Recently, various social media sites have been abuzz with news about a fresh ad campaign from a popular line of teen lingerie called Aerie, a sub-brand of American Eagle Outfitters. Under the tagline “the real you is sexy,”, Aerie has pledged to feature models in their ads who have not been digitally retouched in any way. Most of these girls featured are not the tiny size 2 that has become typical in such ads; they have real chests, hips, and thighs! Curves and cellulite are embraced, and some models even have tattoos. What’s more, various ethnicities are represented.
Mainly, this new promotion technique aimed to serve as an aid for shoppers visiting the Aerie website. Most other lingerie websites allow girls to search for bras by size, but a girl searching for a 36DD or a 32A will not see an accurate depiction of what her bra will look like, instead seeing a picture of a gorgeous supermodel with the “ideal cup size.” Because of this, girls who are considered too small or too large will never know how a bra will look on them specifically when shopping online, and thus may become ashamed of their bodies. On Aerie’s website, however, a girl who is a 36DD will see a picture of a girl who is a 36DD, while a girl who is a 32A will see a picture of a girl who is a 32A, making it much easier for girls to see exactly which bras fit their unique body types, allowing them to feel better about themselves when they actually buy and wear them.
But Aerie executives did not just create this campaign to reap more online sales. The promotion also aims to raise girls’ self-confidence tremendously. Women, especially teenaged girls, are constantly berated about their appearances, being told indirectly by clothing companies that they can only look beautiful if they strive to appear like the heavily-retouched supermodels they see in advertisements. The Aerie girls contradict this common idea: they look so incredibly happy and self-assured in their photos, sending the message to girls around the world that they do not have to be a size 2 to feel confident and beautiful. The models are not labeled “plus-sized” (a.k.a “irregular”, by fashion standards), and therefore may also inspire girls who have been told that they are too fat or too busty to model to buck the stereotypes.
This new development, however, is definitely not without criticisms. Most notably, some condemn the Aerie executives for still choosing models that are overall too beautiful. These girls don’t need Photoshop or retouching because they are already as close to flawless as one can be. Also, while Aerie does pride itself on featuring “curvy” girls, the models are still relatively thin by anyone’s standards.
There is no denying that the fashion and modeling industries have setbacks. But these setbacks will never disappear overnight, and Aerie should not be condemned for not fixing every little problem at once amidst the decades-long battle between women’s self-esteem and the fashion industry. This company’s new campaign is definitely a major leap in the right direction.
Picture Sources: Eoline.com; Dailynewsdig.com; Adweek.com