Real Talk with Jennifer Van Dusen

Jennifer Van Dusen is an advocate for self-care and inspiring all those around her to be their best, healthiest selves! She told us about her fight with breast cancer and how she hopes to raise awareness for the disease. Read on to see what #AerieREAL and #GirlPower mean to her!

Real Talk with Jennifer Van Dusen

Why is it important for girls and women to become educated on their breast and ovarian health?

You are your best health advocate.  No one knows your body better than you do.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen to what it tell you.  Your breast can feel different throughout the month due to hormonal changes so the best thing to do is pick a day each month to examine yourself.  A catch phrase in the community is “Feels on the 1st” which means on the 1st day of a new month is a good time to compare your breasts to how they felt on the 1st of the month before.  Do they hurt, is there discharge, do you feel a lump that wasn’t there a month ago?  And get a Pap done at least every year.  There is hardly anyway to tell if you are having problems with an ovary until it’s too late.  Seeing your doctor for an annual checkup can save your life so don’t put it off because it’s awkward or uncomfortable.  What I would always do is book a girls lunch or get a treat for myself on the way home after my annual exam.

Understanding your personal risk including hereditary factors is another huge part of your physical health as a women.  I’m lucky in that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years before I was.  I learned a lot about the disease but my eyes were opened even more once I was diagnosed.  And after I was I learned it goes much further than possibly your genes.  In my case, my cancer was very receptive to estrogen, so limiting or not drinking alcohol helps as it converts to estrogen when consumed.  I also had my 1st period when I was very young, another risk factor.  I”m not saying make yourself crazy, but ask about your maternal family history and let your doctor know what it is.

Most importantly women need to become educated on their health because it give us power.  So much of life is influenced by outside forces and anytime in which we can take control and help others like us we should.  To me this is the very definition of #GirlPower.

What advice do you have for girls and women who want to lead healthy lifestyles?

The best advice I can give anyone on how to live a healthy lifestyle is start with self-care.  This sounds so simple, but it takes work.  When I first heard about it, at the start of my cancer treatment I thought why do I need to care for me, I have my husband taking care of me, a team of doctors and supportive friends.  But when I learned what it meant and embraced it as part of my treatment I can’t say what a help it was.  Before, I thought it meant; I’m tired from treatment so I’ll take a nap.  But what it really needs to be is a conscious decision to put yourself above all else for little bit every day.  While I was in daily cancer treatment this became a lifesaver, some day it was as simple as putting on a song that lifted my spirits, sitting by the window and enjoying a cup of tea, taking 30 minutes to meditate, getting an ice-cream cone on the way home from the hospital or buying myself a new pair of legging from my favorite store – AERIE.  Self care for me now that my energy is improving is walking my dogs, working up a sweat at the gym, trying out a new recipe for dinner.

Whatever your self-care (or treat as I prefer to call it) is, the most important thing is to do it mindfully; meaning you are doing it for you, you don’t have to justify it you just have to be 100% present in that moment.

Once you are strong enough to care for yourself what you can give back to others is only multiplied.  This is the airplane mask rule, put your mask on 1st and then help the person next to you.

Real Talk with Jennifer Van DusenWho inspires you to be your best self? 

This is a big question.  I could probably write a book on this answer alone!  I am also going to point out that my eyes are very wet while writing this, because my feelings for these people are so deep.

I have to say 1st off my husband, Jamie Van Dusen.  He truly is love, because love is a verb and not a noun.  His strength and unwavering commitment to me got me through the worst, the loss of my mother to breast cancer, my diagnosis, my double mastectomy and so much more.  He was my strength when I didn’t have any therefore he deserves the best from me in return.

The next person is a beautiful angel, Jasmin Fiore.  I didn’t have the pleasure of spending lots of time with her but she is an inspiration to me and many women in my cancer community.  She was so young when diagnosed with MBC (metastatic breast cancer aka Stage4) and had 2 little girls, but she went on to start an amazing retreat for other young women diagnosed with breast cancer.  Only about 3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 40.  Without the retreat she started, Stretch Heal Grow, I never would have met other women like me.  I felt so alone and Jasmin created a community, friendships and a space of healing for us.  While she had a horrible battle of her own she gave back in the most beautiful way possible.  I am forever in her debt and aspire to give back as much as I can because of her (learn more here: https://stretchhealgrow.org/about/)

And I guess at the end of the day I also have to say I inspire me, because when it comes right down to it my thoughts are last thing I hear at night and first thing I hear in the morning.  I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and say I am living my best life or trying my hardest to be a good person.  Every day I am alive is a blessing and it’s not something that is guaranteed so God willing I will make the most of it.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I hope that every women out there has a little #AerieREAL in them!  To me it means I am strong but also insecure, that I am perfect and also flawed.  Most importantly it means that I own who I am and I am grateful.

Want to see how Aerie supports breast cancer awareness? Read more here!

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Bracelet DIY in stores

Share the love this October. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, show someone undergoing treatment that you’re thinking of them. Make an empowering bracelet in select Aerie stores & we’ll send it along! See if your store is on the list below.

Bracelet DIY in stores

Create your own words of encouragement or get inspired by some of our faves.

  • Strong
  • Warrior
  • Fearless
  • Brave
  • U got this
  • GRL PWR
  • Courage
  • Fighter
  • Real love
  • Hope
  • Hi beautiful
  • Fierce

Bracelet DIY in stores

Create a bracelet in a store near you:

Stores

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Take care of your girls!

We’re so proud to celebrate our 9th year partnering with Bright Pink®, a non-profit dedicated to prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancers in young women. We’ll be honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month all October. Read on and find out how YOU can take care of your girls!

Take care of your girls!

To kick off the month, Bright Pink CEO, Katie Thiede, shared the love about our partnership: “We’re thrilled to partner with Aerie for the 9th consecutive year together! Our partnership aims to spark important conversations among young women and inspire them to be proactive with their health, while raising critical funds to fuel Bright Pink’s life-saving mission. Since 2010, together we have raised more than $1 million to empower women to know their risk for breast & ovarian cancer and take action. Bright Pink’s flagship program, Assess Your Risk, has helped more than one million women learn their risk and take steps to manage it. We’re excited to share this quiz with Aerie girls through our partnership this fall because the more you know, the better prepared you are to take control of your health and your future!”

Bright Pink’s website offers an array of life-saving resources, from the Assess Your Risk™ quiz Katie mentioned to monthly Breast Health Reminders™, where you can get alerts right on your phone to remind you to check your girls.

Take care of your girls!

Wear your support proudly with our limited-edition sports bra and legging! 100% of US sales in stores and at Aerie.com benefit the non-profit.

Take care of your girls!

We can all use a little more inspiration! This October, you can get a free pouch and mirror decals with your $5+ donation to Bright Pink in US stores and Rethink Breast Cancer in Canada. These mirror decals act as a daily reminder to take care of your girls!

Want to learn more about our partnership with Bright Pink? Read about it here!

 

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IN OCTOBER, WE WEAR BRIGHT PINK

October is officially breast cancer awareness month, and we’re so proud to be partnering with Bright Pink® for the 8th year to help the non-profit dedicated to prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancers in young women. Make sure you take advantage of Bright Pink’s life-saving resources, from their Assess Your Risk™ quiz to monthly Breast Health Reminders™, and show your support! Our limited-edition tee is our favorite way to wear our Bright Pink pride: 100% of sales from each and every tee support Bright Pink. Read on for 3 of our favorite ways to wear it!

IN OCTOBER, WE WEAR BRIGHT PINK WORK IT OUT

Our tee comes in grey, so that means you can add on all the pink you want! Get your pink workouts in wearing our Move Mesh Back Legging and Play Mixed Mesh Sports Bra.

IN OCTOBER, WE WEAR BRIGHT PINKWEAR IT OUT

Stay cozy and add subtle hints of pink with our Lace-Up Fleece Pant, Faux Fur Vest and Chenille Beanie. Cozy enough to stay home in, cool enough to wear out!

IN OCTOBER, WE WEAR BRIGHT PINKCOZY IT UP!

You can still show your support, even at home. Add shades of red and pink with our Lace Racerback Bralette, Boxer and Shine Bobby Socks.

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Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink & Aerie Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink & Aerie Ribbon Build

Let’s start the weekend with a riddle. Ready? What stands 24 feet tall, is adorned with over 1500 bras, and is positioned on the lawn of our American Eagle headquarters?

Do you need a hint? Hmm…I can’t give it away too easily…

Hint 1: #AerieSupports

Hint 2: It’s bright pink!

Got it? Thought so! Last Wednesday, our Aerie team gathered volunteers across the company to construct a Breast Cancer ribbon embellished and decorated with…bras! The goal of this stunning structure was to bring awareness, hope, and inspiration to women everywhere. These past weeks we have teamed up with the non-profits, Bright Pink and Rethink. Both partners share a mission of focusing on early detection and prevention of breast and ovarian cancers in young women with cutting-edge breast cancer education.

So, how do you create a 2 story ribbon made from bras? Take a peek behind-the-scenes below!

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

And, it begins!

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

We were thinking pink from head to toe!
Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Our merchants and store operations team bring out the bras!

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Okay, the ribbon is officially covered in pink bras. But, … how do we stand it up?

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Talk about girl power! (And, guy power too! You can’t see it, but they pushed it up on the other side!)

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Our fabulous marketing team did a great job organizing the event!

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

Show your support! Online and in-stores now, find our Limited Edition Bright Pink Bridget Bra. 100% of the sales go towards Bright Pink!

Want to learn more?  Join @Aerie and @BeBrightPink at #AerieSupports! Next, Tuesday, October 1st,  from 2-3 PM, we are kicking off Breast Cancer with a twitter chat with CEO and Founder of Bright Pink, Lindsay Avner! See you there!

Behind the Scenes at the Bright Pink and Ribbon Build

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