"The bottom line is being confident and owning the skin that you’re in is the sexiest thing you could do." --Erica Aguilar
I'm excited to feature this special article celebrating real beauty by 19-year-old Erica Aguilar...
Sometimes, we really can’t appreciate ourselves. It’s not a disease or a condition. It just is what it is, but there are ways to help stop this. Being 19 years old, I believe it’s worse among teens. Pressures are all around us: our favorite magazines plastering photoshopped images of our favorite female celebrities on their covers. Everywhere teen girls look--ads for our favorite clothing lines, tiny mannequins, TV shows, movies, fashion shows, ads for makeup, shampoos, curling irons, you name it--are perfect, size-zero, air-brushed models for everything. It’s as if teenage girls are supposed to have flat tummies, long perfect hair, a “thigh gap” (for those who don’t know, it is having a gap between girls' legs while they stand with their feet together), and a nice pair of breasts in proportion to the perfect butt. Sadly, though, these girls are not real.
American Eagle’s own lingerie and apparel line called Aerie has suddenly decided that they are no longer going to use “super models” or photoshop the girls they are using for their advertisements. For a while, on Instagram they only posted quotes from celebrities and regular girls on what being real meant to them and how they truly are beautiful. They had pictures of some girls who were “real.” They still were nicely thin and had the perfect shades of skin with no imperfections. Sure, some girls out there really seem perfect: with being naturally thin and having bright eyes and long hair and smooth skin, but it still wasn’t really real. It wasn’t until about a week ago they shocked everyone with actually posting a picture that caught everyone’s attention...
Her back is facing the camera, but she is turned enough towards it that you can see half of her face. The camera is zoomed in on her but not drastically. The tropical background is blurred out of focus. She is a young girl, possibly in her early twenties, with curly dark brown hair with light brown highlights and a sweet, white smile. The general point of view is on her; you start from the top to get a look at her face and move down to her body to see what she’s wearing by the company. She’s in a bright green bandeau with a lace trim and in their “cheeky” panty that’s a nice ocean blue color, with a pattern of fun seahorses and a lace trim as well. In actuality, though, what they really want you to look at is much more than what she’s wearing. Her bare bottom, hips, and part of her leg show actual stretch marks. Her back isn’t perfectly smooth or one tone of color. She looks like your normal, average real girl. Many young women responded with positive comments and thanked the company for actually coming through with what they were trying to represent: that real girls are beautiful.
American Eagle's website also now has other models that have a much more natural look to them. One girl whose face you can’t see in the picture is also showing a pair of their “cheeky” panty and a fun lacey bra. Although she seems like one of those naturally thin and pretty girls, on her back you can spot a patch of what looks like a red birth mark, and her arms have creases. This would be something they could easily take out and give her the perfect back and arms, but they decided to stick to their word again and not drastically change her.
The more you browse American Eagle's website, the more you see more beautiful girls but who really haven’t been retouched. Their elbows are natural and wrinkled. They have some cellulite on their legs and bums. They have freckles everywhere or other birth marks or scars that have made them who they are.
"The more you browse American Eagle's website, the more you see more beautiful girls but who really haven’t been retouched. Their elbows are natural and wrinkled. They have some cellulite on their legs and bums. They have freckles everywhere or other birth marks or scars that have made them who they are."
If you click to shop their swim line, right away you see a caption next to a model on a sandy beach with the perfect clear water waves, and it reads “summer is here. Whether you’re flat as a surfboard, or curvy like a coconut, there’s no such thing as a perfect beach body.” Although it is a cheesy, catchy caption that anyone could put to try and promote real beauty, I know I paused for a second. Every girl is hesitant at some point to wear a swimsuit when summer comes around. They feel completely naked and believe that everyone is only going to see the flaws that they see in themselves. Simply reading that caption gave me a little spirit. I did actually believe that no real woman has the perfect beach body. Every woman has their flaws, but nothing should hold me back from going out in a swimsuit this summer.
The bottom line is being confident and owning the skin that you’re in is the sexiest thing you could do. As cliché as that might sound, it is the truth. Aerie has been pushing for this change, and they have shown light into what real beauty is. They don’t need tear-jerking commercials or frightening time-sped images of someone photoshopping a girl. It’s simple: all they need is ads that show real girls with occasional quotes such as “the real you is sexy.” This is possibly one of the first “real beauty” campaigns I’ve seen that doesn't push too hard to expose what they are doing.
If girls want to shop the American Eagle company or have before, it’s a positive from the company that will want girls to keep shopping because of what they are supporting. Aerie trumps others like Victoria’s Secret “Love your body” campaign by a million because they are gaining more customers like me: a real 19-year-old girl who shouldn't feel ashamed of my body because I do not look like a big time model like Miranda Kerr; I should be confident and proud that I am real and not photoshopped.
by Erica Aguilar
Comment from OMF:
Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring article, Erica. I love seeing the movement toward using real, unphotoshopped girls & women as models! I think people have had enough of false, rail-thin models. I'm glad
American Eagle is leading the way for other stores.
Aerie's Real movement was also discussed on Good Morning America, on E! News, & on Twitter: #aeriereal
For more info, click here.