Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The New Aerie Ad Campaign and Why It's Awesome.

aerie Real is shot by John Urbano
"The girl in this photo has not been retouched. The real you is sexy". Since aerie Real's release earlier this month the ad campaign has been receiving major attention for holding themselves to a standard of natural beauty, and not retouching the models shown in their photographs.

Everything from tattoos to stretch marks has been left on the models, all for the public to see, and honestly, I'm loving it. Everywhere I go I see pictures of what I'm supposed to look like, and what I'm supposed to be, according to society and the fashion industry. But this campaign, and aerie, get it. Because so many images are shoved at us everyday that tell us that stretch marks are wrong. Thighs that touch are wrong. (side note: a very small percent of the population has a thigh gap and it's not important to anyone, least of all dudes who will never notice.) Belly rolls are wrong. Crooked teeth and uneven skin tones are wrong. Body hair is wrong. But the whole idea that women, in their natural state, are wholly disgusting and need made over is WRONG. However, this idea is cemented into our thought processes by the women we see on tv and in magazines, who have been so airbrushed they don't even look like themselves anymore. The women we see in magazines are lies. Those women don't actually exist. Because no woman has perfect skin and is perfectly shaped and also, who has the right to dictate what classifies a woman as a "real woman"? I digress.

Aerie's target demographic is women between the ages of 15 - 21, the group that is influenced most by what they see in the media, in regards to their ideas on beauty. But now...we are being empowered. We are being told that we are okay. That is perfectly fine to look like we do. That I, with my crooked smile, thighs decorated with stretch marks, and random mole on my face, am pretty.

Thanks, Aerie.
And yes, this is definitely a marketing ploy. But hey. If aerie is trying to move merch by telling me I'm sexy in my own skin, I'm going to let them. Because the world doesn't tell me that enough, and even though I'm a confidant young woman, it's really nice to hear the world tell me I'm hot without all the make up and photoshop once in a while. In a release, aerie stated that their whole intention with the campaign was to "challenge supermodel standards in young women". Aerie wants women to feel like we don't have to be supermodels all damn day long and that's sadly, revolutionary. So many companies make their money off of telling us what we could look like in their clothes, what we should look like and what products to buy to make us look that way and here comes Aerie, holding our hands and saying "hey, so what if your thighs jiggle when you walk. You still look cute in our underwear".

As if the ad campaign isn't enough, Aerie has revamped their website to show REAL girls wearing sizes of clothing that you're searching for. On most websites you get a model wearing a 36C, pretty average (thought to be ideal but who is to say what ideal breast size is?) cup size, no matter what size you click on when taking a closer look at the product. On Aerie's new website you click on 40DD you get to see a model sporting a 40DD bra, and it is real, and it is wonderful. Aerie's site is a refreshing change from other sites that market to the same group of young women, who often use way photoshopped photos (some less obvious than others) to model their apparel. The worst offender? I bet you guessed it. Victoria's Secret who only shows one model and that model is plastic perfect in her photograph.

Aerie vs. Victoria's Secret and Forever 21
The #aeriereal trend is one that I hope other brands follow suit on. Instead of opening up Seventeen (yes, I read Seventeen) and seeing all these young ladies I can't look like because I didn't win the genetic lottery and become a superhuman, I would like to see a girl I could relate to and be one of. The solution is as simple as the Aerie Real campaign. More women need to be shown naturally, not retouched, in magazines and major advertising campaigns to let other women know that we don't have to look like supermodels day in and day out. It's okay to have a day where we just wear our hair in top-knots and go to the store in our sweats with no make up on. Anyone worth mentioning probably won't care.

So thank you, Aerie Real, for attempting to end the cycle of companies telling us what we have to wear to achieve some standard of beauty we can't actually achieve. Thank you for telling me that it is okay to feel gorgeous in my own skin, and that the real me is amazing, just the way I am.

Alexis Olmstead is an aspiring Tony winner who just landed a really cool gig portraying Dorothy in OVOC's Spring Musical, The Wizard of Oz. She frequently rants about gender inequality and how annoying she finds rude people. For more updates on her life as Dorothy or her general opinion on random things, check back often. 


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