When you are walking through a mall, it is pretty evident that you will be seeing an American Eagle store. Perhaps you will see an Aerie store next to it or a standalone store near it. American Eagle saw the market to compete with PINK by Victoria’s Secret, but they are also changing the game for the fashion and intimates industry by creating Aerie.
Just log onto their website. There is such an array of beautiful women of all different body types, skin tones and even physical shapes. All of their photos are unedited, so you can see stretch marks, beauty marks, bacne, body hair and other things that are natural to the female body. They even have models with nontraditional bodies, whether they are in a wheelchair or have prosthetic legs or have an ostomy. They have models with Down Syndrome and are truly showing that beauty does not fit in a box. You walk into an Aerie store, and it mirrors the Aerie website. Their marketing photos are unedited just like the photos online, and the women look so happy and carefree in these photos that you can’t help but feel their confidence through the photos.
In this Business Insider article from March 2019, Mary Hanbury went shopping at Victoria’s Secret, Pink and Aerie in New York’s Soho’s shopping district. Just from taking a look at the photos is when you can see the stark difference between all three stores. In the photos that showcase the Aerie store, it is more comforting and peaceful with the off white and green color palette, which is less harsh than the black and pink that Victoria’s Secret has in their stores. The empowering messages throughout the Aerie store really uplift the mood and atmosphere in the store. Whereas Victoria’s Secret’s racy and sexual photos are placed on the top of displays. There is nothing wrong with these photos. Don’t get me wrong; women should uplift their sexiness. I think it is an amazing thing. But it can be damaging for customers who walk through the store and want to fit into a certain size while looking at those photos. It is especially damaging due to the previous controversies regarding Victoria’s Secret fashion shows in the past.
Growing up in a digital age as a young girl and woman, I saw what I needed to be. I was shown that from social media, TV ads, fashion shows, marketing from industries where their target market was young women and more. We are constantly told what is beautiful and what is not—what is ugly and what is not, what is acceptable and what is not, which body types are the epitome of being a woman. As a South Asian girl, I am also told that white is the only thing that can be beautiful. In school, I was called a ‘wannabe white girl’ because the way I dressed resembled the way my female classmates, who were white, dressed, but I never meant to dress like “that.” I just dressed trendy.
I started working for Aerie three years ago. I walked into the store prior to my interview and saw so many different types of women on their walls that were modeling their clothes, bras, leggings and underwear. I fell in love with the mission, and here I am three years later and still working at the same place because it brings me so much joy seeing women leave our store more confident in themselves and their beauty.
Always remember that you are beautiful and to stay #AerieReal!