A twelve-paneled LED billboard featuring young girls with fat rolls, stretch marks, and scars in the middle of Times Square? That’s what you could be looking at pretty soon because American Eagle has just launched its Aerie ‘real’ model campaign in an effort to challenge unrealistic supermodel standards for young women. “What you see is what you get,” declared Aerie brand representative, Jenny Altman, on Good Morning America.
But while I commend AE’s efforts to take a step in the right direction, let’s be honest, is this really ‘real’? Looking at the girls featured on Aerie, it seems to me and many other women that they’re all still identically slim, toned and identically just as gorgeous.
“If it’s truly about diversity, what about including people who are petite… have missing limbs, skin conditions, or other physical characteristics of real people?” critiqued commenter NinjaDragonXyzizzle at Yahoo.
A Swiss campaign launched recently featured the production of mannequins modeling real people with disabilities. So, maybe instead of being ahead of the game, Aerie is behind. Not to mention that American Eagle Inc. has seen better days than this. Last week, shares of American Eagle took a dive for the worse and AE CEO Robert Hanson stepped down from the company. This could mean we’re seeing the transition to a new AE face in order comply with the changing fashion industry and consumer tastes of the present.
But while AE is selling this as an innovative idea, I still credit this movement to Dove, spearheading the campaign for real beauty—see the uncanny similarity?
James R. Hallowan on Adweek claims “The problem with this ad is it still glorifies beauty standards as they already are… Dove did a better job at utilizing the flaws many women struggle with (curvy body, big “masculine” jaws, crooked teeth, etc.) and making an argument for them to be standards of beauty for today as well.”
But I say give them a break! It’s a little more difficult to sell ‘real beauty’ when you’re marketing lingerie versus soap or shampoo. While this campaign may still be superficial… at least it’s not plastic. Kudos to AE to taking a step in the right direction.