On the Aerie Real Campaign

Screenshot from Aerie's website. A screenshot from Aerie’s website for the Real campaign.

Aerie is American Eagle’s little sister lingerie company, and it’s a store that I actually quite like. The prices are a bit high, but when you catch them on sale, you can get some cute stuff. Their main products are bras and underwear, like many lingerie companies. They don’t make my size of bras, but they sell amazing undies at really reasonable prices, and I probably bought 30 pairs of them over the summer.

This week, Aerie announced that they will no longer be using supermodels in their ads, and they will no longer be retouching the models they do use. They’ve branded this the Aerie Real campaign.

I think this is a small step in the right direction. In an industry that is attempts to make consumers feel insecure in order to create a market for their product (the “you’re inadequate, but if you buy our pushup bra you won’t be” effect), it’s neat to see more positive marketing.

However, I don’t think that this whole campaign is positive, nor do I think that Aerie deserves the massive kudos that they’re being slathered with.

Looking at the models in the above photo, I’d say that all of them are conventionally pretty. All of them have fairly even and blemish-free skin, and frizzless hair. All of them are under about a size 8 (maybe even 6). Sure, you can see a tattoo, some tan lines, folds of skin, and a single mole, but that’s a far cry from representing everyone.

Under the guise of change, we get more of the same.

I still see predominantly white models. (Two in the above ad appear to be non-white.) Where is everyone else?

I still see a lot of smooth, flowing hair. Where are the people with short hair? Frizzy hair? No hair?

I still see a lot of smooth, even skin. Where are the gals with tummies that hang over the edge of their undies? The ones with scars and stretch marks? The ones who’re breaking out at the moment, or who have scars from past breakouts? Where are the people who forgot to shave their legs that day? The ones with lumps and bumps and wobbly bits?

I still see a bunch of thin, pretty girls. Where are the ones with breasts smaller than a AA, or larger than a DD? Where are the women who’re bigger than a size 8?

We’re out there in the world, but not in this ad. This campaign isn’t real; it’s marketing, and Aerie’s taken the whole concept of reality and used it as a marketing tool. They’ve taken a step closer to reality in that they’re no longer making their models look like aliens by photoshopping away kneecaps and skin texture. However, until they start hiring more diverse models, I don’t think that not photoshopping conventionally beautiful women is sufficient.

Panem et circenses, friends. That’s all it is.

P.S. They should also start carrying bra sizes bigger than a DD pls and thx.

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