14-year-old girl secured a promise from Seventeen magazine not to alter body shapes in photographs, more teens protested against Teen Vogue this week with "Keep it Real" signs and a makeshift red carpet.
About half a dozen girls high-fived each other as they catwalked near the magazine's office in Times Square. They've collected more than 28,000 signatures in just over a week asking Teen Vogue to follow Seventeen's lead in declaring an end to digitally manipulating images.
The girls, affiliated with the protest group SPARK Movement, said Teen Vogue and other magazines read by vulnerable young readers present an unrealistic notion of beauty, threatening their self-esteem and leading to depression and eating disorders.
One of the protest organizers, 17-year-old Emma Stydahar of suburban Croton-on-Hudson, was a Teen Vogue subscriber in middle school.
"I remember looking through these magazines and thinking, 'Oh I wish I had her legs. I wish I had her waist.' It was, like, this is what beautiful is and this is what I look like," she said.
Teen Vogue said in a statement it makes a "conscious and continuous effort to promote a positive body image among our readers." Like Seventeen's top editor, Ann Shoket, Teen Vogue agreed to a private meeting with the girls.
"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. Teen Vogue pledges to continue this practice," the statement said.
Emma and her co-organizer of the petition drive, 16-year-old Carina Cruz, want the magazine to put that in writing on its pages for all readers to see as Shoket did in Seventeen.
Dana Edell, executive director of SPARK, said Teen Vogue presents hard-core fashion that emulates the look of its adult counterparts, compared to Seventeen's overall focus on the teen lifestyle.
By Edell's count, Teen Vogue's online homepage one day last week featured 15 models, all "very, very thin and 13 who were white."
"These images don't look like most girls," she said. "They present an alien, skinny, scrawny, blond, skeletal beauty."
Protester Britney Franco, 13, of Brooklyn is a Teen Vogue subscriber. She hopes to be a photographer and fashion editor one day.
"I love the magazine," she said. "That's why I want them to change."