Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie brand, has captured the hearts of young women by using relatable models.
Aerie abandoned retouching images last year.
“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,” Aerie’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Jennifer Foyle, said in a statement in 2014.
“We left beauty marks, we left tattoos — what you really see is what you get with our campaign,” Jenny Altman, a spokesperson for the brand, explained to Good Morning America in early 2014, when the brand launched this groundbreaking movement.
The original ‘aerie Real’ campaign was photographed by John Urbano.
Along with the unretouched photos, Aerie launched a ‘Real Girl Talk’ hotline, allowing women to speak to fitting experts in real time.
Aerie stopped retouching models because “we wanted to offer our customer something different, a real experience,” Aerie’s senior director of marketing, Dana Seguin, told Fast Company.
These photos are not a stunt. “This is now our brand,” Seguin said to Fast Company. “It’s not a seasonal campaign for us. It is now how we’re talking to our customers.”
“These girls are beautiful on their own,” she added when talking to Fast Company. “The girls are beautiful on their own. It sounds hysterical for anyone not working in the business, but that might’ve been the toughest part.”
When the brand first announced the decision to completely nix Photoshopping, it wrote a note to its young female audience on Facebook explaining the decision.
“We think it’s time for a change,” the letter read. “We think it’s time to GET REAL and THINK REAL.”
“We want every girl to feel good about how they are and what they look like, inside and out.”
The brand said the reason there doing this was because “there is no reason to retouch beauty. We think THE REAL YOU IS SEXY.”
This ad campaign has paid off in more than one way. The brand was awarded the first-ever NEDA Inspires Seal of Approval by the National Eating Disorder Association in spring 2015.
“Aerie is committed to challenging supermodel standards to spark a conversation within the fashion industry,” Aerie’s brand president, Jen Foyle, said in a statement at the time of the award.
The award was instigated by Aerie’s own model, Iskra Lawrence, who told People she was once dropped from her agency because she was seen as too curvy. “The number of messages I receive directly from girls who are suffering or recovering from eating disorders, who have been inspired by Aerie and my photos, is incredible,” she said to People.
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