Campaigns glorify ‘imperfections’ in advertising

Urban Outfitters stirs up controversy with inappropriate messages; Aerie fights back


Role model. Supermodel. Fashion model. According to, the definition of a model is, “a standard or example for imitation or comparison.”

When it comes to companies such as Urban Outfitters and Aerie, the attention seems to be on their models and the examples they are setting for their young-women buyers.

The latest advertisements put out by Aerie for lingerie have included models that have not been airbrushed.

This campaign, titled the Aerie Real campaign, features completely untouched images of models.

As stated in Time Magazine online, brand representative of Aerie, Jenny Altman, said, “We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign.”

The women used are still models, but their “flaws” are visible in the photographs.

Erin D’Aleo / Graphics Editor

Erin D’Aleo / Graphics Editor

Altman included that the company wanted to, “promote more realistic standards for its teenage customers,” in hopes that shoppers can envision the products on their own bodies.

Urban Outfitters, on the other hand, has created quite a negative fuss in the fashion world by putting out some offensive articles of clothing.

Shirts portraying phrases such as “Eat Less” in 2010, and one covered in the word “Depression” this past month, have resulted in a dispute.

Although Urban Outfitters did not design the “Depression” shirt, the public blame was thrown onto them for selling it.

According to ABC News, social media quickly became a place of expression.

On Twitter, @EndBullyinNow tweeted, “When will Urban Outfitters stop making mental illnesses a fashion statement?” People all over the world struggle with issues such as eating disorders and depression.

The products being sold offended many, because they were thought to be supportive of anorexia and insincerely imitative of serious mental illness.

According to, Laura Johnson, executive director of women’s apparel and accessories at the company, stated, “We did not create the Depression brand logo tee shirt and it most certainly was not a social statement of any kind.  It was brought to our attention that customers were offended by the product. Though is was not intended to exploit mental illness, we respectfully removed the product as to not further upset anyone.  We’re sorry to those offended by the tee. We were trying to support a small brand, not glamorize mental illness in any way.”

The polar opposite qualities of these two companies bring up the question: is the morality of the fashion world moving forward or backward?

Young women everywhere look up to these models, even if it is just to buy new clothing.

The way models look and what they wear have a huge influence over what buyers look for while shopping.

Either way, something big is happening in the fashion world, and it is not going unnoticed.



Danielle Mulligan can be reached at

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