Saturday, January 25, 2014

Aerie's un-retrouched ads.. BIG DEAL?

Aerie, the lingerie brand owned by American Eagle, recently released a series of ads that show un-retouched models.

I actually got one of the ads in the mail because I shop at Aerie. It talks about how they didn't use retouching. I flipped through the ad with mild interest.
So, no retouching. But they chose drop dead gorgeous, skinny, mostly white women for this ad. And then said, BUT WE DIDN'T RETOUCH THEM!

Um… Who the heck cares. Yes these women are beautiful! I'm not saying that they aren't! But the whole point of "no retouching" should be showcasing women of every shape, size, ability, color, ethnicity, etc, etc. Which is woefully missing from these ads, save the one woman of color who seems to be, maybe "plus size" also? By beauty industry standards only, of course. The rest of the world would just call her of average size.

I guess I'm asking too much. I mean, this is a store owned by American Eagle which is definitely not known for being very inclusive or selling bigger sizes in their clothes.

Still. I refuse to be amazed by this campaign. And I certainly don't think that Aerie has done as much as they think they have to make women feel better about themselves. With the exception of the tattoos on a few girls (are these imperfections??), and a few actual *gasp* wrinkles in women's skin when they pose, I don't see much that's different from Aerie's regular ads. There's no body hair, cellulite, stretch marks, or scars anywhere to be seen in this ad.

In fact, I wonder if these ads will have a detrimental effect on women and girl's self esteem. They will see these ads and think wow these girls aren't even airbrushed and they look like that! I'll never look that ______. (Insert your adjective of choice: pretty, sexy, white, skinny, toned, etc, etc).

A tattoo!! How REAL. 

I know that we should be happy that Aerie even tried, when most companies (most notably in the lingerie business, Victoria's Secret) doesn't even attempt to give us variety in their models. So we should celebrate that they tried something new! Well, yeah. Great for them. And they got what I'm sure they wanted, which was people to look at and talk about their ads.

This doesn't mean that we have accept these ads and move on. There can still be a dialogue and a challenge to people's way of thinking. We so easily accept what the media gives us and are happy for any morsel of "average" women in our advertisements. But shouldn't we be pushing for more!? More women of color, differently abled women, women with scars, women with boobs and butts, and cellulite and wrinkles. But also skinny girls and athletic girls and tall girls and short girls and girls with flat chests, and trans* women. Because variety represents what WE as humans actually look like. It sucks to look in a magazine, look at ads, turn on the TV and see NO ONE who looks like you.

So, thank you Aerie for starting the conversation on "real" beauty. Let's not let this be the end of it.