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Is Aerie Real the Real Deal? A Collegiette’s Rant

Since the 1950s lingerie models have become taller, skinnier, with bigger busts, and they have defined impossible standards for women. Aerie, along with other companies like Dove, is demanding more “real” women in an attempt to "empower" women of all shapes and sizes. Aerie, American Eagle Outfitters’ spin-off for lingerie, has made a bold statement this spring by stating “the real you is sexy.” Their new ad campaign Aerie Real will feature photos of real women, and the photos won’t be “retouched.”

Pretty much everyone is excited to see changes like these in the fashion industry and agree that it is a step in the right direction for healthy body standards, but how real are these ladies?Some women (like myself) are not too impressed and see it as a marketing scheme just in time for the Valentine’s Day.

I wanted to research the subject to see just how down to earth the company has come. I sent an inquiry about being a model, since, you know, these are normal everyday girls. This is what I was told:

“…Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding modeling. We appreciate your interest in becoming a model for American Eagle Outfitters. All of the models you see in AEO campaigns are winners of our Live Your Life Contest. Be sure to check live.ae.com for entry rules and future deadlines. We wish you the best of luck in our next contest…”

That seems fair. I have to enter a photo to see how I compare to other girls. It also sounds a little bit like a model casting call. Wouldn’t it be a little more real if it were the luck of the draw? The people in this Live Your Life ad look like models off duty.

I looked at the Aerie section specifically, and it did not get much better. There new bra guide allows you to choose your bra size and see a girl in that size. Yes, the girls in the Aerie Real campaign have a few tattoos and maybe little fat dimples on their backs. But they all seemed to be hour glasses or stick thin, with flat stomachs or almost washboard abs. When I chose my size, it did not show me a girl in a 38B, but maybe a girl in a 30B. Where is the acne, the cellulite, and the big girls with small breasts? Is that too real for this “real” campaign?  

Yes, Aerie, this was a progressive move on your part, but we want more. I am glad to see thighs that touch and skin that is not lustering, but don’t try to fool us with a biased marketing version of real. Take off the bronzer and cute fat rolls, because we know what real looks like really.

Check out more about the real campaign here, and tell HC what you think about it! You absolutely love it or down right hate it?

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Lindy Olive is known for being a foodie health-nut hybrid, who thinks the best things in life happen in the kitchen. She is a senior at Auburn University, majoring in Nutrition & Wellness and minoring in Sustainability. She wrote for Her Campus Auburn for three years before taking on a role as Campus Corespondent. If you ever need her, you can find her in front of a computer, in a garden, or at the gym. Lindy likes to dream big, and right now, that dream consists of owning a garden-bakery while writing agriculture public policy or working for a test kitchen. When she isn't thinking about food, which is apparently rare, she is hiking with her boyfriend and dog, on a feminist rant, or having deep conversations with her best friends Bailey and Melissa.
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