In its spring 2014 “Aerie real” campaign that launched this January, Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie line, decided to ditch Photoshop. The models wearing the lingerie are not retouched. With its slogan, “Aerie real—the real you is sexy,” Aerie is taking a different approach to beauty rather than the traditional ways of altering the appearance of women.
Before Aerie, Dove was another brand that opposed giving girls and women false beauty ideals. Instead, Dove chose women with feminine curves for their commercials. However, Dove’s campaigns were targeted towards middle-aged women. Aerie, on the other hand, is a brand directed at teenage girls and young women.
While Victoria’s Secret is still taking advantage of the misleading functions of Photoshop, such as making stretch marks, tattoos, and other seemingly “imperfections” invisible, Aerie shows unaltered models throughout their entire spring campaign.
Mabel Santos Haugen, a junior Film major, said, that already at a young age, most ad campaigns convey the wrong ideal body image to girls. “Girls and young women think they need to look like the photoshopped models they see in the ads in order to fit the norm,” she said. “They have this image of retouched models in their head and think that’s the way they should look, but it’s not real because the pictures are edited,” she added.
“This campaign is a step in the right direction,” said Nicole Urbonas, a senior International Business major. “I guess Aerie is trying to reach out to a real, relatable market. It’s simply a fact that not everyone is a Victoria’s Secret model and when not retouched these models have their flaws.”
Of course, one could say that these campaigns, promoting more realistic standards, are not effective because there are only a few companies who have adopted this approach and the models are still skinny. But, it takes a lot of courage to go against the trend.
Brands should focus on representing the larger part of the population in their campaigns since customers want to imagine how certain pieces would look on them and not only on a size zero model with a B cup.
One campaign cannot change the way the industry addresses the population or conveys the ideal beauty image to society, but hopefully these pictures will be a wakeup call for some to realize: the real you is sexy.