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When American Eagle stopped airbrushing its models, sales spiked

Turns out stores don’t need impossibly beautiful photoshopped people to sell clothes.

via American Eagle

A year and a half ago, American Eagle's lingerie line, Aerie, stopped retouching, airbrushing, and photoshopping the models in its ads. The fashion line also quit hiring girls with supermodel bodies in favor of those with natural-looking figures. If the models had any tattoos, beauty marks, or blemishes those would now remain visible, too. These big changes in marketing had to mean the end was near for Aerie, right? Could real-looking women actually sell lingerie? A conference call last year revealed the change helped Aerie's sales jump 10 percent.

Aerie's Chief Merchandising Officer, Jennifer Foyle, said, “The purpose of 'Aerie Real' is to communicate there is no need to retouch beauty, and to give young women of all shapes and sizes the chance to discover amazing styles that work best for them...We want to help empower young women to be confident in themselves and their bodies."

In addition to affirmation from the marketplace, accolades are coming in from other places, too. This year, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) awarded the #AerieReal campaign its first NEDA Inspires "Seal of Approval." “The fashion industry has always been a huge part of the portrayal of unrealistic beauty ideals in our society," the NEDA said in its release. “Many companies photoshop their models to extremely unrealistic 'perfect' bodies, which influences many people to believe they are not good enough."

Aerie's belief in showing real-looking women extends to its Instagram photos as well.

Images via Instagram

Will American Eagle's success with its Aerie line push other fashion marketers to do away with the ultra-skinny models or at least start feeding them before photo shoots? According to Foyle, American Eagle isn't backing down anytime soon. “Aerie is committed to challenging supermodel standards to spark a conversation with the fashion industry and champion consumers with the true meaning of real and unretouched beauty. We are proud of our partnership with NEDA and hope others will join us in creating authentic advertising and marketing."

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