These Lingerie Ads Pride Themselves in Using Unretouched Photos, But Are They Really Less Damaging?
I’m a dude who wears jeans and t-shirts and baseball caps and isn’t all that concerned about my self-image because I’m married (I won!) and I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over puckers or stray hairs or whatever it is that people with self-image issues obsess over, so I may be the wrong type of person (of the wrong gender) to critique these lingerie ads from underwear maker Aerie. The ads take pride in the fact that they don’t use retouched photos, nor do they use supermodels, insisting that the real you is sexy.
It’s a nice gesture, and the campaign definitely seems to have its heart in the right place (kind of), but I think if I were a normal 17 year old woman looking at these photos, I might feel even worse about myself, because I wouldn’t be able to at least fall back on the thought that the women in these ads have been airbrushed to perfection. While glossy retouched magazine ads might create unrealistic expectations, these ads seem to suggest realistic expectations, and if I weren’t able to live up to the image of these near-perfect bodies, maybe I’d feel even more depressed.
I mean, it’s a nice thought to abandon retouching in the service of commerce, but if you’re using blemish-free women with defined abs, gravity-defying behinds, and perfectly symmetrical shapes, it seems to me that the campaign might be suggesting that the “real you is sexy,” as long as you look like these near-perfect non-models with impeccable teeth, no wrinkles, and not a goddamn mole on their bodies.
There are plenty of 40-year old women who have had a kid and haven’t slept in two years as they try to juggle kids and a career who would look damn sexy in that lingerie, and wouldn’t it be nice if these “real” women were more reflective of actual women? But again, what do I know? I’m a dude wearing a holey sweater, and I would look terrible in a bikini.