Aerie's No-Photoshop Policy Helped Boost Sales, So I Guess Airbrushing Doesn't Help Businesses All That Much (Surprise, Surprise)
Almost a year ago, American Eagle announced that underwear brand Aerie would be saying goodbye to Photoshop with Aerie Real, an ad campaign that pledged to leave all promotional materials un-retouched moving forward. As a huge (read: obsessive) fan of Aerie's comfy and adorable undergarments, I was pretty pumped by the news. And it seems other ladies are with me, because Aerie's sales have increased since they did away with airbrushing.
According to Business Insider, "sales of Aerie lingerie soared 9 percent last quarter," indicating that perhaps women actually like seeing somewhat accurate representations of themselves in advertising. Who would've thought? Although most of the Aerie models are still conventionally beautiful and quite thin, so-called "imperfections" are left visible.
"We left beauty marks, we left tattoos — what you see is really what you get with our campaign," brand representative Jenny Altman told Good Morning America back when Aerie Real first launched in January. While some, including Bustle's own Emma Cueto, have rightly objected to the fact that Aerie isn't actually challenging traditional ideals by continuing to cast girls that look like models instead of, well, average girls, I stand by the brand's ballsy endeavor to stop perpetuating impossible standards of beauty.
Naturally, American Eagle is a company and their primary objective is to sell clothing and accessories. But I'm not going to fault them for doing their jobs well, especially if it means I get to see a few more blemishes and wrinkles and women with actual boobs when I flip through the advertisements in a magazine.
More and more companies have been challenging the industry standard to Photoshop women until they barely look human, and it seems to be paying off for each of them (again, not surprised). Aside from Aerie Real, there's Dove Real Beauty, and, perhaps best of all, Dear Kate's "Ada Collection" campaign featuring women in tech.
If more brands notice that ditching the fake-as-hell airbrushing actually helps rather than hurts sales, perhaps they'll follow suit. For now, I'll be getting my cute undies at Aerie because at least they know there's no such thing as one "perfect" body.