Culture / Fashion

What’s happening in advertising?

By Katie Olson

Advertising has long promoted the promise of status in a seemingly unattainable club. If you wear these Nikes, you’ll play like Kobe. If you drive this car, you’ll have a happier family. If you use this phone, you’ll have a more organized and functional life.

And we buy into it.

But recently, a shift has been taking place in the advertising world. People are beginning to question why they were ever trying to buy membership into this unobtainable club of consumerism.

For example, American Eagle’s lingerie line, Aerie, has decided to opt out of retouching their campaign photos with Photoshop. The campaign uses the slogan, “The real you is sexy.”

The brand’s director of marketing, Dana Seguin says, “This is now our brand, it’s not a seasonal campaign for us. It is now how we’re talking to our customers.”

The ads are aimed to make customers feel more at peace with their own bodies when they look in the mirror. In Aerie’s online store, there isn’t just one A-cup sized model wearing a bra. The site features various pictures of girls with different body types modeling different sizes of lingerie. This helps the client imagine wearing the product more accurately.

Take into consideration though, that Aerie is still employing models. They aren’t going out onto the street and selecting the everyday woman for a photography shoot on her lunch break. But still, their effort is admired.

Perhaps on a more modern note, the high-fashion multi-lable retailer Barney’s New York has released campaign photos for their new ads and catalogue. The twist: they feature nearly 20 transgender models.

One of the models featured is Valentijn de Hingh from Amsterdam. De Hingh has already undergone the standard gender reassignment surgery, and has been featured in an array of high-fashion ad campaigns.

In an interview with the New York Times about the campaign, de Hingh said, “In this capitalist consumerist society, things only become acceptable when they become marketable.” The campaign, she added, “was done so honestly and so beautifully and with so much integrity. It’s a really important, big project.”

Earlier today, American Apparel posted  a photo of Advanced Basics model, Jackie, in “timeless lingerie.”

Jackie was hired by the clothing company in 2012 after they had employed a transgender model to promote equality in fashion. At the time, she was approaching her 61st birthday, had never had a modeling gig before, and didn’t hesitate when she was asked to be featured for the campaign.

The post that was published this morning now has over 1,000 likes on Facebook, and comments from users saying, “Absolutely gorgeous!” and “I would love to see more models like her! Amazing!”

Advertising has always been a bold way to catch a client’s eye. But perhaps this shift that is underway will add a more positive side to the practice. If other companies catch on, rather sooner than later, we will all be able to be members in the club. Or perhaps the club mentality will be abolished altogether.

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