Aerie Lingerie Gets #Real
The lingerie and intimates business generally seems to lead the charge of industries that reinforce the idea that skinny, busty, white, and flawless women are beauty itself. While there has been occasional pushback, ideals such as these have maintained a firm grasp on the beauty industry for decades. Aerie, American Eagle Outfitters’ line of intimates and sleepwear aimed at teens and young adult women, recently took a small, albeit notable step toward expanding the scope of beautiful beyond photoshopped perfection. This year’s spring campaign, called “aerie Real”, features a myriad of models in all colors, shapes, and sizes presented in unretouched photos. Aerie is adverting this campaign—“Time to think real. Time to get real. No supermodels. No more retouching. Because the real you is sexy.”—on billboards, totebags, sleep tees, and through social media hashtags. Jennifer Foyle, Aerie’s Chief Merchandising Officer, explains “…the purpose of ‘aerie Real’ is to communicate there is no need to retouch beauty, and to give young women of all shapes and sizes the chance to discover amazing styles that work best for them. We want to help empower young women to be confident in themselves and their bodies.”
Aerie is one of few companies in the women’s clothing and cosmetics that have taken a stand against the hyper-retouched beauty industry by focusing its marketing campaigns on appealing to the average woman and promoting self acceptance and love. In 2013, Dove produced a short film titled Real Beauty Sketches as part of its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Pantene’s commercial Shine Strong, highlighting sexism in the workplace, also made waves, spurring a conversation challenging the way media and advertising presents female beauty and strength.
Aerie has joined this conversation in recent months. ABC News’ Juju Chang asked Jenny Altman, style and fit expert for Aerie’s newest line of bras, to comment on the fresh marketing approach. “We left everything. We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign,” she explained. “It’s a selling point because our customers represent this great demographic and they don’t really get to see what girls their age really look like. They are still models, they’re still gorgeous, they just look a little more like the rest of us,” she added. “We’re hoping to break the mold … we hope by embracing this that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty”. Aerie model Hana may have explained the sentiment of the campaign best in her closing comments in the collection preview. “The world is full of strong girls,” Hana tells the camera with a bright smile, “the world just needs more strong girls that stand up and share themselves.”