Real Talk With Sarah Herron

Sarah Herron founded SheLift, a non-profit that empowers girls with physical differences to discover confidence through outdoor adventures and body-positive mentorship. Read on to learn more about Sarah and SheLift’s story and what makes her #AerieREAL!

Real Talk With Sarah Herron

What inspired you to start SheLift?

Growing up as an early 2000’s teen, we only had TV and magazines to idolize our favorite entertainers and role models. There was no Instragram, or platforms for connection that removed the barrier of real human condition. Magazine photos were always photoshopped and the models we saw rise to the top were always impossibly skinny and perfect. I never saw a single women in the media who resembled me or my body. I had one arm, I was chubby and as far as I knew I was completely alone. I compared myself to those I saw and developed disordered eating and depression. I was in my twenties before I ever saw a woman with a limb difference in a movie and it was Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer. A few years later I set out to find love on ABC’s The Bachelor and quickly discovered that for millions of women across the world, I, too was the first woman they’d seen on TV that they could relate to. I wasn’t sure how to react or mobilize the groundswell of women coping with physical differences in a world that judges them by appearance. So I continued to do my thing – I got active, I got healthy and I shared my successes and my feelings to Instagram. When I discovered that my accomplishments in outdoor recreation and community directly correlated to my improved confidence and mental health, I realized this was my angle to make impact. I started SheLift with a mission to normalize differences by empowering girls with physical differences to improve self-acceptance and confidence through outdoor adventures and body-positive mentorship. SheLift provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences to young women with differences to help them live authentic lives and connect with others.

We just returned from a fundraising retreat in Mexico last month where 20 women – of different age and ability – came together to connect, share and conquer their obstacles. Over the weekend we went on adventures and practiced self-care and discussed the things that make us different but beautiful. You can read more about the trip and ways to join a future retreat here.

Real Talk With Sarah Herron

What advice do you have for someone looking to overcome a challenge in their life?

The best advice I can offer someone trying to overcome a challenge is to seek connection. When we keep our story and our struggle bottled up, we cannot rise from it.  When you share your struggles out loud (with a trusting support group), you’ll be surprised how many other women come forward saying “oh yeah, I feel that way, too!” There’s empowerment in simply knowing you’re not alone.

SheLift provides mentors for girls involved. Who is your role model and why?

My role model is my friend Debbie. I initially met Debbie through her husband Joe, who I worked with. Debbie is a personal trainer and was looking for new clients and Joe knew I’d be up for the challenge. Immediately I loved working out with Debbie because she didn’t approach training like a drill sergeant or with a bootcamp intensity. Instead, she coached that the importance of fitness and training is to become stronger and healthier and that that doesn’t mean exerting energy to the point of exhaustion. More simply put, Debbie didn’t make me fear fitness. As I continued to train, Debbie and I formed a strong friendship – she was coaching my body and my mind. Every week we would discuss the importance of positive self-talk and overcoming self-limiting beliefs. Despite my best effort to dismiss Debbie’s compliments when I was feeling “fat” or “ugly,” she always reminded me that it’s important I practice good mental health as well as physical health. Debbie is only a few years older than me, but she is a mom and an entrepreneur on a mission. She is empowering postpartum mom-bods to love the skin they’re in. She’s turned her passion of instilling “beauty is strength” into an online training program for moms called “Tough Mamas.”

Real Talk With Sarah HerronWhat makes you an Role Model?

I’ve never liked calling myself a role model because the truth is, I’m still human and I am very much imperfect. I never set out with a mission to lead or set an example, I just started living my life as an authentic person and that seemed to catch on! It’s part of my emotional makeup to want to help girls be the best version of themselves and to discover their self worth and strengths. Despite how many inspirational quotes I read or preach, I believe women are wired for personal struggle. So when people ask me what makes me a role model, I guess I’d say it’s because I’m the non-role model, role model. I’m just a person trying to get through each day like the next. I have strong days and healthy days but I also have bad days and fat days – and that’s OK. At the end of the day, I hope that by sharing my story, other women will realize they’re not alone in their journey.

How does the #AerieREAL message align with SheLift’s beliefs?

SheLift is about empowering women to live their most authentic lives. This means encouraging girls to embrace their imperfections and the qualities that make them unique and lovable and to let go of self-comparison. Through social media, I am trying to pull back the curtain on what differences look like. If there’s more visibility to size, shape, disability, etc, we begin to normalize differences and reject beliefs that only skinny is pretty. The #AerieREAL campaign is leading the same mission. It’s so important to be showing impressionable young women that bodies aren’t perfect! Putting photos of un-photoshopped women in media will help other women realise “Oh, her stomach looks like mine!” or “omg, she has stretch marks, too!” and ultimately help reduce eating disorders and depression. We’re both on a mission saying “It’s OK to have imperfections and you’re certainly not alone.”

Real Talk With Sarah Herron

What makes you #AerieREAL? Comment below & tell us! For more Real Talks, see here!

 

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It’s International Women’s Day!

Aerie women change the world. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re honoring game-changing #AerieREAL women across the globe. Today, we’re also launching styles designed in collaboration with our #AerieREAL Role Models and supporting causes close to their hearts. 100% of sales of limited-edition styles designed with Yara, Aly, Rachel and Iskra will be donated to movements that matter:

It's International Women's Day!

100% of sales will be donated to Innocence Project, a special cause that works to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated.

It's International Women's Day!

100% of sales will be donated to Darkness to Light, a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

 

It's International Women's Day!

100% of sales will be donated to I AM THAT GIRL, a non-profit that provides leadership, social & personal development programs for high school & college girls.

 

It's International Women's Day!

100% of sales will be donated to NEDA, a non-profit that supports those affected by eating disorders.

It's International Women's Day!

Show your support this International Women’s Day and wear what matters to you! Share your photos with #AerieREAL and help raise awareness for these amazing causes.

 

 

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Real Talk With Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

Erin Drischler founded The Garment Project, a non-profit that aims to empower women recovering from eating disorders by providing them with new, size-less clothing, individualized for their healthy bodies and lifestyles. We got to know Erin and the story behind her incredible non-profit—read on for more.

Real Talk With Erin Drischler Of The Garment Project

 

What inspired you to start The Garment Project?

I wanted to start telling a different story. There were so many years where I felt stuck in a loop as the ‘sick girl’. I decided that I want to be a voice for those who feel that same hopelessness. For me, clothing and sizing was a huge part of my eating disorder recovery. Returning home from treatment to a closet full of clothes that didn’t fit my body or soul is a struggle that not many in recovery think of prior to it staring them in the face for the first time. Between my fiancé, Jordan, and myself, our careers, hobbies, and talents seemed to give us the expertise needed to try to make a difference.

We recognized that there needed to be a way for someone to maintain their focus on recovery and not their size, even when finding new clothes. We decided that partnering directly with treatment facilities would give us the information we needed about each candidate Garment works with in a private and healthy way. From there, we needed to give each individual a unique shopping experience. Garment created an online tool that allows us to make a new, personalized shopping page for each candidate containing only items in our inventory that we believe matches both their needs and lifestyle. With the help of hard-working and talented people, we believe Garment will change the recovery process and a lot of lives along the way.

Can you tell us a bit more about the power sizing in clothing can have over women and what they can do to overcome it?

Each time I went through treatment, I would learn new skills or bits of information that would improve some of my behaviors and way of thinking. I would usually leave with a feeling of confidence and that I had worked hard to make important changes in my lifestyle. Yet I would find myself in the same place: back at home, day one of no longer having the security of an inpatient treatment team, trying to get ready for class. I was alone in my room staring at a closet full of clothes that no longer fit my body or recovered lifestyle. It was a terrible feeling.

For a long time I used clothes to fuel my eating disorder. It isn’t uncommon to use clothing sizes as benchmarks. I kept and used my old clothes as a means of body checking, or seeing if weight had been gained or not. After several cycles through the treatment loop, I had been convinced to throw away my scale. My eating disorder didn’t need a scale anymore because I had my ‘sick clothes’. I remember one dress in particular that would reveal my current weight based on how it fit. I didn’t have the financial stability or even the courage to box everything up and start over.

Clothing and fashion are personal and powerful ways to express yourself. It is exciting and the easiest way to express your individuality. I was missing the thing I used to love about getting dressed each day. I wanted to be able to pick my outfit based on my mood or whatever side of my personality was stronger that morning, but I was stuck with a wardrobe that had so many negative associations attached to it that I couldn’t feel confident about anything that I had to choose from.

What’s next for The Garment Project?

We are focused on bettering our service and expanding our reach. This year, we are going to be working hard to spread our message and let people know that we’re a resource for people who have done amazing work for themselves and are learning how to lead a healthier life. Of course, Garment is always learning and growing too. It’s a priority for us to be able to expand our service to men and hopefully we’ll make significant progress on that this year as well.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

It took a few years of practice and slips, but I have a completely new relationship with food, my body, and myself. My eating disordered thoughts once consumed my life, paralyzing me from living a life I was proud of. I am three years into recovery and I still feel pride and excitement when I catch myself in control. I eat when I’m hungry and until I am full, and I always order exactly what I want. When I look at a photo of myself, I no longer examine every dimple or imperfection. I am able to see the happiness on my face because that’s what is most important to me now. I learned how to be more patient with people I care about, and forgive others when they might not have met my expectations. The food finally came second to the relationships, which was one of the most important steps in accepting my recovery.

Living this recovered life had not only led me to accept my body and soul, but truly love and embrace what I have to offer. I’m proud of my recovery and the messy, motivating experiences I went through. It is important to us that we be champions of recovery and show those that are struggling how beautiful recovered life can be.

 

Want to learn more about The Garment Project? Check out their website here.

 

 

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Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

We’re so proud to celebrate our fourth year partnering with NEDA, a non-profit that supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Aerie sponsors all NEDA walks across the country that help raise money for advocacy and educational programs and provide support for local communities.

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!

Along with our sponsorship, #AerieREAL Role Model, Iskra Lawrence, will continue to partner with the non-profit as a NEDA Ambassador and attend walks throughout the year. Iskra is always open about her personal journey of learning to accept her body and love her REAL self, and her brave story helps encourage others to do the same.

Strong. Beautiful. YOU!As always, we’re launching a limited-edition collection so you can shop to support NEDA. This year, not only did we bring back our Limited-Edition NEDA Tee, but we also added three styles of NEDA undies! Shop the tee and boybriefs and we’ll donate 100% of sales to NEDA. Want to show your support instead? This spring and summer, we’ll donate $1 (now up to $25,000!) to NEDA for every unretouched swim photo or video you share with #AerieREAL.

Check out Aerie.com/AerieSupports and MyNEDA.org to learn more about NEDA and for additional resources. Always remember… love yourself just as you are. YOU are #AerieREAL!

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