Why Aerie Decided to Go Retouching-Free

Changing culture means engaging with culture and no brand is doing that better right now than Aerie and their #AerieREAL campaign. Partnering with them was a no-brainer because of their steadfast commitment to zero retouching of women used in their images. Sound familiar? 

Aerie, right along with Darling, believes that women are good enough exactly as they are, which is so refreshing to hear from a brand with as much social clout and exposure as they have. We’re hopeful that it’s only a matter of time before other brands follow suit, recognizing the incredible impact honestly and authentically portraying women’s bodies can have.

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We caught up with Torrey Acri, Aerie’s Senior Director of Copy and Brand Voice, and Stacey McCormick, Vice President of Aerie Marketing, to get the scoop on Aerie’s no-retouching policy and why they’re convinced #AerieReal is the only way to go.

Darling Magazine: What prompted Aerie’s decision to go retouching-free and when did it begin?

Torrey and Stacey: In 2014 we decided to launch a new campaign that reflected the views of our customer. Our girls wanted to see models that looked like them — bodies they could relate to. This was a movement that was happening all over, not just with Aerie, but instead of just listening we decided to take action. We decided to stop using “supermodels” and instead cast amazing women!

Opting to forgo retouching on our models was the icing on the #AerieREAL campaign. It has since become part of our everyday and we simply believe NO girl needs to retouch her images. There are so many things we need to worry about in the world, we don’t need to worry about our bodies and faces in picture. We believe we all need to feel good about our REAL selves.

balcony girls

DM: What does that policy encompass? (Pre-production and post-production of a photoshoot.)

Torrey and Stacey: All shoots are consistent and we created a set of standards that we always follow. We use beautiful lighting, locations and make overall color shifts from raw camera files — temperature, exposure, etc. Correcting product color or distracting background objects is also acceptable. But we never retouch our girls.

Not a hair, blemish, curve, bump or beauty mark. Nothing on our girls is changed or altered ever. As we always say, “No retouching on this girl!”

There are so many things we need to worry about in the world, we don’t need to worry about our bodies and faces in picture. We believe we all need to feel good about our REAL selves.

DM: Was there any backlash to that decision, either internally or externally, that you had to deal with?

Torrey and Stacey: Nothing but love for this decision!

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DM: How have your customers reacted and how have you seen your policy make a difference?

Torrey and Stacey: Again, all love. We have seen a steady growth in customer acquisition, traffic to stores, social and, of course, sales.

DM: What would you say to encourage other brands to join the #AerieREAL movement?

Torrey and Stacey: We encourage all brands to follow all along. We all have responsibilities to our customers to do the right thing and it starts with keeping it real.

This post is brought to you by Darling partner, Aerie. We’re proud to partner with brands that strive to create better, more realistic media for women. All thoughts and opinions remain Darling’s own.

Un-retouched Images provided by Aerie

This post is brought to you by the Darling Team! To learn more about who we are, please visit our Meet Our Team page.

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