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Opinion: Aerie’s ‘real you’ campaign doesn’t define womanhood

March 25, 2014

Melissa Prax
Aerie has stopped using manipulated photos in an effort to promote ‘more realistic standards for their teen and preteen customers.’ The campaign uses the slogan ‘The real you is sexy.’

Aerie has stopped using manipulated photos in an effort to promote ‘more realistic standards for their teen and preteen customers.’ The campaign uses the slogan ‘The real you is sexy.’ Credit: Courtesy of Aerie

The real woman.

Is a “real woman” what men want, what women view their ideal selves as, or what everyone who was born as or considers themselves a woman is?

I have seen the memes and articles pouring over on social media, feeding ideas of what a real woman is.

“The media” are blamed for why women feel bad about themselves. During shopping sprees, women blame the models for their low self-confidence and imperfections, and say they long to see “real women” in the blown up pictures and magazines.

So when American Eagle’s lingerie brand, Aerie, began using “real women” (read: not edited) in their spring 2014 campaign, many women ran to the stores.

Ingenious marketing, but many women are missing the point.

They think they are finally being celebrated, yet the “real women” used in this campaign are being used in the same way any model is: to sell lingerie.

As for American Eagle brand models that are still airbrushed and altered in advertising — are they not real women?

I like to compare the modeling industry to watching a movie. I watch a movie because I want to be taken out of my own life. Often, the comedies or chick flicks I turn on are over exaggerations of my life, but if it was exactly like my life, it would be boring and I wouldn’t want to watch it.

I can try on the clothing and see it on myself, so I’ll know how it will look on me anyway. I want to see how it looks in a blown up picture with wings or perfectly styled accessories. I don’t need a model to show me how it will look on myself — that is why there are fitting rooms.

The definition of beauty will constantly change, but healthy standards will not.

Many women today reference pictures of Marilyn Monroe and other stars of her time as what “real women” look like.

Monroe apparently used hormone cream on her face to whiten her skin, and her weight changed regularly during her roles, according to an article in “Examiner,” an online magazine about arts and entertainment, news, etc.

Those manipulations are hardly healthy.

Today, medical experts know more about what fat and hormone imbalances can do to the body. Medical recommendations for a certain body mass index have not changed despite a higher growing obese population in the U.S.

Subcutaneous fat, the fat you can grab, and visceral fat, the fat that can surround your organs, is not healthy.

Fat does not depreciate your womanhood, but it should not enhance it either.

Living longer and healthier should be the goal.

Rather than celebrating “real women” who have to be “curvy” in order to be someone you see on the street, we should celebrate healthy women who care about their bodies and their minds.

Personally I am a 5-foot-8-inch, 120 pound woman and I am sick of my curvy friends making me feel to blame for their lowered self-confidence.

I try to ignore their comments of why I can get more guys because of my body type.

I know how to dress my body and can carry on a well-rounded conversation and have had plenty of larger friends who can do the same.

Defining what a real woman is, rather than just living is exhausting and a waste of time.

How can this issue become so complicated when it is simple: just be. Be a woman.


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Comments (7)

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  1. Abbey says:

    Did you think before you wrote this? Your logic rivals Karen’s from Mean Girls.

    Also, I would like to know what a “well-rounded conversation” is comprised of and how you’ve managed to turn a body positive campaign into a chance to whine about being a skinny white girl. I bet you think reverse racism is a thing and “feminist” is a dirty word.

    You should give Fox a call when Megyn Kelly needs replaced.

  2. Deb says:

    First let me say I’m 5’10 and my military nickname was “Gracie (Jones)!” I hated my “skinny” height and weight but my friends were sooooo jealous! My daughters are short and MAD (don’t ask me what happened my ex is tall hahaha)! NOW I understand why my friends hated my size because now I look GREAT in clothes and stand taller so everyone can see! I hate the Dove “big” girls campaign because when I watched Naomi, Iman etc. I want to look like them in my clothes!!! This encourages me to exercise and eat healthy. There is no such thing as a real woman!!!!! I remember the day when my former buckeye student athlete asked me in high school “Mom can you afford to get me braces and my hair done (hint hint Gabby Douglas)?” Now she looks at her Osu media pics and says to me THANK YOU!!!! EVERYONE wants to feel good about themselves!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ignore the hate. This is a great article. The phrase “skinny white girl” has been used much lately to marginalized a population perfectly worthy of sharing their experiences. Thank you for sharing yours, and I happen to agree with you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Personally I am a 5-foot-8-inch, 120 pound woman and I am sick of my curvy friends making me feel to blame for their lowered self-confidence.”

    Awww poor you. Your life must be so terrible!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you are truly 120 pounds and 5’8″, you are a bit underweight according to BMI (which addmitedly isn’t always the best standard). But it should be noted that some body fat is necessary for good health and optimal functioning of the body.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have similar issues as far as being made to feel at fault for other people’s insecurities. I’ve been made fun of and called a man because I’m thin and flat chested. Even though looking like a model is supposed to be desirable, women are awful to each other regardless of what shape they are in. I think anyone hating on this article is kind of missing the main point here. You aren’t saying that it is so much worse for you to feel bad than it is for “curvy” girls to feel bad; you’re saying that we shouldn’t make any woman feel worse just so others can feel better. That’s my interpretation at least.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think the campaign is great. Its not about being curvy or a true woman in the way you’re phrasing it. It’s about being comfortable with yourself in whatever size you may be whether you are skinny or larger or shorter or taller. What is wrong with that? It makes me feel good about the way I look. I like how they aren’t being Photoshopped. They are real and they are beautiful.

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