On April 1, Aerie, whose parent company is American Eagle Outfitters, released a photo campaign featuring men of diverse body types called “#AerieMAN.” This campaign was taken seriously and lauded by many on the internet as a positive campaign to include men of body types other than the usual super-fit models.
That is, until the campaign was revealed to be a parody of the company’s own “#AerieReal” campaign, which included the company’s promise not to retouch any of the models for their underwear line. According to Aerie, releasing the campaign on April Fool’s Day was meant to raise awareness of the harsh body standards that men face. After the announcement, people took to Twitter in a rage against the clothing company.
Many felt that the release date of the “#AerieMAN” campaign made it out to be more of a joke than the company originally intended. To many, the idea of releasing a male body positivity campaign on a day for pranks and jokes made it seem like Aerie thought the idea of a male body positivity campaign was merely a laughing matter.
It would be one thing if they released the campaign as an actual campaign on its own, the way that “#AerieReal” was released. However, it was released as a parody, not a real campaign, which carries the connotation that the idea of a campaign like that couldn’t be more than just a joke.
Aeire may have had entirely good intentions with their campaign, and if they were to actually carry out “#AerieMAN” as a real campaign, they would most likely have the support of all of the people who are currently bashing them and their parody campaign on various social media sites.
In a world where people of all genders are held to high body standards, it’s important for clothing companies especially to want to spread positive images of people of all shapes and sizes so that everyone can feel comfortable being who they really are.