Lingerie Ads Aimed at Young Women Take a Stand Against Retouching


More compelling (at least for us) than the anti-Photoshop/retouching campaigns that have recently been going viral are the magazines and advertising campaigns that are backing these movements by actually taking excessive retouching out of the equation.

Magazines like Verily, who earlier this year explained their no-Photoshop policy, and ad campaigns like Aerie Real, a new campaign for the lingerie brand Aerie that is currently taking the Internet by storm.

The campaign has hit home in the same way that Dove’s Real Beauty campaign did; the difference is that Aerie — a lingerie sister brand of American Eagle — is a brand specifically marketed to young woman 15-21… the same ones who are most often bombarded by fake imagery and messages that promote an unhealthy body image.

The brand sells to the age group that is most susceptible and affected by Photoshopped images, and yet they’ve taken a stand against it with the the Aerie Real campaign and it’s tagline “Time to Think Real, Time to Get Real, No Supermodels, No Retouching, Because… The Real You is Sexy.”

Here’s a look at some of the ads the campaign has thus far released — as well as a video interview with one of the models — all of which were shot by photographer John Urbano:





Obviously one ad campaign isn’t going to change an industry, and the women featured have been made up and photographed under professional lighting, but we know that we’re looking at real waists, real faces and real imperfections. That is, at the very least, a step in the right direction.

As photographers, we probably have a less demonic view of Photoshop than most of society. And yet we can appreciate a campaign that says no to retouching and commits to capturing beautiful portraits in-camera.

To see more from or find out more about the Aerie Real campaign, you can head over to the brand’s website by clicking here.

(via Adweek)

  • Mike

    Are the cops going to come after me now that these photos are on my system? :(

  • Mike

    “The real [15 year old] you is sexy”
    What the hell.

  • MS

    Great. Now if you don’t look like that glossy magazine out-of-the-platonic-cave-form of beauty, you can’t even blame Photoshop.

  • John

    Speaking as a man, I have to say I find heavily and noticeably photoshopped pictures repulsive (so basically almost every single one).

  • eduardomps

    I saw one complaint, so far, about this campaign coming from other women: it’s easy to boast “not retouching” when you get a lot of “standard”, skinny girls

  • Aezreth

    So I guess healthy normal women aren’t “real” women then? If you think these girls are skinny you must be American.

  • James

    See the thing is, I have heard “photoshop is evil” from so many make up caked faces that the whole idea of not retouching a photo to maintain a “real” idea of women just seems silly to me.

  • Fernando Callo

    You can retouch things like the skin tone, some imperfections in the skin, remove sweat but not liquify the model to make it look even more skinny than it was. Also not to change the facial expression when you liquify eyes, lips, nose or even flip one eye to make both eyes equal, that’s ridiculous. Some sort of retouching is allowed but using criteria.

  • guest

    I like how they chose a completely not-average girl to boast “no-retouching” needed; – she looks amazing almost all the time – and it only takes half a lifetime in the gym to achieve such results (not knocking that at all +10 to her for the dedication). These types of ‘campaigns’ will just force those insecure females (and talentless photographers) to complain about something else.

    Retouching is merely a tool; amongst angles, lighting, make up, and great creative direction that make up an awesome photo.. it is however just an ‘easy target’ to blame.

  • James

    What next a campaign demanding that all portraits be shot at the 35mm equivalent focal length?

  • Omar Salgado

    But again, women are objects.

  • James

    You CAN actually use any tool or method you want to realize your artistic vision, make her skin purple for all i care. If you want your style to represent the world as accurately as physically possible then more power to you but I’m not in the CIS crime scene, or journalism photography business, I’m in it to make art, and you can liquify that any way you want to, but it’s what I enjoy.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    Am I the only one that thinks retouching still has a place. The thing is how you define retouching and WHAT and how you do it. By that I mean retouch a pimple…. Aaron Nace had a nice saying “Retouching isn’t about making people look different, it is about making people look the best version of themselves”. If a model has a pimple that will not be there in a few days I remove it. I consider this retouching. But I don’t lengthen the legs of a model or make it skinny as hell.

  • J

    A step in the right direction, really? I find it even more depressing to see thoses “real” girls because most girls and women do not look as goog “au naturel”. We know that Photoshop is a staple in the fashion and magazine industry, so at least we know the models are photoshopped. Beauty will always be the standard. And the “real” standard is not the Aerie girls.

  • Carl Meyer

    Because it’s completely abhorrent to use young females to sell underwear to young females.

  • Carl Meyer

    Time to get real, it’s not about beauty it’s about cutting corners.

  • Hannah Paige Woodard

    I’m with Carl. I think Aerie is one of the most respectful brands towards young women – they know they’re selling to girls/younger women, and they don’t objectify/over-sexualize their models. I always have felt that the women in their ads felt real and felt like someone you might really meet and be friends with. If you’re selling women’s underwear, you’re going to have pics of women in underwear. But there’s a way to do it where you’re selling the clothes, and there’s a way to do it where it looks like what you’re selling is their bodies (cough cough Victoria’s Secret)
    and, good on them for running this campaign. :)

  • Andy

    Okay, so young, thin women with good skin don’t need much post processing. Film at 11. Next up, complaints about choosing only young, thin women with good skin.

    Look, 99 per cent of this is getting it right on set with good lighting. Or will using good lighting also be railed against? What irks me is BAD Photoshop, particularly the lack of any skin pores so that the models look like burn victims who’ve managed to keep their eyelashes.

  • Snarkasaurus

    This “anti Photoshop” trend is getting ridiculous. Even with these ads people are complaining that they’re choosing girls who’re already attractive and not representing the “average.” What’s next, companies specifically looking for ugly, out-of-shape girls?

    It’s advertising, its very nature is essentially the opposite of “honesty.”

  • Brandon Daughtry Slocum

    Photoshop is the worst thing that has ever happened to the art of photography, and I applaud this company for using real photos in their ads. Young women need to understand that they can never live up to the computer-generated “perfection” of fashion photos. However, I think the sultry, sexy look for girls this age is just wrong. There are some very happy pedophiles thanks to this ad campaign.

  • sheckie

    Why is it called REtouching. Who touches it the first time?

  • Renato Murakami

    The real you is sexy. Unless of course, you are not among our carefully selected models with close to no rashes, scars, cellullitis, extra fat in some places and also perfecly fit bodies with simetric faces and beautiful eye and teeth color.
    Yep, shure, this will make young women feel way less pressured.

  • Scott

    Before my wife had our son she had a body pretty much like these girls and never stepped foot in a gym…

    This is how the average girl that eats well and actually spends some time being physical should look!

  • Alex

    Great, so now if young girls don’t look like that, they can’t even blame photoshop? I understand wanting attractive models to market your product but it’s still not really an accurate cross-section of the market in reality.

    Step in the right direction though I guess…

  • fatso

    So they saved money by not having them retouched and now more people have seen this advert… pretty good advertising ;-)

  • Omar Salgado

    Okay, I’ll put it this way:

    The women are the rack.

    The same happens with men, if your wondering it.

    In the end, it makes objects out of human bodies just for the sake of selling.

    See my point?

  • lloyd

    super at there ages retouching is needed as much let see a 25 -30 year old version of this idea and see how far it go’s

  • lloyd

    not needed

  • Turbo ChiChi

    how about making it a notch higher by having a no makeup policy? Photoshop and makeup are basically the same thing, hiding the flaws of the subject. naaaah, that would be a PR nightmare ^.^

  • Zen-Tao

    With a good make up , fashion designing and without wearing my glasses I am able to see almost all girls beautiful.

  • FFPUrbex

    But now it is physically possible.

  • Hwoarang5

    Real average girls out there are short and with a belly.. if they ever use those girls as model, now, then its real… but i doubt so.. these are still selected girls.. no different with supermodel or photoshop.. most just “shop” with plastic surgery instead

  • Antonio

    The claim should be: “The girl in this photo has not been retouched WITH PHOTOSHOP. She has been retouched by a professional make up artist and hairdresser, and photographed under professional lighting by a professional photographer” and “Please, don’t try it at home”.

  • guest

    the specific girl mentioned however, posts pictures of herself in the gym which is why i eluded to that. Yes there are naturally skinny girls out there, however based on your comment, it sounds like your wife was one of them and should spend time in the gym if she wants to regain her pre-childbirth appearance (bringing us full circle to my original comment).

  • wornoutwv

    I’ve disliked retouched photos for years. I’ve always hated what magazines did to their pictures of women. Yes perfect lighting and professional make up doesn’t truly represent what real life is like either but the sooner we get rid of pictures that look more like a painting than a real person the better.

  • akshayjamwal

    I don’t know. Seems like a disingenuous publicity stunt.
    The whole “no retouching” ideology seems misplaced to me. What next? No makeup? A lot of people go overboard with the retouching, to the point where people look like china dolls, but to say “no retouching” is as good as saying “no makeup” in my book.

  • Experiment_626

    A pedophile, by definition, is attracted to the prepubescent, and the young lady in the photos above is certainly not prepubescent. The term “ephebophilia” is used for those attracted primarily to the pubescent and post-pubescent.

  • Joy Ward

    The girl laying on the bed’s photo is retouched. Look at her stomach laying on the bed and you can see the awkward un natural tan shadow…. not natural lighting at all…

  • Joy Ward

    To the photo manipulator, perhaps it is about art, but to the teenage/young adult girls looking at these ads, many of them strive to look like those models. if you’re not tall enough, skinny enough, busty enough, flat abs enough then you feel as you’ve fallen short, and try to do unrealistic things to obtain that unrealistic/photoshopped body…. Not even knowing that the model herself really doesn’t look like that.. A photoshopped body screams loud and clear that this is what women should look like, and men seem to think so too…

  • James

    Dang man this article’s old you must have went on a journey to find this, but back to what we were talking about, you say the word unrealistic quite a lot you also use it interchangeably with the words skinny, tall, busty, and fit, things that are perfectly possible to achieve 100% without photoshop.

    While I understand that it might make some people, women and men ( I know I wish I had 6 pack Abs), feel inadequate living in a world were every main stream model is skinny, tall, busty, or fit; It’s important to remember that the reason that we like those features, and they they are used in so many ad campaigns, posters, and fliers.

    Is that there are real people out there, who have those features, maybe not to the extreme extents that you can push them in photoshop, but if you walk though any gym, or college campus, you will see that there is not a lack of people who are physically fit, skinny, tall, or otherwise attractive enough to be put on filers right next to any model.

    Maybe they are maybe they are walking breathing unrealistic expectations, but fortunately there is photoshop for the rest of us.