When I look into a fitting room mirror, I judge myself. It does not matter if I am happy or angry at what my reflection shows and whether my new clothes look good; either way, I am looking at and criticizing my body. When the stores’ advertisements show very thin, sexy girls and I am pressured by society to look a certain way if I want to succeed in my career, I get discouraged. I wish there was a way to look in a mirror and not worry about what I see, but it is difficult in today’s culture.
Thankfully, some clothing companies are realizing how harmful their misleading images of Photoshopped models can be to young women like me. Just last month, American Eagle Outfitters’ sister brand Aerie, which sells lingerie, swimsuits and loungewear, released their new spring advertising campaign, called “aerie Real,” with a twist: they are not using supermodels in their ads, but real, Photoshop-free girls.
While I have never purchased anything from aerie and only occasionally shop at American Eagle, I love the idea behind their campaign. Ever since my junior year of high school, when I had to do a project looking at the media’s effects on young women’s body image, I have been waiting for more companies to follow aerie’s example. It is a noble and necessary change from the way things are typically done in the fashion world.
In addition to their website pages and in-store ads featuring girls that have not been retouched, aerie is reaching out via social media, asking customers to tag their Twitter and Instagram pictures with #aerieREAL to be featured on the store’s website. The page is filled with pictures of smiling, genuinely happy looking girls spreading the word that “the real you is beautiful.” My favorite bit of the campaign, though, is that aerie has put up signs on its fitting room mirrors reading, “The girl in this mirror has not been retouched. The real you is sexy, #aerieREAL.”
To me, this is encouraging. I wish all fitting room mirrors had such positive messages (although I would rather them tell me I was smart or kind or beautiful on the inside than sexy because I do not think women should place their value in their appearance, but that is a different can of worms). Instead of staring into the mirror and judging, maybe this will help girls feel more positive about how they look.
I hope that Aerie is successful in their new campaign, and that it inspires other companies to follow their lead. Just imagine if there were no more Photoshopped models. How much would our ideas of beauty shift? If more girls realize they do not have to fit a certain ideal in order to be beautiful, then we will have made significant progress in overcoming our body image issues. So be you, be real, and try not to judge what you see in the mirror. After all, we were made by God and I am pretty sure he thinks we all look just fine.