American Eagle’s underwear brand, Aerie, just released a new campaign targeting men.
And it’s absolutely lovely.
The first thing you might notice about Aerie Man is its models: They’re not what you’d typically see in a men’s underwear line.
The brand — launched with the tagline, “the real you is sexy” — features models of all shapes, sizes, and colors. And just like its line of women’s underwear, the photos and videos of Aerie Man models go through “absolutely no retouching.”
The campaign is lighthearted and a bit tongue-in-cheek (pun intended).
There’s Kelvin, who loves using his selfie stick.
And Devon, who enjoys boogying down in his living room.
Doug is a yogi, and proud of it.
And Matt … well, Matt likes taking out the garbage.
Here’s the catch, though: this Aerie Man ad may all be one big practical joke.
Yes, it’s still only March, but … there’s evidence to suggest this might be less of a genuine campaign and more of an April Fool’s joke.
After the ads launched, several media outlets — like this one, that one, and others — wrote about the line, praising its inclusiveness. And with good reason! There’s been much to celebrate when it comes to diverse body types in the male modeling industry lately (take, for instance, Zack Miko, the world’s first “brawny” — not to be confused with “plus-size” — model).
But The Huffington Post, however, spotted something a little fishy after it reached out to American Eagle regarding the Aerie Man story: the word “spoof” was in the file names for the images Aerie provided. Is Aerie Man trying to pull a fast one on all of us?
So we wanted to get to the bottom of it. Is this ad campaign real? Or is it an early April Fool’s Day prank?
When asked about the authenticity of the campaign, American Eagle told Upworthy the message behind the line is, in fact, genuine:
“American Eagle Outfitters is letting guys know they are more than their messy man buns and deeper than six-pack abs. It’s about loving yourself inside and out!”
That answer is great, of course … but for a company which, by the way, has a history of pulling pranks, it still skirted answering the actual question. We could all be getting punk’d this very moment.
Regardless of American Eagle’s intent, though, the is-it-or-isn’t-it buzz around the story says a lot about how we talk about men’s bodies.
Men certainly have body issues too. And according to research, this may be a growing problem.
image dissatisfaction is more prevalent among women
than men,” a recent study out of Canada’s University of Victoria found. “But men may be becoming more negatively
affected and women less so.”
“Our findings support the
assertion that men are more commonly becoming the
targets of mass media images, resulting in more emphasis
on the muscular ideal.”
About 10 million of the approximate 30 million Americans who are suffering from a clinically significant eating disorder are men, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. And men in the LGBT community seem to be disproportionately affected.
So why do we so often overlook these guys when discussing body positivity?
What does it say that Aerie Men’s campaign could even be a joke — that we’d see a campaign celebrating diverse male bodies and assume that it’s just some lighthearted fun, mocking the idea that men have body insecurities too? Would a brand ever launch a body positivity campaign directed at women as a “joke”?
Fortunately, there’s reason to hope men’s beauty and fashion industries are evolving.
Even if Aerie Man’s campaign is the result of an April Fool’s spoof, the praise the campaign has received is a clear indicator that things are moving in the right direction.
“I’m glad brands and companies are starting to see the need for male body diversity in fashion,” Kelvin Davis — yep, the same Kelvin sporting the undies above — told BuzzFeed. “I think it’s long overdue, and what better way than to celebrate men in diverse sizes?”