WATERVILLE — Three Waterville teens are heading to New York City today to be interviewed by Katie Couric about their efforts to change the way media portray girls and women.

Julia Bluhm and Izzy Labbe, both 14, and Maya Brown, 17, will be filmed Wednesday for a segment of Couric’s new “Katie” show, to premiere next month.

Couric is a former CBS News anchor and “Today” show host, as well as reporter for “60 Minutes” and other news programs.

Bluhm, Brown and Labbe have received nationwide attention this summer since Bluhm convinced Seventeen magazine to stop altering photographs of models to make them look thinner than they really are.

In April, she started a petition drive on change.org and had gathered about 86,000 signatures by Monday.

The petition sought to convince Seventeen to publish at least one spread a month that did not alter photos, but the result was Seventeen’s decision to stop changing the shapes of girls’ bodies and faces altogether.

Labbe said Bluhm got her involved in SPARK, a nationwide movement for girls and women ages 13-22, which advocates against the sexualization of women and girls.

She said SPARK is working on a petition to convince Teen Vogue also to stop altering photos of models.

“It’s been a little bit harder than it’s been with Seventeen,” Labbe said. That petition had almost 40,000 signatures Monday.

She said she, Bluhm and Brown hope to talk with Couric about the Teen Vogue effort and spread the word that people can help by signing the petition online.

She said girls and women look at altered photos of models in magazines and basically get the message that that’s what beauty is.

“The problem is the media’s standard of beauty isn’t reality because it’s Photoshopped,” Labbe said. “So girls and women are trying to live up to an impossible standard.

Couric’s daytime talkshow, “Katie,” will premiere Sept. 10 on ABC, but Labbe said they have not been told when their interview will be shown.

The three were interviewed by The Boston Globe, and the story appeared on the front page of the paper’s July 11 issue. Bluhm has been interviewed by CNN, and Labbe has been interviewed by Teen Voices magazine and Yahoo News.

Labbe said what she has learned from the process is that such an effort can really make a difference — and it doesn’t matter how old the organizers are.

Labbe, who will be a freshman at Waterville Senior High School, is the daughter of Joe and Rebecca Labbe; Bluhm, who attends Maine Central Institute, is daughter of Mary Beiter and Robert Bluhm; and Brown, a Waterville Senior High School senior, is daughter of Lyn Mikel Brown and Mark Tappan.

Lyn Mikel Brown initiated the SPARK movement and is a co-founder of the organization Hardy Girls Healthy Women, of which the three girls are members.

Labbe said Lyn Mikel Brown and other adults guided them in their petition effort by giving them the tools they needed to proceed.

“They kind of helped us, but we weren’t mouthpieces for them,” Labbe said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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