AerieREAL Doesn't Portray As Diverse Bodies As They Claim

Aerie Fits The Bill For Body Positivity, But Needs A Different Size On Body Politics

Aerie is body positive? In a body politics view, not quite.


Body positive clothing? An improved version of Victoria's Secret? Supporting more diversity in body types? Yes, please!

Wait — not like that, though.

These statements entail my thoughts when I walked into Aerie, branded as aerie, for the first time. Yet another example of almost-but-not-quite body positivity, aka body positivity that still fits thin privilege standards.

If you haven't heard, Aerie is a store owned by American Eagle Outfitters and sells lingerie, bathing suits, athleisure, and other similar items of clothing. One of its campaigns is #AerieREAL, in which it encourages people to post untouched photos of their bodies no matter what they look like. It sometimes will even donate a dollar to the National Eating Disorders Association for every post with that hashtag it sees. In addition, the Aerie store is filled with pictures of women who have bigger than stick-thin bodies.

I chose the phrase "bigger than stick-thin" over "diverse" or "overweight" or "curvy" on purpose. While the bodies do have curves and are just as valid as the healthy body of someone who's thin or fat (reminder: fat is not a bad word, but a descriptor!), it doesn't fully encompass as best it can bodies of people who are Fat with a capital F, who are not able-bodied, who are very dark or very light, who are transgender, who are not conventionally attractive, who are really old or who have skin diseases.

Body positivity, at its best, is body politics. It's not only weight or shape, but it's also every other aspect of a body that exists and can be an object of privilege or oppression.

When I was in the store, I desperately looked to find a body that looked different than that of any other. I loved Aerie's campaign and really wanted to find a store that was embracing what stores should be embracing all along.

However, I have to be honest: Aerie did not fit the bill. As a society and as individuals, we still have so much to learn. Here are examples of photos you may see:

The video they created and the pictures of women on their website could be worse, I admit. Aerie is making progress that no other store has. Additionally, I just heard that their fitting rooms have sticky notes where people can write encouraging messages and that the bottom of the mirror says "This is what #aerieREAL looks like."

Brb, crying.

But walking into the store this past summer for the first time, for my first experience in Aerie when I had heard so many good reviews — well, I was not satisfied. Thin privilege was everywhere.

If you haven't heard, people who have thin privilege usually fall into these categories: can find their size easily in every store, aren't told to lose weight, easily fit into one airplane seat, aren't denied jobs because of discrimination against their size or the stereotypes that go along with them, and can eat "junk" food without others' judgement.

I'm happy to say that these women portrayed were mostly "regular people" rather than solely celebrities or other kinds of famous people. However, I did see one strong woman I recognized: Aly Raisman.

Raisman's advocacy for survivors, her teammates, and herself is something I look up to and greatly respect. She is the epitome of a strong woman and role model. I'm glad that she and the media have spread her message in court and on Twitter.

However, I hurt for her other teammates, fellow survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse, that have power in other ways that didn't show as prominently during their testimonies and messages to Nassar. Those women are just as strong and important and admirable. If they want it, they deserve a little spotlight and appreciation too.

My message to Aerie is this: keep doing what you're doing, but also do a little bit more. Strive for high levels of diversity. Change society's narrative on "attractive" and "worthy" and "admirable" and "beautiful." Use your power to spread unpopular but true opinions and advocate for those marginalized individuals and the rights they deserve. Don't play it safe; make a big statement. Be loud and proud about what you believe (or should believe, in my opinion) that's controversial. Include women who are transgender. Include women who are Fat. When you say #AerieREAL, mean it and show it. We don't want almost-real, or kinda-real, or real enough. We want REAL, and every, and firm.

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.

My whole life I've been thin — which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you're underweight" lecture that I've heard every year since I was able to form memories. I've never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school, I've probably only gained 8 pounds and I'm now a sophomore in college.

Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I'm now 19, 5'2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.


You're probably wondering where I'm going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That's really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it OK to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it OK to say “only dogs like bones" or say “every body type is beautiful" until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they're “unnaturally" skinny?


The point I'm trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I'm always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I'm not Jessica.

Yeah, I'm a size 00. Get over it.

If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don't look at it. I know that I'm healthy and I don't need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don't have an eating disorder and never have.

I am real beauty though, and I know that because I'm comfortable in my own skin.

So, maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters' throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they're actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I'm not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can't help it.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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The Life Of A Curvy Girl Is Very Exciting

To every curvy girl out there, share your curves as a positive outcome to your circumstances


Have you ever noticed in all the magazines, blogs, and TV it shows a thin size woman? In all the entertainment I take in, there was always a skinny woman. It brought down my self-esteem, and I would try to starve myself, yet it doesn't help. However, what if I was meant to be a curvy girl?

Before I go any further, I know that God gave me this body to take of it. But what if I was meant to be this size so, I can touch others who feel negative towards their bodies? For every curvy woman, you are so beautiful!!

Throughout my life, I wasn't thin. I had a gut. I had thighs. I was very unhappy with myself. Yet, I look at the expectations and what people will be happy with. But if there is one thing I realized, its that people are temporary. The naysayers in your life are not set in gold. They will push you to make sure that you're happy with yourself. I truly believe if people look at me weird, that means I'm doing an amazing job with not conforming in the world but transforming in the renewing of the mind. By the way, that's Romans 12:2 in the bible!

When it comes to the curves, I'm truly grateful for them. There are some positives to having a curvy body. For one, when it comes to wearing jeans, it shapes you well. The curves pop and the haters bow down! Other than that, I truly love how I look in jeans! Another positive thing about curves, its that there are amazing clothes for us! I was on Facebook the other day, and I saw a company called Dia&Co.; Dia&Co; is a customized clothing company for plus sized women which has all the styles. When I saw the clothes, I was truly amazed. The colors and the material of the clothes were truly special.

What defines beauty? Is it makeup or having a model's body? Is it buying the most expensive clothes as a statement? I'm here to tell you those are not the definitions of beauty. The true definition of beauty is acceptance. Accepting the circumstances, even if other people say so. True beauty is waking up with a smile on your face for living another day and finding your purpose in life. Beauty is being you!

To all of you curvy women out there in the world, you are truly a blessing. Thank you for standing out of the normal and taking a step to give others the courage to becoming their selves. I learned to treat my body with the utmost respect. I must learn to take care of it and embrace it at the same time. Psalms 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well." So, Instead of me being a worried progress, God made me a working progress, because all things work together for good.

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