Underwear brand Aerie, a champion of body positivity and rejector of retouched photos, launched a campaign for its brand new line of men's underwear Thursday that sent the Internet abuzz ... and our detective instincts into overdrive.
The #Aerieman campaign debuted with a series of videos starring five men of different shapes and sizes. It is, according to the website, "a celebration of REAL men who love themselves inside and out."
The underwear is most certainly for sale, but let's talk about the videos. You have a cut-from-marble model preaching gospel about "being a normal guy, just like everybody else," a body-positive style blogger -- Kelvin of Notoriously Dapper -- sitting in a bubble bath wearing a fedora, and a few verging-on-NSFW crotch shots. Something seemed off.
With April Fool's Day looming in the distance, we couldn't help but wonder if the campaign, which has been covered by the likes of Mic, The Cut and Fashionista, to name a few, is really a cheeky spoof, an inside joke wrapped in viral gold and body hair.
That suspicion had us scouring the net for clues. But it wasn't until we received hi-res images from the company that Aerie REALLY got caught with their pants down: The file names included the word "spoof." A spokeswoman for the brand declined to comment on whether or not this movement is tongue-in-cheek, but the proof is in the scantily clad pudding:
We're pleased to see the brand continue preaching its message of body positivity, something that many fashion brands shy away from in advertising for women and even more so for men. However, we're a little confused about the joke. Is Aerie poking fun at itself and its message? Or, more likely, is it poking fun at the rest of an industry that lags behind it on the path toward inclusivity?
Either way, the message is one we should be taking seriously, and now it's out there even more. With the news of modeling agency IMG's "Brawn" division and the conversation about body positivity at the forefront now more than ever, we'll call this a win even if it is a spoof. The more diverse bodies we see, the more we love them all.
Plus, we could pretty much watch a guy in tight, sea-foam green underwear take photos with a selfie stick all day.
Head to Aerie to see all the videos and to shop.