Magazines, television shows, and social media sites like Instagram bombard people with messages on how they “should” look, what new exercise regimen they “should” adopt, and what fad diet they “should” try. These messages, while seemingly harmless, bring up a broader issue: images of stick-thin models laughing, seemingly-candidly and selfies from fitness gurus with rippling muscles promoting detox teas communicate to people that that is how they “should” look, and they are not good enough as they are. Thankfully, there are images that counteract these harmful messages. Aerie, a brand of clothing, recently embarked on a campaign called Aerie Real. This campaign features models of different sizes without using photoshop to “perfect” their bodies or faces.
Instead of having models with identical slim figures that appear flawless, Aerie is now featuring models like Iskra Lawrence, a model with a curvier build who advocates for eating disorder awareness. They also do not retouch photos. If a model has freckles or a scar, it is visible. Thanks to Aerie, models now mirror society a little more realistically. The models have different shapes, and do not always appear to be flawless.
While my eating disorder was caused by depression, anxiety, and environmental factors, constantly being bombarded with images of “perfect women” whether they are skinny or “fit” and muscular, does not help me recover. It actually makes recovery more challenging, as it reinforces my preexisting body images issues. Luckily, some people have decided to change the messages the media sends. Aerie gives me hope that women will see more diverse models in the future.