Victoria's Secret has always been my personal go-to store when shopping for underwear. Like most of my friends, I live for the 7/$27 sales and insanely comfortable hoodies that they alway seem to produce new versions of. And of course the fashion show is always something I look forward to. I plop myself down on the couch in sweatpants with a bowl of popcorn in my hand and get ready for my self esteem to drop as the perfect models walk out and dance across the runway.
Now I know these models are naturally thin, and work out all the time as well as eat healthy to maintain their bodies. And don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore both the Victoria's Secret and Pink brands. However, behind the flawless bodies are a team of professional photographers who work their magic to photoshop any "imperfections" out of the pictures taken of these women. Their women are all twig thin as well, setting a precedent for women all across the world. I understand that they have a certain look to keep up with when it comes to their brand, but what happened to diversity? What happened to a changing world where we embrace people of all shapes, sizes, and blemishes?
In 2014, the popular clothing store American Eagle announced that they would no longer be retouching the images of their models for their Aerie underwear line. They started a campaign using the hashtag #AerieREAL to promote self love, showing girls and women models embracing their natural selves. On top of all of this, they welcomed Barbie Ferreira onto their team, finally endorsing a "plus-sized" model. Iskra Lawrence also hit the world like a storm, telling her story of being rejected by modeling companies because she was too "big" to be a model yet too "small" to be a plus-sized model. Aerie welcomed her onto their team, inviting her to be the brand's spokesmodel.
Aerie is changing the way females look at themselves. What once was an industry that only size zero girls could enter, has now spread an empowering and positive message that has been going viral since it's first release. Aerie models have been breaking boundaries and spreading buzz about body positivity, motivating girls of all ages and sizes to look in the mirror and love what they see.
The models challenge society's beauty standards, daring critiques to look at them and say they aren't beautiful. Cellulite and stretch marks, two of the most commonly airbrushed items in most beauty industries are left alone, and body shapes and blemishes are not retouched. Social media has been blasted with images of the models and the hashtag #AerieREAL, and comments are made about wanting to change the industry, instead of changing their bodies. Aerie's models have learned to be confident in their own skin and are intent on proving to the rest of the world that they too have natural, raw beauty that doesn't need to be retouched.
I can admit I haven't quite given up my VS sports bras or signature PINK pajamas yet, because change is something that occurs over time. I have, however, found myself in Aerie stores more often than Victoria's Secret, and follow the social media accounts of the inspiring models who are displayed across the Aerie store fronts. Change may occur over time, but Aerie's "The Real You Is Beautiful" campaign is taking on the world as fast as possible, one untouched image at a time.