Clothing Label Teams Up With Eating Disorder Org. To Promote Healthy Body Standards

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At the beginning of 2014, American Eagle’s offshoot brand Aerie Lingerie launched a campaign called #AerieReal which featured a series of women who weren’t supermodels, who weren’t retouched and who touted the all-important message that women are sexy and beautiful the way they are. No need to change or fit into an industry mold just to feel or look good in lingerie.

It seems that was probably the smartest decision American Eagle has made lately, given the current climate of trending body positive campaigns. Over the past year AE saw an overall decline of 7% in sales but Aerie’s second quarter sales actually rose by 9% compared to a decrease of 2% at the same time the previous year.

If numbers are any indication of what to go by, Aerie is onto a good thing. Their latest move in the body positive market within consumer fashion is teaming up with a major eating disorder organization to lead the way in promoting healthy body ideals in the industry.

They have have become a key sponsor of the non-profit National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) specifically for their Eating Disorder Awareness Week walk awareness program NEDA Walk. Save a Life, which raises funds for advocacy and educational programs, spreads awareness about the seriousness of eating disorders and provides support for the local community.

They hold more than 65 walks across the US every year in a bid to educate people on what a horrible and rampant disease an eating disorder is.

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“This can be a significant game changer for the fashion and advertising industries. We know that over-the-top ads promoting extreme thinness and non-stop diet promises send a message to teens and young adults suggesting that they are not good enough – translation: not thin enough – and sadly fuels the fire of low self-esteem. Research has shown that low self- esteem is a serious precursor to unhealthy eating behaviors and eating disorders,” said Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA.

She said their Aerie Real campaign shows a commitment to being responsible for change and hopes that other industry leaders will follow what they are doing.

“We look forward to joining thousands of young women in supporting NEDA at walks across the country and to sharing resources and information with our customers to help reduce the stigma often associated with eating disorders,” said Jennifer Foyle, chief merchandising officer of the Aerie brand about the partnership.

According to statistics, an eating disorder is not gender specific, even though Aerie’s lingerie campaigns are targeted at women. In the US alone 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives, including anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness. That should give you some kind of an indication of how serious this issue is in our society today.

“69% of American elementary schoolgirls who read magazines say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape and 47 percent say the pictures make them want to lose weight. It is estimated that, in the U.S., 19% of adults and 3% of children are on a diet on any given day. 42% of first-through-third-grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. More than half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives. Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over one-third report dieting.”

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Those are some of the facts shared by the press release about this campaign.

In conjunction with this campaign, NEDA has added a social media component, given that social networks have been a huge hub for many negative messages surrounding body image and eating disorders. Together with the organization Proud2beme, they have created the hashtag #loveyourrealselfie in the hopes that many social media users will actively promote healthier messages on their platforms.

Instagram currently has 200 million monthly active users, 20 billion total photos, and 1.6 billion likes on 60 million photos shared every day.  These photos help us document our daily lives, show off our newest outfits, favorite pets, and delicious meals. But Instagram can also be used to do so much more, to create change and spread self-love and body positivity,” writes Michelle Zaydin who is a college senior.
The idea is that they want everyone to upload a photo or share a status promoting self-love and enjoying the beauty in everyday life, and use the designated hashtag.
In this day and age of digital activism where hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter, #yesallwomen and #askhermore have the power to create social movements and infiltrate our consciences in the hope we will all start to think critically about series issues, the Aerie-NEDA-Proud2beme campaign is a major step in the right direction for fashion and body image.
If you or someone you know is currently battling an eating disorder of some kind, we highly encourage you to talk to someone you trust, contact us so we can point you in the right direction, or contact NEDA (in the US only) to find resources that an help and assist you on the journey to recovery.
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  1. Pingback: ED's and Bullying, Orthorexia, Bullying, Yoga and More - Sunday Link Love #31 | Allison Bryant

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