Aerie: a New Nest for Feminists

American Eagle Outfitters’ sister-brand, Aerie, boasts its #aerieREAL campaign with taglines like “Love Me, Don’t Retouch Me”, “Time to get real. No supermodels. No retouching.” and “The Real You is Sexy.”

The #aerieREAL campaign began with the line’s Spring 2014 release, and started by featuring young women, Aerie’s target demographic, posing in Aerie’s products without the overly sexualized intensity of a lot of their competitors.  This new tactic featured their shopping bags declaring that “The girl with this bag has not been retouched. The real you is sexy. #aerieREAL”, further emphasizing the campaign’s main goal: to empower girls and young women.

AEO also makes a point of engaging with their audience in a variety of ways: they encourage their fans and customers to share their Aerie Real-ness with hashtags on instagram and twitter, for a chance to be featured on the Aerie blog in their favourite Aerie wear.  And that little bit of fame is a good feeling — one that can be easily associated with the Brandy Melville method of conducting their market research.

Starting and ending here with beachy looks, we on the #BoycottBrandy team feel the most positively about American Eagle and Aerie brands, because of these philosophies that they have adopted.  AEO makes sure that they are a responsible company, declaring their awareness of the impact that fashion has on people — especially young women — and body image through their “AEO Better World” programs.  On Aerie specifically: “Our aerie line is tailored to young women, so we take special steps to address their unique needs in creating a balanced, healthy life.”  Unlike Brandy Melville, whose philosophy is myopic and exclusionary, in a world that already constantly works to control, exclude, and disempower women, especially young girls.

AEO endorses programs like “Bright Pink“, a non-profit organization focused on breast and ovarian cancer prevention and education, and “HERproject,” an initiative for equality between men and women in global supply chains.

The #aerieREAL twitter feed is full of tweets from fans saying “this was definitely uplifting” and “please do more of these”, because working with girls to help them celebrate their bodies the way that they are is actually empowering and body positive, rather than just pretending to be.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.48.10 PM

This all being said, #aerieREAL is not without its own problems.  While racial diversity is evident in the campaign photos and ads, there is still plenty to be desired in terms of the diversity of body types being presented.  The next step for Aerie’s REAL should be to diversify the sizes of their models, and to get over their fear of the word “fat.”

B63HLXwCIAAjepT

I for one would love to see #aerieREAL take up the mantle of un-demonizing fatness, since they’ve already proven to be willing to take the risk of going against the grain by not retouching their models. To put it in their own words: “It’s time to feature beautiful images that reflect all realities” (my emphasis). I love the engagement that they’ve taken to their audience and want to see more, more, more of it!!!

Brandy Melville, as well as other labels, can definitely learn a thing or two from AEO’s progressive model.  Besides saving themselves money on graphic designers, who have to put hours into the model retouching, clothing companies can enact change in the way women’s bodies are perceived, and how women perceive their own bodies.  If we embrace everyone’s “imperfection” and keep rolling on with this celebration of realness as normal, the world will be a safer, more positive, more uplifting place.

More Links for You, as Always…

AEO Better World

Aerie on Twitter and Instagram 

xoxo – Kristin

Advertisements

Keely’s Fitting Room Confessions: Part 1

This past week, Kristin and I decided to go on an adventure to West Edmonton Mall in hopes of discovering the truth behind the “one size fits most” phenomenon. As well as comparing the sizes of different brands of jeans, from low-end to high-end, to better understand inconsistencies within women’s clothing. This is just a quick overview of our trip. A more detailed analysis is coming soon.

My Stats

me

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 160 lbs

Tops: M, L

Bottoms: 10-12

Those are my stats just for reference. And the picture here is me in my regular clothes. I consider myself very average. Not too small, not too big. Could I lose a few pounds? Maybe. Will I? Only if I want to. Also, the most common size in the US is a size 12, so I think I represent the majority just fine. So keep this in mind when looking at the photos of me in the “one size fits most.” Either I am much larger than a size 12, or one size doesn’t fit most. Spoiler alert.

Clothing Sizes around the World

We already know shopping can be hard, annoying, frustrating and downright painful at times. What makes it even more confusing is the fact that every single country has a different sizing system. Stores like H&M and Zara have the different sizes right on the label, which makes it easy. But other stores only have the European size listed, which is a headache.meee

Here’s a conversion table for women’s clothing sizes. It looks slightly intimidating at first. And it is! A lot of foreign stores are making their way into North America. Especially in huge shopping centres like West Edmonton Mall. This means that not only are the clothing sizes within Canada confusing and inconsistent, but now we have to worry about the systems in other countries too.

One other thing that really irks me about shopping is that half the time jeans are sizes 0-14, and the other half of the time they’re 24-32. What’s up with that? Why can’t we just come up with a universal sizing system for jeans? That would be nice.

The Stores

Kristin and I wanted to visit a variety of stores so we could really compare the differences in clothing. We visited some very, very expensive stores, as well as some more modest ones. We each tried on several pairs of jeans at each store, and I definitely noticed some patterns. This is a quick breakdown of each store we went to, price point, sizes available and some notes about what I noticed.

Brandy Melville

Price: $

Sizes: XS, SM, “One size fits most”

Overall Impression: I need to eat a salad.

This store makes me very sad. The clothes are super cute, but they literally only carry a size small or extra small. The tag will say “one size fits most,” but the tag on the actual piece of clothing says small! It’s ridiculous. Even the jeans were labeled SM or XS. The only thing that actually fit me was a sweater, but that’s only because it was meant to be very oversized. I would definitely not shop there. I wouldn’t want to give my money to a corporation that caters only to supermodel-sized women.

fdjhfjd

High Grade

Price: $$$ – could barely afford to be in the store

Sizes: Up to size 31 or 32

Overall Impression: Nice jeans, but sizes were too small. Not a lot of options.

I was very uncomfortable when we first went into High Grade. Maybe because a pair of jeans is half of one month’s rent. There was definitely an air of pretentiousness. I also felt a little bit guilty since I had absolutely no intentions of buying anything. Not that I could buy anything anyways, since the largest size they had was a 31, which is roughly a 10.

True Religion

Price: $$$

Sizes: Up to size 32

Overall Impression: Not worth $400

I have the same feelings about True Religion as I do about High Grade. The largest size was 32, which is a 12. There was a pair that fit me, but they were also $400. No thanks. They don’t have any options for curvier girls, which is unfortunate. I guess the brand only caters to smaller people because they don’t want larger people to be seen wearing their clothes.

 

Old Navy

Price: $

Sizes: 00-30 (plus size)

Overall Impression: Awesome! Caters to ALL shapes & sizes. There’s an option for every woman here.

I commend Old Navy for being so all-inclusive. They have a bunch of different sizes, cuts, and lengths for pretty much any body type. They also go up to size 30 (plus size)! No one has to feel bad or ashamed, because there’s something for everyone here. And the prices are more than reasonable.

 

American Eagle

Price: $-$$

Sizes: 00-18

Overall Impression: Plenty of sizes & fits for every body type. Also available in short and long.

I may be a bit biased, because AE is my favourite store. But I think they do a great job at reaching a wide audience. Like Old Navy, they also have a variety of lengths and cuts. They also go up to a size 18, but only carry up to size 12 in store.

More pictures and a detailed analysis coming soon!

-Keely