Gina Vaynshteyn
January 27, 2014 2:00 pm

I’m not going to lie: the look of horror and distress is immediately visible on my face the second I start trying stuff on in a Victoria’s Secret fitting room. For some brilliant reason, fitting rooms always have this terrible light that seems to cling on to every extra pound, so trying on bras and bikinis is always one of the most dreaded parts of the year.  I don’t even feel that uncomfortable with my body, but before I can even step foot inside any lingerie store, I’m confronted with these gorgeous, half-naked super models plastered on the shop windows who can look sexy in garbage bags, let alone lacy corsets and thongs.

It’s not even that these models look incredible in underwear; it’s that they glow, and they’re absolutely radiant. They’re almost, what’s the word I’m looking for…unreal. Yeah. That’s it. Their bodies are comprised of unattainable elements (thank you, Photoshop) which translate into perfect D cups paired with toned abs and thighs.  No wonder I start to have a panic attack in the panty section. I will never look like these women even if I buy a thousand Very Sexy bras and lacy panties because my body just doesn’t look like those advertisements. It never will. I don’t have effortless cleavage, I’m not toned, and I’m so pale I worry about my vitamin D levels. But you know what? Most of us don’t look like lingerie ads. Because lingerie ads aren’t the real thing.

Aerie, American Eagle’s sister brand, started a new campaign that promotes real girls wearing real underwear, and they look really good. Marketed towards teenagers and young adults, Aerie rejects the way models are fictitiously portrayed in order to sell a product. Instead of using a photo of a girl that has been Photoshopped to look synthetically glossy, smooth, and perfectly symmetrical, Aerie leaves the depiction of their models untouched. Sure, the models are wearing makeup and they’re photographed in flattering positions, but what you see is what you get. The best part is that these models are actually smiling! They don’t all look like they’re having sex with the camera. They genuinely look like they’re having a good time. The copy on the ad says,  “The girl in this photo has not been retouched. The real you is sexy.” Can I get an amen for that?

What Aerie is doing, is what every lingerie brand, what every brand period, should do. Besides using models that actually look like real human beings, companies should promote their girls just as they are. Models shouldn’t be digitally altered, because that creates a message that all young women need to be flawless. And we’re just not. Some of us have big butts, small butts, thick thighs, birth marks, small boobs, way-too-big boobs, whatever. We’re a society that is highly critical of our bodies because we have been subconsciously trained to understand what the idealized definition of “perfection” is since we were young.

It’s tremendously refreshing that someone is finally calling out all the bullsh*t lingerie brands pull and creating a message that can reach all young women. You don’t need to strive for a perfection that is created by computers. You should love your body because it’s authentic. Love it because it’s real, and it love it because it’s you.

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