Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Samira Wiley

Samira is a bright light who radiates passion and purpose. She shines on screen in our favorite shows, and off screen as a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community. Her real power is her smile, and “it’s not just a smile. It’s everything that emanates from that & everything in my life that has brought me to be able to smile in that way.”

As an actress and an activist, Samira wakes up with a clear purpose every day: “What makes me feel happy in my own skin has a lot to do with passion and purpose. I feel like I’ve figured that out for myself possibly at an early age, and it’s the driving force of everything that I do.”

Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Samira Wiley

“There’s a certain feeling when you stand in the mirror when you put on something ‘awesome’ that makes you stand in a different way, makes your face light up in a different way.” Shop Samira’s Aerie faves here.

Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Samira Wiley

“I’m just trying to spread love!”

Meet all of your new #AerieREAL Role Models here.

 

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Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Brenna Huckaby

Brenna is a Paralympic medalist who started snowboarding after she lost her leg to cancer. She went on to become a world champion not just once, but 3 times! She inspires on and off the slopes as a mom to her 3-year-old daughter. Her real power? She’s fearless.

To Brenna, fearless is about getting out of your comfort zone: “To allow yourself to go for it and step out of that comfort zone is so powerful and so scary but so important, because that’s what’s going to get you to your goals.”

Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Brenna Huckaby

As a mom and an athlete, Brenna is always on the go. “I like anything cozy. I’m usually running from the mountain or the gym, so I love having something easy but also stylish and flattering.” Shop her Aerie faves here.

Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Brenna Huckaby

“I don’t really know if there was ever a defining moment that led me to where I am, but I definitely think there was a defining mindset that got me here. It was when I stopped allowing my past to dictate my future. That was when things kept happening and amazing things came together in my life— at that moment when I just let it all go.”

Meet all of your new #AerieREAL Role Models here.

 

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Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Molly Burke

As a YouTuber and motivational speaker, Molly shares it all—from personal stories to beauty tips to mental health and anti-bullying advocacy. And she just happens to be blind. Molly started to lose her sight when she was just 4 years old, but that hasn’t stopped her from fighting for inclusivity and accessibility for all. Her real power is acceptance.

Throughout her journey, Molly found a way to view blindness as a gift: “I am able to take people for who they are and not judge them for what they look like. I get to see the real person, the inside of them, before making any judgements.”

Get to know #AerieREAL Role Model Molly Burke“My personal style is anything that is unique. Anything most people wouldn’t wear, I’m going to rock it!” Shop Molly’s Aerie faves here.

“Once I loved myself because I was actually being genuine and authentic to who I am, that’s the moment I actually started making more genuine connections with people and more genuine friendships, because the people I was meeting actually knew Molly.”

Meet all of your new #AerieREAL Role Models here.

 

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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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Real Talk with Sadie Strong 

She’s a veteran, she’s a mom, and she’s #AerieREAL! Sadie Strong has learned to embrace her body through all of its stages. Read on below to see how Sadie tries to pay it forward while keeping it #AerieREAL in her everyday life.

Real Talk with Sadie Strong Has being a mom affected how you feel about your body?

When I was pregnant I embraced my baby bump. I wore a bikini, showed it off with crop tops and everything. I thought it was the best body I had ever had. Honestly, in the back of my mind I was worried about what others were going to think of me and my post pregnancy body. “Was I going to bounce back?” “ What if I didn’t?” Now, being almost a year post birth I put all of those questions to bed. The body I have, my son loves to cuddle with and take naps on. If anything, being a mom has made me more comfortable with the appearance of my body because I know the amazing things it’s capable of doing.

What’s your advice for someone who seeks balance in their life?

I believe balance is like an internal scale, weighing the options on how you live your life.

When you put outside world opinions on one side of the scale instead of your own thoughts, opinions and needs, you have to try a lot harder to balance your scale. I believe you need to truly put your own happiness first to have balance in your life. It’s a lot easier to balance yourself and be happy when you are not trying to please strangers as well. Real Talk with Sadie Strong 

Big or small, how do you pay it forward?

I truly try and pay it forward as often as I can. Usually in small cute ways whether it’s for my loved ones or strangers. This is silly but often when I get coffee in a drive through I pay the persons behind me also just because I know it will make them smile. For my kids I like to leave surprise notes around their rooms, or in their backpacks at school to remind them how smart and amazing they are or send them little jokes. I love to give people a small moment of happiness because life isn’t always easy, but I believe a smile goes a long way and can get you through a day.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m #AerieREAL because I  am my TRUE self and I choose to be me. Every curve, scar, smile, and feeling! I am enough just the way I am. I am a mom and disabled veteran, and being able to accept my body and myself  for who I am, allows me to live my best life and be Role Model for positivity and self love.

Want to learn more about our latest #AerieREAL photo shoot? Read about it here!

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Real Talk with Cassie Wegeng

Cassie is an animal trainer and caretaker turned non-profit world saver focused on leading a healthy lifestyle (and eating all the donuts along the way). She’s also one of our newest #AerieREAL faces! Read on to see what makes her #AerieREAL and how her time at the Aerie bra photoshoot encouraged her to be her best self.

CassieWegangWhat workout makes you feel REAL good?

I have been following the “Tone It Up” program for several years now, and I LOVE it!! Tone It Up is a combination of nutrition education and recipes, workouts and community. I’ve met some incredible, supportive women through the Tone It Up community who are like minded and keep me accountable! The workouts are a planned for you, can be done anywhere, and they’re a mix of anything and everything – HIIT, kickboxing, dance cardio, weights, yoga, even meditation. I cannot recommend it enough, as it literally changed my perspective on health and has been a major part of my life. I’m also a sucker for a good beach run.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated?

GREAT question – as this is different for everyone! Motivation will ebb and flow, and that’s ok! Fitness and nutrition is a life long journey, not a shortcut to quick results. Find something that works for YOU and makes you happy. What helps me stay motivated is the feeling I get after I workout. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and eventually it becomes FUN and your body will crave it. You will never, ever regret working out (even if it’s terribly difficult throughout!), and you’ll feel accomplished no matter what.

How has your active lifestyle impacted how you feel about your body?

Leading a healthy lifestyle has proven to me that my body is capable of so much, mentally and physically! A huge part of an active lifestyle to me is the mental component – finding the strength to push through challenges. Our bodies are so much stronger than our brain sometimes. Turning negative self talk around during a workout is a tool I’ve learned to utilize more in my daily life as well! When we treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with love, our bodies love us back and carry us through life’s ups and downs with strength and confidence.IMG_5675_f_1

Tell us your experience on the shoot!

Photoshoot day was quite literally the BEST day ever (ok, wedding steals first place, but you know what I mean). I never wanted it to end! There was so much love, laughter, music, dancing, amazing clothing, inspiring stories and conversation, and friendships made that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to Aerie for the opportunity to share our stories, and I will forever cherish the memories made throughout this journey.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I think being #AerieREAL means just being REAL! Social media these days makes it so easy to get wrapped up in trying to be “perfect”. I am so over society’s definition of perfection. I’m 100% trying to prove that perfection is being you through and through, because no one else on the planet can do that. I’m also a big proponent of living a healthy lifestyle and working hard to reach your goals. That’s when I feel my best, which allows me to be the best for those I love!

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