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American Eagle's #AerieMan Campaign was a Prank, But it Started an Important Conversation

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In terms of prank campaigns, this might have been the craziest April Fools yet. Everyone seemed to be getting in on the act, and some even managed to make important points in the process. Fashion company American Eagle made news a while back when they pledged to stop airbrushing ad images for its lingerie arm - Aerie, and to just show women as they are.

The #AerieREAL campaign saw a massive spike in sales and praise, so on Friday they extended it, adding on '#AerieMan'. The ads featured a group of 'normal' looking men modelling the underwear range with their hairy chests and beer guts on full display. It went down pretty well, but then American Eagle revealed the truth - it was their April Fools Day prank.

Does that mean that they don't take the idea of showing real men modelling their range seriously, though? Evidently not, as the company revealed that they would now stop airbrushing male models as well, and were also donated $25,000 to the National Eating Disorder Association.

One might argue that men don't need the boost of body positivity in the same way that women do. Indeed, whilst many other publications had nothing but praise for this campaign, joke or otherwise, The Cut pointed out that "the world is full of examples that prove a man can be 20 pounds overweight or slightly asymmetrical and still be accepted by society." They pointed to another article which examined TV and film's long history of pairing older, larger or otherwise conventionally unattractive men with gorgeous women, and noted that it almost never happens the other way around (The Vicar of Dibley is the only example I can think of off the top of my head).

Taking Aerie's other work into account, though, that complaint can't really ascend beyond nitpick level. Aerie have made a point of hiring models of all shapes and sizes, and promoting them equally. Their biggest success story in that regard has been Iskra Lawrence, who was dropped from her previous agency in her teens because her hips were thought to be too wide. She couldn't get any work as a plus-size either, because she was considered too small, but Aerie took her on in spite of that, and she's since become their most well known model. She even features in some of the #AerieMan ads.

Lawrence has since become a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorder Association as well, just another factor in their ongoing partnership. Body positivity is a universal idea, and although one could argue that it's more important for women than it is for men, one does not invalidate the other.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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American Eagle's #AerieMan Campaign was a Prank, But it Started an Important Conversation Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, April 04, 2016 Rating: 5

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