At my age, finding a job you truly love can be a rarity. I hopped between jobs through high school and never found somewhere where I felt I really belonged. Shortly after finishing up my sophomore year of college I began working as a brand ambassador at Aerie. It has been six months, and I love my job even more than the day I started. Working for a company that promotes body positivity and self love has impacted the way I see myself. I believe that Aerie has made me a better person, and I am so thankful for the people I get to interact with every day.
Aerie is more than just a store to me. It’s a company that directly supports a cause I have been personally impacted by. I remember, as a young teenager, watching Aerie pioneer a body positive movement in which all of their advertising and marketing became unretouched. This was a bold move for a popular retail brand to make, considering retail had for so long been dominated by society’s idealistic, harmful portrayal of women.
The Aerie Real campaign has grown in strength and size through the years. In 2014 Aerie partnered with NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association. Each year Aerie sponsors dozens of NEDA walks, nationally, where thousands of participants have the chance to support people who have been affected by eating disorders. These events are an enormous source of hope for people struggling, as well as the people who support them. Aerie holds numerous events and campaigns directed towards building people up. It is inspiring to say the least.
I’m so proud to work for Aerie, knowing all of the work that the company does to help people love their bodies and themselves. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I know how overwhelming it can be to go shopping and try on new clothes. I know the feeling of seeing something I love, trying it on, and hating what it looks like on my body. It’s a lonely and isolating feeling. Having someone there to support you can make a huge difference.
When I’m working in the fitting room, I keep that feeling in mind. Becoming a part of the Aerie team has given me the chance to directly impact the experience people have while shopping. I know the emotions that can come up in the fitting room, and I try to be there to lift others up during their time in the store. Sometimes that means a quick, “you rock that top!”, and other times it’s just a reassuring smile. We’ve been conditioned to dislike our bodies and the way we look. It takes a lot of work and rethinking to start learning to love yourself and your appearance. I like to think that Aerie is changing the way we, as young women, see ourselves. As brand ambassadors we have the chance to spread Aerie’s body positive message to everyone who walks into our stores.
Ask anyone who works retail, and you’ll find it is not an easy field to work in. The days are long, customers can be hard, and maintaining a constant positive energy can be draining. Being surrounded by a supportive and uplifting team makes all the difference. Aerie has given me a new circle of friends and people I can count on. My coworkers have quickly become some of my best friends. They are the people who I text while I’m away at school and need something to smile about, and the people I look forward to seeing when I come home. I work under a group of managers who I can call my mentors. The managers in my store have supported me and believed in me since day one. I look up to them so much.
I know that Aerie is a special company, but I believe that my store, in particular, is a really remarkable one. There have been weeks where I’ve spent more hours at the store than with my own family. It is exhausting, but being surrounded by genuinely good people makes it so worth it.
Adapting to a new work environment is a lot at first, but with time it is so rewarding. I’ve worked at Aerie for six months, and the store feels like home to me. Becoming a brand ambassador at Aerie has been one of the most rewarding, exciting, and challenging things I’ve done. My job makes me feel like I have a purpose, and that I am capable. I hope I have helped at least one person feel more confident about themselves.
No matter where I go, I’m so proud to represent a company that means so much to me.
Thank you for everything, Aerie.