It's 'real' women, really this time

RACHEL CLUN
Last updated 09:42 23/01/2014
lingerie

REAL WOMEN: Yes, Aerie's models are stunning, but their very-normal stretch marks and blemishes haven't been digitally washed off.

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American lingerie company Aerie is the latest brand to vow to only show real and unairbrushed women, stating that "the real you is sexy".

Aerie, sister company to American Eagle, launched their 2014 Spring campaign with models who are not Photoshopped, saying it's time to "get real". The models have tattoos, and "imperfections" have been left, showing customers Aerie's products on models who look more like the average woman.

It's not the first time a company has used "real" women in unaltered images to sell their products. Dove launched their "real beauty" campaign in 2004, showing models outside of the industry's normal standards of size and beauty. The big difference with the Aerie campaign, however, is their market.

Aerie's lingerie lines are aimed at young women between the ages of 15 and 21. Studies have shown women in this age bracket are particularly vulnerable to messages about body image, which they usually glean from magazines and advertising.

Associate Professor Suzanne Abraham, from Sydney Medical School, says while the message is positive the campaign might not have much of an actual effect.

"Teenage women are aware of the fact that photos are touched up," says Abraham.

"It's a good thing they're doing it and it's a really positive message," says Abraham, "but I'm not sure if it will have an effect as most teenagers are aware images are touched up."

Abraham says particularly when it comes to eating disorders there are a whole host of different factors involved.

"How big a part the media plays in that is not huge; it's not the whole story," says Abraham.

Still, the effort Aerie has made to counter the popular, heavily edited, Victoria's Secret-style image of lingerie models can only be a positive thing - even if their beautiful models hardly need to be airbrushed in the first place.

Aerie is by no means overthrowing the system - the models in this campaign are still young, gorgeous and thin, but they have hips and tummies and haven't been stretched, moulded and beautified to the point where the images have become unrelatable.

And in further efforts to cut the bull, Aerie also plans to improve its website by featuring different body types wearing different cup sizes. That means not using the same headless, poreless, standard-sized model to sell every product in its catalogue - a move that is sure to help online shoppers make more informed product purchases. A round of applause for Aerie - let's hope they keep it up once the next catalogue rolls round.

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There has been a lot of talk in the media about airbrushing recently, after feminist website Jezebel offered a $NZ12,500 reward for the unretouched, original images from Lena Dunham's shoot for Vogue's February issue.

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When Jezebel got hold of the images and triumphantly published them, the response was lukewarm. Jezebel ended up coming under fire for singling out the Girls creator as their target, with former editor Anna Holmes admitting she was surprised at the website's stunt.

Vogue was alternately praised for showing off a woman who doesn't fit the supermodel body type. In fact, apart from removing blemishes and adjusting lighting, Vogue refrained from altering the silhouette of Dunham, who is publicly accepting of her non-supermodel image.

Dunham took to Twitter to thank the magazine for her interview and photo shoot, also thanking supporters for accepting her as she is. Dunham spoke to Slate France about being confused at the outrage caused by her pictures.

"I don't understand why, Photoshop or no, having a girl who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing," says Dunham

- Sydney Morning Herald

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