Aerie making waves with average-bodied

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Lee Ann Pelletier

“The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.”

Hair too perfect, skin too smooth, her face isn’t wrinkled, though I bet she had to smile for that picture a dozen times already. She’s stick thin, and not a mark is on her skin. You get the impression that she hasn’t lived but materialized out of the mind of the photographer.

We look at this and feel ashamed. Our skin is dry, chapped, blotchy, puffy from lack of sleep; our hair is static electricity, standing on end, knotted; our foreheads are wrinkled, grooves deepening as we laugh and frown.

We cannot help but live.

But when we are bombarded by Photoshopped perfection, we internalize this as reality. As we naturally collect pimples and scars, we are simultaneously told that we are wrong, that we are supposed to be perfect.

However, the Aerie Real campaign is blaring out the truth. Barbie Ferreira is a 19-year-old, size-12 model whose photos are unedited and absolutely glorious.

Aerie, American Eagle’s swimsuit and loungewear line, released new photos of Ferreira, a social media icon, modeling swimsuits. She is the first full-figured model for the company.

“What makes me #aeriereal is that I’m unapologetic to be myself,” said Ferreira in Aerie’s “Real Talk” YouTube video. “Not being retouched in the images is something that is very important to me, [and so is] people knowing that that’s what I look like without anyone’s perception of what my body needs to look like.”

To Ferreira, this campaign is a huge step in helping all women battle the stereotypes of what they should look like.

“I just want to make sure girls know they don’t have to carry the weight of achieving nearly impossible standards on their shoulders every day,” the model told Elle.

To contrast, Calvin Klein recently released photos of their first plus-sized model, Myla Dalbesio. The angle of the photo makes her stomach clearly visible, but…what stomach?

“You get used to calling yourself a plus-size model when you’re not,” Dalbesio told Daily Mail. “It has been hard. I can never figure out where I fit in, and I’m always making someone mad. I’m not skinny-skinny, but I’m not fat and fabulous either. I’m a size 10.”

This has outraged many people, who see Dalbesio as an average weight. It reminds me of Calvin Klein’s anorexia fascination in the 90s, so that now their standards of being plus-sized are also made skinnier.

Dalbesio adds, “But if you’re a size six or 10, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see yourself represented too.”

My issue is that being in the middle of the spectrum should not be labeled as plus-sized. Calvin Klein should represent a variety of body types, but the model should be an accurate representation.

Aerie and Calvin Klein have both added a new “plus-sized” model to their shoots. Both companies seem to have a different outlook on what that means. Aerie’s seems to be much healthier and focused on the way we view ourselves rather than how we view others.

So what’s in store for the future?

“Curvy and plus-size models will just be models once it becomes more normalized and we get more representation,” Ferreira told Time.

Now that’s a future we can all get behind.

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