95% of my undies come from American Eagle’s intimates brand, Aerie. They frequently have sales, so of course I’m on their email list so that I know when to swing by and get cuteness for cheap. At the end of March I started seeing emails from them with subject lines something like “Welcome out new hot guys.” I don’t shop for men, so I didn’t care and deleted the emails. Turns out the emails were touting Aerie’s new body positive campaign for men. Fat men in undies! No photoshopping! Awesomeness abounds! Except no. It was an April Fool’s joke rolled out early. Because body positivity and men’s self image issues are to be mocked.
I was livid when I found this out, and then heartbroken when I learned it was even worse than it first appeared: The models weren’t told they were part of a joke.
I don’t get surprised by this kind of cruelty from brands, but I am surprised to see this coming from Aerie. A few months ago they pledged to stop photoshopping their (women) Aerie models, and they have at least one plus sized model. This juxtaposition tells me that they don’t give a damn about body positivity, they’re just trying to make money and they know body positivity for women has a large base, but since men’s issues aren’t as talked about, they’re just joke fodder. I’m not really surprised by Aerie’s cruelty, but I am surprised that they weren’t business savvy enough to know this was a terrible idea. And I’m thoroughly disgusted that the models weren’t told that they were a part of a joke, the punchline of which is that men’s body issues are funny and not something to be taken seriously.
Fuck Aerie. Looks like I’ll be finding a new place to buy undies.