American Eagle’s underwear brand Aerie took inclusivity to a whole new level when they featured Gaylyn Henderson as one of their models in the viral campaign, "Aerie Bras Make You Feel Real Good." According to Fashionista, the campaign's cast was chosen from more than 2,000 people who shared videos explaining why they wanted to be part of the #AerieREAL movement on social media.
The body positivity ads show real and unretouched models living with various medical conditions, including women in wheelchairs, with arm crutches, insulin pumps, vitiligo, Down Syndrome, hearing aids and more. The Mighty wrote, "When the campaign started in 2014, the company stopped airbrushing its models. Tattoos, stretch marks, and bodies were left untouched. Now the campaign has expanded to include models of different sizes and ages as well as those with body hair and scars."
Gaylyn made ostomy awareness a priority after having ileostomy surgery ten years ago because of Crohn’s disease. In 2012 she started Gutless and Glamorous, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with chronic illness. All of her advocacy efforts have been significant, but this time people on social media were totally ecstatic—as they should be!
Here are a just few highlights from Twitter:
It was a Twitter Moment…
A video was featured on NowThis… with ostomate Veronica Villanova too!
From the Today Show to HLN's Across America, the interviews were pouring in. Here are a few questions we asked Gaylyn about this whirlwind week.
What was your first reaction when Aerie contacted you for the campaign?
GH: "My initial reaction was shock! I am still in shock really! I mean don’t get me wrong, from the moment I entered the contest I knew if I was selected this would be HUGE for ostomy awareness. But honestly, I don’t think it hit me until I was actually there at American Eagle Headquarters for the photoshoot. That is when I began to take it all in and think, wow this is really happening!"
What's the significance of the campaign?
GH: "In mainstream media, it’s often referenced as having an ostomy in a negative connotation. Society can make a drastic impact on a person’s decision to receive an ostomy. Even though it's a lifesaving surgery, many are reluctant to receive it because of the negative stigma. All of these factors make it that much more significant that Aerie recognized how having a model with an ostomy has the ability to change and save lives! Having the support of an influential brand like American Eagle to promote positive ostomy awareness has already changed lives and I know this because of the feedback I am seeing and receiving."
As always, Gaylyn was humbled and grateful.
We're so proud of your accomplishments and excited to see where you’ll show up next!