American Eagle Under Fire for Male 'Body Positive' #AerieMan Videos

The retailer’s "Aerie Man" videos showcased men of all shapes and sizes.

ByABC News via logo
April 5, 2016, 3:06 PM

— -- Several #AerieMan videos released on March 23 showcasing men of all shapes and sizes in nothing but their underwear and highlighting the slogan, “The real you is sexy,” caused excitement around the idea that the retailer American Eagle was launching a male version of its popular female underwear brand.

However, in a statement released on April 1, American Eagle says the “ads” were meant as a parody, writing, “We know our male customers respond to humor.”

While American Eagle does sell men’s underwear, it turns out there is no Aerie brand for men, but the company says the point of the videos was to call attention to male body positivity and mark “the brand's pledge to forego retouching its male models in its underwear and swim images beginning Holiday 2016.”

“The thing that people got upset about was that about a week after this campaign had launched with these images of body positive men wearing different kinds of underwear, American Eagle came out and said it was a joke that was meant to promote the fact that they were now going to stop retouching male models,” Adweek senior editor Emma Bazilian told ABC News.

Some people didn’t find it funny and took to social media to question why positive male body imaging needs to be a joke.

“Male body acceptance is no laughing matter, especially because the issue already has little visibility. Your ‘joke’ diluted it further,” one person tweeted.

“So apparently the #AerieMan campaign was a parody. Sorry @Aerie, but I’m missing the part where it was funny,” wrote another.

But one of the models in the ad, Kelvin Davis, says he wasn’t trying to fool anyone, telling Nylon magazine “I was 100% real in that campaign.”

American Eagle told ABC News in a statement that even though the #AerieMan line isn’t real, “Body positivity is not, and has never been, a joke,” Chad Kessler, American Eagle Outfitters Global Brand President, wrote. “Inspired by the success of the Aerie brand and the #AerieREAL unretouched campaign, which celebrates women and body positivity, American Eagle Outfitters used the #AerieMAN video to call attention to the serious issue of body positivity for its male customers. Although the #AerieMAN collection itself isn't real, we are committed to stopping retouching on all AEO men's underwear and swim images while showing more diverse body types starting holiday 2016. We hope that this will add to the important conversation about embracing diversity and body acceptance for women and men, and spark further changes in the retail industry."