Aerie is putting their money where their bras are.
The American Eagle brand, which has long had a no-retouching policy, is doubling down with a new #AerieReal campaign showcasing models of all sizes and ethnicities, many with disabilities. Proudly showing off their figures in Aerie lingerie, there are women in wheelchairs and arm braces; photos show women posing with their insulin pumps and J-pouches.
The campaign was released with little fanfare, getting the same treatment as, well, any other rollout might.
Even the models who participated were surprised at Aerie’s stealth release.
“@Aerie just sneakily released some of my photos!” wrote user @abby_sams. “Look at this disability representation people!!! Also look at me because I cant believe it’s actually me so yeah.”
She added: “A cancer survivor, down syndrome paralympian, me, and fibromyalgia (+ body hair). Their work in chronic illness and disability representation this campaign was REAL and AMAZING.”
Aerie’s depiction of women won praise from advocacy groups.
“Check out this wonderful campaign by @aerie & @AEO featuring women with illness and disability. We hope that other brands will follow suit and make their campaigns more inclusive and representative of the world we live in,” tweeted non-profit Suffering the Silence.
The photos touched many who share the same diseases.
“Seeing this from the @Aerie website means so much to me,” tweeted @_madelynn101. “This model not only is beautiful, but has the same type of disease as me. I love seeing diverse representation.”
“OH MY GOD!!! THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’VE EVER SEEN MYSELF REPRESENTED IN A MODEL!!!!” tweeted @evquaymac.
“Yessssss I am crying happy tears to see this beautiful @Aerie model wearing her CGM and insulin pump! This is OUR normal living with type 1 diabetes and it’s so nice to see brands normalize it too,” wrote @amandadilella.
Some parents even thanked the brand.
“I literally cried when I saw this today. Thank you @Aerie for making my daughter a little less self conscious about her diabetes,” wrote @Mizz_j_smith.