Aerie Real: An In-Depth Analysis

Taylor Mulcahey | staff writer

“Dear Aerie girls, we think it’s time for a change. We think it’s time to GET REAL and THINK REAL… This means no more retouching our girls and no more supermodels. Why? Because the real you is sexy.”

The above message is part of an advertisement for Aerie, a subsidiary of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing brand that specializes in women’s lingerie and sleepwear.

What sets Aerie apart from similar companies, like Victoria’s Secret, is the Aerie Real campaign. It promises that Aerie never uses photoshop on images of models.

Beginning in early 2014, the campaign proved incredibly successful for the company’s sales and reputation. The outpouring of public feedback was largely positive and, according to Business Insider, sales increased by nine percent in the quarter following its launch.

However, there were still a number of people who voiced their dissatisfaction.

“There’s nothing radical, free-thinking, or forward-moving about using conventionally attractive people to sell lingerie,” Cora Harrington wrote on her blog, The Lingerie Addict.

It would be reductive to say one that the campaign is all good or all bad — there are some great elements of the campaign, and some shortcomings as well. Here’s my breakdown of Aerie Real.

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SOLUTION: Just keep talking about it.

It’s exhausting to praise every effort that doesn’t quite hit the mark, but sometimes these conversations are beneficial. The Aerie Real campaign is something worth talking about. It’s pushing the boundaries of the industry, and succeeding while doing so.

Still, it’s important that Aerie looks to improve their campaign in the future. There are so many different kinds of beauty in the world, all of which are deserving of rec- ognition and appreciation. Employ more diverse models, disabled models, trans models and models who subvert traditional standards of beauty.

There’s a long way to go, and if Aerie really wants to be a trailblazer, they’re going to have to keep moving forward. ◆

Photo from Creative Commons.


Check out more from our February 2016 issue!