Iskra-Lawrence ‘Share Your Spark’ AerieReal campaign (Glamour)
It used to be that brands only used tall, skinny, (mostly) blonde girl in their advertising. This was thought to be aspirational: You wanted to be the girl in the photo, and how best to be that? Buy their clothes (or perfume, or lingerie, or whatever the brand was selling). But the pursuit of one aspirational body type led those who didn’t possess said body type (either by genetic luck-of-the-draw or by carefully-chosen enhancements) to believe themselves unworthy and maybe inferior.
Thankfully, that trend is on its way out. The current thing (which, I hope, stays) is all about positivity and accepting yourself as you are, because you are enough. For women’s brands, this has translated to, among other things, banning Photoshop.
This month, Glamour released its all-women, no Photoshop issue. The magazine’s staff has gone all-in on banning photo retouching: A quick glance at the “Girls” cast on the cover, and you can see that the cellulite on Lena Dunham’s thigh hasn’t been wiped out. And why should it? It’s just a natural part of life.
In January 2014, American Eagle’s underwear brand Aerie launched its #AerieReal campaign, featuring models of all shapes and sizes and no Photoshopping. The intimates brand is aimed at girls ages 15-22, and the campaign has been used to promote body acceptance, positivity and confidence.
Aerie’s gamble has paid off exponentially: Q2 2014 sales were up 9% from the previous quarter, and continued to grow for the rest of the year. In 2015, sales were up by 20%, with Q4 2015 seeing a 26% increase year-over-year. And sales in Q1 2016 were up 32%.
Body acceptance and positivity has also bled into regular women’s lives, and features prominently on social media. Searching #nophotoshop on Instagram brings up 460K+ posts.It’s clear that this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.