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Social media: Kids leverage online networks for civic engagement

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Leanne Italie/AP

(Read caption) Julia Bluhm of Waterville, Maine, holds petitions to Seventeen magazine as she leads a protest outside Hearst Corp. headquarters in New York on May 2. Bluhm used to gather signatures and petition the magazine to be more transparent about how they retouch photos of models.

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I hope parents and educators have seen these two clear signs of how kids are using social media to “be the change.”

There’s 14-year-old Julia Bluhm from Maine who noticed that friends in ballet class were always criticizing their bodies and spearheaded a protest in front of Seventeen magazine’s New York headquarters. She got 80,000-plus people around the world to sign her online petition at to get magazines to stop digitally altering models so that they appeared in photos “impossibly thin with perfect skin,” an MSNBC blog reports.

“Girls want to be accepted, appreciated, and liked. And when they don’t fit the criteria, some girls try to ‘fix’ themselves. This can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem,” Julia wrote at

Although the magazine said it had “never been guilty of the extreme airbrushing that takes place in some other fashion magazines and advertising spreads,” it will publish a “Body Peace Treaty” in the August issue pledging, among other things to “‘always feature real girls and models who are healthy’ and ‘be totally up-front’ by posting pics from their photo shoots on their Tumblr,” MSNBC added.


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