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Aerie's decision not to photoshop models should be adopted by others

By Aysha Mahmood
On May 1, 2014

American Eagle Outfitters recently released a line in which their ads had absolutely no Photoshop, a first for women's beauty magazines. The line, Aerie showed women with beauty marks, scars, tattoos and curve lines. The ads, Aerie states are "challenging supermodel standards by featuring unretouched models." I hope these ads give the company's mean demographic of 15-21 year olds a renewed sense of self-esteem and confidence. In a world where teens are constantly pressured to look a certain way, it's rather refreshing to see a company, and a rather popular one at that, take the lead and portray women the way they actually look.
All clothing ads need to follow Aerie's lead and stop photoshopping pictures to set realistic beauty standards for women. The question of how much these ads harm their viewers sometimes comes into question. Jean Kilbourne, a researcher who studies the effects of ads on society, released a series of documentaries in which she draws the connection between ads and their effect on society. "Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy," she says. "To a great extent, they tell us who we are and who we should be."
Teens and adults need to be presented with realistic beauty standards and any ad that's photoshopped makes it impossible for them to feel confident about who they are and accept what they look like. It's important to note that these harmful ads don't just apply to young women, but they also affect men as well. While women are expected to look skinny, sexy and flawless, men are expected to look muscular, strong and fit. Any deviation from masculinity or gender roles in general is frowned down upon.
At a time in which children are prone to anorexia and bulimia, ads of unrealistic beauty standards increase the pressure to look thin. It's important to note that not even the people on the magazines look like the people on the magazines. They are all photoshopped; their skin is blemish free, their complexion is brightened, their fat is cropped off. For any company to make the decision to stop photo shopping is huge.
However, what Aerie didn't include its ads were women who were larger than a size 0 or women who weren't white. A few other clothing stores, such as Verily, have also followed in aeries lead in eliminating Photoshop to their ads, but the ads need to include women who are of all sizes and ethnicities.
Although the no photoshopping is a huge step for Aerie, the company still has a long way to go before it can say it accurately portrays real women. Their ads need to include women that are sizes larger than a size 0 and also, women of different nationalities. Only having skinny white women on ads make those of larger sizes and different races feel as though they still have to look a certain way. If Aerie is able to fix this sole flaw in their marketing, they will be able to change the way people think about their bodies. People will be more comfortable in their skin and self-esteem levels will rise.
It doesn't seem like ads should affect us that much, but as Kilbourne stated, ads sell more than products. When people see pictures of ads of beautiful women and big strong, men, they automatically compare themselves to that person. Comparisons need to seize to exist. If ads are going to sell anything more they need to sell us the idea to be comfortable with our own bodies. 


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