For the latest campaign of American Eagle Outfitters’ swimwear and underwear line Aerie, the company has broken with fashion industry tradition and hired a plus-size model. The retail chain has already prohibited the photoshopping of marketing material for its campaign #AerieREAL for the past two years; however, this set of promotional images are the first to use a plus-size model. According to Aerie’s global brand president Jen Foyle, the company picked model Barbie Ferreira because she, “embraces her real self.”
Foyle stated her goal was to “promote the idea that it’s okay to look like yourself.” Rather than focusing on a physical ideal, the brand is encouraging its customers (typically teen girls) to accept their bodies as they are now.
While obesity is far from healthy and can be a precursor to many diseases, so-called “plus-size” models are often within healthy body weight ranges. Not all healthy bodies look like models, and in many cases, the model look represents an unhealthily low body weight. The fashion industry has been guilty of causing millions of women and girls to embark on a life-long quest to become thinner, even at the expense of their health. This has resulted in the prevalence of unsafe dieting and eating disorders.
Eating disorders and extreme diets carry many health risks, including fatigue, hair loss, seizures, heart problems, osteoporosis, and nutrient deficiencies, to name a few.
Body-positive campaigns, like the new Aerie campaign, represent the first step toward a more realistic representation of health and beauty. Although a few retailers and fashion designers have begun to embrace a variety of body types in their marketing campaigns, most fashion brands continue to use waif-like models. Until the vast majority of retailers promote a diversified beauty ideal, girls and women will continue to suffer.
Brenda is a writer, chef and health nut with many years of writing experience in the alternative health industry. She specializes in health news, healthy living, alternative treatments, and healthy recipes. She loves educating others about sustainable, healthy living. Brenda lives in Texas with her husband and two daughters.