Swimsuit season isn't easy on anyone, regardless of the size you wear. Your eyes are immediately drawn to every flaw the minute you step into the dressing room, especially when the walls are gray, and the room has the most unflattering lighting you could imagine. It's so easy to lose confidence in yourself and remain body positive in these conditions, and you are much less likely to purchase anything.
Aerie, a subset of the American Eagle brand, focuses on lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear. Their campaign, Aerie Real Role Models, showcases women of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, and abilities and their own real beauty. None of their images online, in catalogs, and in stores are never retouched or photoshopped and encourages all women and girls to embrace their natural beauty.
This year's Role Models include Aly Raisman (Olympic gold medal gymnast), Busy Philipps (actress and author), and Molly Burke (blind motivational speaker and social media influencer), among many others. In allowing all girls to see others with bodies like their own represented in this campaign, it gives everyone a sense of acceptance and belonging, especially in an industry that prioritizes a certain physique and body type.
This amazing philosophy also carries over into their stores. Upon walking into their dressing room, I was surprised to find body-positive and girl-empowering artwork on the bright walls, and a large well-lit mirror decorated with sticky notes written by previous customers. Each sticky note had a personalized note on it, promoting messages like: "You are beautiful!" and "Yes girl!!" Such a blatant display of girls supporting girls is so powerful and amazing, especially in a situation where we are often much less confident.
This campaign is so powerful and amazing to see, especially in a day and age where perfection is so prioritized, that almost everyone retouches or edits their photos. This brand is giving women and girls that are not typically represented in the modeling industry a platform to show all girls that they are beautiful and idolized, regardless of their size, ethnicity, or ability. I hope that more brands follow Aerie's lead in the near future, and give all girls the confidence to love the skin they're in.