In recent years we’ve seen a lot of companies attempting to become more inclusive, either by featuring plus size models or by no longer retouching their photos. But if other brands have started to gradually dip their toes into diversity and body-positive messaging, Aerie has jumped right in–cannonballed, in fact.
In 2014, the #AerieREAL campaign was launched and for the first time, the company released images that hadn’t been airbrushed. It was a huge statement and one that earned the brand a lot of new fans. Ever since, Aerie has continued to challenge norms by releasing advertisements that push back against the stereotypical ‘supermodel’ mould.
#AerieREAL has continued to evolve over the years and this week, they released some pretty special images. In this new campaign, the brand decided to feature not just models of all sizes, but women with disabilities and chronic illnesses. There are women in wheelchairs and on crutches, women with vitiligo and Downs Syndrome, each one exuding confidence in her Aerie lingerie, proving that their disabilities or ailments don’t have to define them.
Response to the campaign has been incredibly positive, with many people thanking the company for helping to break down the fashion industry’s rigid beauty standards.
“As a brand, Aerie has been a leader in empowering women and celebrating inclusivity and body positivity since our launch of #AerieREAL in 2014. Our newest bra models are part of our brand’s ongoing commitment to show real, authentic and un-retouched women, who are at the core of everything we do,” said Jennifer Foyle, Global Brand President of the company.
To find this cast of models, Aerie used social media to reach out to the public. They asked their followers to create videos explaining why they wanted to be part of the next #AerieREAL campaign and close to 2,000 women responded.
One model, Abby Sams, talked to HuffPost about how she scored a spot, saying “I sent them a video saying how, as someone who’s never seen disability or chronic illness represented in media, Aerie Real should mean that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and abilities.” Sams shared photographs of her posing proudly in her wheelchair over Twitter on Tuesday.