Keeping it Real: Why Aerie's Advertising Campaign is SO Important

Raise your hand if you've ever felt insecure, ashamed, uncomfortable, or embarrassed about your body...

We all can relate.  

Living in this media-driven society, we're constantly flooded with imagery of impossibly slim girls (who somehow still exhibit the "desirable" curves), girls with shimmering tans and no bumps or scars, girls with impeccable, glittering teeth and smooth, silky hair - the so called "perfect" women. Of course these models are beautiful, but the reality is that what we see on our screens or in magazines is not those women at all.

It's Photoshop. It's retouching. It's an edited truth.  

I've yet to meet a girl who has never struggled with body image, and feeling inadequate in your own skin is definitely something that both girls and guys experience. That's why I'm so happy that Aerie, the undergarment and swimwear branch of American Eagle, is changing the face of advertising with the #AerieREAL campaign! In case you're not familiar with it, the purpose of the #AerieREAL campaign is to promote body positivity, girl power, and self love by never retouching, airbrushing, or Photoshopping their models. Furthermore, #AerieREAL models are ordinary women who just want to spread positivity and the gift of a good, comfy bra! Aerie has included models with visible disabilities or illnesses that we've NEVER seen in lingerie ads before, as well as women of all different sizes and body types.

Every woman featured on Aerie's website and social media is different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they look genuinely happy. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the average age of onset for both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is 18. These disorders affect both males and females, but each is significantly more prevalent in females. As a 19 year old female, I know I spend a lot of time on the internet, and I see ads for things like bathing suits and lingerie all the time. We're conditioned to believe that beauty is what we see in those ads. It's the classic Victoria's Secret Angels, the girl on the front of the Sports Illustrated Sex - sorry, I mean Swimsuit - edition, the never-had-a-pimple Maybelline models, etc. And honestly, seeing those images put on a pedestal and lauded as beauty standards can be super discouraging.

But when I'm scrolling through Instagram and I see a picture of an #AerieREAL girl who has natural curves rocking a bikini, just radiating joy, it makes me so. freaking. happy. When I see a girl modeling a bra whose cup size actually makes sense with her body type, it makes me want the product because they're made for real women, not "angels"! Whenever I see a model who has scars, or uses a wheelchair, or has braces, and Aerie's caption is all about supporting one another and loving our bodies, I feel lifted up. And THAT is the message we should be promoting as a society.

Collegiettes, be you. Be real. Love one another, and love yourself.