American Eagle has said goodbye to PhotoShop in its latest campaign. In ads for its young women's lingerie line, Aerie, models strip down and bare their flaws, as tiny as those flaws might seem to the rest of us. The company says that it wants to promote more realistic standards for their teen and preteen customers.
"We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign," Aerie brand representative Jenny Altman said on Good Morning America.
The models in the "Aerie Real" campaign are obviously still young, beautiful and very thin — Aerie hasn't overthrown the system — but "imperfections" (tattoos, beauty marks, lines, dimples, fat, puckering and slight stretch marks) are clearly on display.
"They are still models, they're still gorgeous, they just look a little more like the rest of us," Altman added. "We're hoping to break the mold … we hope by embracing this that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty."
The change in airbrushing policy has a practical purpose too. It used to be that fashion designers preferred stick-thin, almost boyish models that their clothing could literally hang off of. But now that so many women are doing their shopping online, using models that look like real women could help consumers make better informed purchasing decisions. The new Aerie site, for instance, will allow an online shopper to see how the bra she likes would fit on a model with a similar body type and breast size as her own. Being able to see the items on those models with various cup sizes will help the customer visualize the items on her own body.
In a month in which magazines photoshopping curvaceous celebs have made headlines (see, Mindy Kaling's cropped Elle cover and the difference between Lena Dunham's pre- and post-photoshopped spread in Vogue), American Eagle's bold move may pay off with consumers who are starting to get fed up with photo alterations.