Making #RealWishes Come True

This holiday and always, it’s so important to us to give back to our communities and make #RealWishes come true. Read on to see how we’ve been doing our part, and get inspired to give back on your own. Share your story with #RealWishes @Aerie!

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Giving Tuesday

​In celebration of #GivingTuesday, we partnered with The Girls’ Circle to host a private shopping party for 25 young women from the Bronx. The Girls’ Circle provides a safe space to help young women develop their voices and tackle challenges faced during their teen years, and also creates a sisterhood with their peers. We held a special party for these amazing ladies at our Times Square Aerie store, where each girl got to hang with an Aerie designer to talk everything from shopping to career to life advice, and got a $250 gift card to treat themselves.

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IMG_2747IMG_2751We also made Giving Tuesday all about giving cozy! From 11.27 to 12.6, Aerie and AE partnered with Delivering Good to give back and donate a warm winter hat to someone in need for every winter accessory purchased online and in stores. We were so proud to donate 70,000 hats!

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One of my favorite sayings is, “Give to the world the same amount of which you receive.” With the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to get wrapped in the festivities and material goods and forget about the real meaning behind them, forget about that saying. So in commemoration of #GivingTuesday, we had the chance to volunteer at the YWCA, an organization committed to supporting and empowering women. This day of service provided a valuable reminder to continue giving graciously—during the holiday season and beyond! To pay it forward, I’ll be giving out some free aerie goodies. Just comment below how you intend to give back! 💚🌟 * * * #AerieREAL #aerieambassador #aeriepartner #RealWishes #GiveReal

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Happy #GivingTuesday! *** Giving Tuesday is a global initiative to kickstart the charitable season with kindness and generosity. One of my favorite things about the @aerie brand is their thoughtfulness when it comes to giving back. *** Last week the Aerie babes [@ryekoch, @mariahweimar and I] were able to bring an entire shopping cart full of canned goods to @riverpantry thanks to the generosity of @mindbodybadger and you all around campus! This morning, I gave back to myself by pushing as hard as I could in my workout. Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll be giving #REALwishes to you all — follow along on my Insta story for your chances to win some adorable Aerie products (peep the scarf in my photo)! *** Most importantly, remember to practice gratitude during the holiday season, and when you have a chance to give back to yourself, your friends or your community – take it! That’s all and have a happy #GivingTuesday! ♥️♥️ *** #AerieREAL #Aeriepartner #Aerieambassador #GiveReal

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Sharing the love at school 

To spread the giving spirit at schools across the country, we asked our #AerieREAL Ambassadors to to tell us how they wanted to give back for Giving Tuesday. From volunteering at local food banks and collecting feminine product donations for homeless women to writing letters to breast cancer patients and survivors—they accepted the challenge with open minds (and hearts!).

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AEO makes #RealWishes come true 

At our home office, we were so excited to bring back our Holiday Giving Trees. This year, we partnered with several local charities—including KidsVoice, Mars Home for Youth, and Beverly’s Birthdays—that support underprivileged, at-risk youth. Home office employees picked a gift wish tag from the tree and purchased a gift for a special young person. Together, we were able to make more than 125 holiday wishes come true.

For more fun around the office, AEO held their 5th Annual Turkey Bowl on 11.20. Employee players and spectators embraced the Thanksgiving spirit and raised a record $15,000 through raffle tickets and donations for several special charities and organizations:

  • Giving Tree Wishes
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Tree of Life Synagogue
  • AEO Helping Hands (which supported AEO associates affected by the California wildfires)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh
  • UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Candy for our Troops

The funds raised were matched by AEO, for a total of more than $25,000 to help those in need.

Making #RealWishes Come True

Aerie stores give back (& pop up!)

Soon after Giving Tuesday, some of our store associates helped count and pack bras that YOU donated to Free the Girls. And that donation happens in every Aerie store, every day! If you want to participate, bring in a bra to your store (any brand, any style), and we’ll recycle or donate it to Free The Girls. Your donation also gets you 15% off a new bra. So far we’ve donated more than 2,000 bras, and you still have time to help out!

For the second year in a row, the Give Real Pop-Up Tour made the rounds at 4 cities, and we donated 50% of all sales at every stop to a local non-profit.

December 1st: Philadelphia – We donated 50% of all sales to Women’s Way, a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of women, girls and gender equality.

December 2nd: Baltimore – We donated 50% of all sales to Girls Empowerment Mission, a program that provides opportunities for high school girls from underserved communities and enables them to become independent, self-sufficient and confident young women.

December 8th: Atlanta – We donated 50% of all sales to I AM B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L., a non-profit dedicated to building self-esteem and leadership capability in girls and women of all ages and stages.

December 15th: Charlotte – Last stop! We’ll donate 50% of all sales to EmpowHERment, Inc., a non-profit that empowers girls and women to be leaders through mentorship, talent development and advocacy.

 

Share how you’re making real wishes come true this holiday with us @Aerie & use #RealWishes.

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Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Love your world! We’re so excited to partner with Thread™, a company that takes plastic waste from Haiti, Honduras and Taiwan and transforms it into recycled polyester. So far, our Play leggings made with Thread recycled yarns have helped divert 403,960.22 pounds of plastic waste from landfills and oceans (that’s the weight of 6,463,363.5 plastic bottles!) and generated $85,688.55 in revenue ​in the First Mile in Taiwan. We talked with Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread, and found out a little more about Thread and the impact that just one pair of leggings can have. Read on for more!

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Kelsey, Director of Sales at Thread

The Thread yarns in our Play leggings start as plastic waste in Taiwan. How does a plastic bottle become one of the leggings we love?

Great question. In my opinion, recycling is about as close as we get to magic. Your plastic starts out as discarded bottles in Taiwan. There are several thousand individuals around the country who pick up and collect these bottles. They sell this material to entrepreneurs who run “collection centers.” These centers sort and prepare the bottles for recycling facilities where they are washed and ground up into flake. That flake gets melted down into pellet and extruded into filament, which is then finished into yarn. That yarn gets knitted into fabric, and finally cut and sewn into your Play leggings.

The best part about this process, is that in addition to diverting plastic waste from landfill and oceans, our supply chains also support income opportunities and small businesses that support their communities. You can look great, and know that you’re having positive impact in the world when you wear these leggings.

Real Talk with Kelsey from Thread International 

Aerie Play Pocket & Cuff Legging, Made with Thread recycled polyester yarns

You focus on the importance of the “First Mile” of the supply chain. Can you tell us more about this? 

Absolutely. Recycling is still often an unregulated industry in many parts of the world. Especially in countries where there may not be a lot of waste management infrastructure, or municipal recycling. The First Mile refers to the individual people that pick up the plastic bottles that become Thread fabric. Our impact team works with these collectors to ensure that their work is dignified and safe and that they have the opportunity to grow sustainable collection businesses to support them and their families.

First Mile also refers to the traceability of our material. Recycled polyester is not a new material, but Thread is the only material that can tell you what country our recycled plastic was sourced from as well as the network of people picking it up. Knowing where your stuff comes from is important, because without this knowledge, you can’t be sure that your entire supply chain is responsible.

 

What advice do you have for someone trying to be more sustainable with their fashion choices? 

Start paying attention to the brands and material choices you are purchasing. If a brand is transparent and forthcoming with information about their supply chains, that is a good sign. If they make products using recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, or other sustainable materials that’s a great place to start. If they don’t use these materials, or you can’t find information about their supply chains, don’t be afraid to reach out to the brand and ask. If brands know sustainability is important to their customers, they will be more likely to make sustainable choices.

Learning how to repair your clothes, thrifting, second hand shopping, and clothing swaps with your friends are also great ways to keep your clothing circulating and useful and out of landfill. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – there is not such thing as a “perfect” material or fiber. Making more informed choices is a great start.DSC01279

 

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Real Talk With Danielle Candray

Danielle is an advocate and mentor for those with alopecia, a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. She’s also a camp counselor with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and one of the stars of our latest #AerieREAL bra photoshoot. Read on to see how the NAAF has impacted Danielle’s life and what makes her #AerieREAL!

Real Talk With Danielle Candrey

How has alopecia impacted your life?

I’ve had Alopecia since I was 2 and a half and I’m now 19 years old. Growing up with it was extremely difficult for me because kids made fun of me for years. I didn’t know anyone who had Alopecia so that caused me to feel isolated.When I was about 14, I attended an Alopecia conference hosted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) and it changed my life. I met amazing people who were just like me and the conference helped me get the courage to wear my wig less. I’ve gone to the conference every year since, so about six years and I have completely transformed. I made alopecia become something positive that could benefit me. I’ve met the most amazing people through alopecia and I have been given the opportunity to inspire other alopecians to embrace/accept themselves which is incredibly rewarding.

What would you like to share with those who are not familiar with alopecia? 

For those who are not familiar with alopecia, we are not sick. Most people assume that we are very sick and feel the need to treat us differently. Alopecia is not life threatening but is life altering. Alopecia is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to attack our hair follicles thus causing hair loss. There are different types of alopecia, I have alopecia areata which means my hair grows/falls out in patches. If you see someone who you think might have Alopecia, try not to stare too much, it makes some of us a bit uncomfortable. Everyone deals with their alopecia differently. Some are very open about it and like to talk about it like myself but some are still shy about it and feel embarrassed when asked questions. My tip for when meeting someone new who has alopecia would be to wait to ask questions until they mention their aloepcia themselves!Real Talk With Danielle Candrey

What’s one of your proudest moments?  

My proudest moment just happened in late June! I was working as a kid’s camp counselor for the NAAF Conference. My group started out with about 4 teenage girl campers but by the end of the conference, I ended up with 12 girls. I guess our table was the popular table! Throughout the conference, I talked to some of the girls and gave them advice, shared my experiences with alopecia, and even encouraged a few off them to take off their wig/hat! On the last day of the conference I was thanked by many of the girls’ parents because I helped their daughters come out of their shells and the girls were grateful that I was their camp counselor. Although I was there to make the conference a great experience for them, I believe they made my experience unforgettable and I thank them for that. So yeah, this past NAAF conference as a camp counselor was my proudest moment!

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m #AerieREAL because I’m not letting my alopecia or weight prevent me from doing the things I love!

The beauty about #AerieREAL is that it doesn’t mean we are “perfect” or love every inch of ourselves every day. To me, it means that it’s okay to have bad days because that’s what makes us human and real. As long as we remember to accept ourselves the way we are and treat our bodies with respect, then we can all be #AerieREAL.

 

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Real Talk with Evelyn Riddell

Evie is a history student at the University of Toronto, an active member of the type one diabetes community, and she just so happens to be fearless wearing a bra in front of a camera! Read on for more of her story and why she wanted to join our latest #AerieREAL photoshoot.

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What made you want to join this #AerieREAL bra photoshoot?

Aerie has been my favourite store for many years. I started out with wearing their clothes, and then ended up loving their message. I often looked at their photos in store and on social media, wondering if I could ever be a part of their movement, but at first I thought my Type One Diabetes would somehow disqualify me. After all, I had never seen anyone like myself represented before. I had faith, however, that if any store could change this, it would be Aerie! When I saw the contest opportunity on their Instagram, I decided to take a chance and apply. I hoped that I would be given the opportunity to not only make my dream come true, but to represent all Type One diabetics and give them a voice.

You’re on our site rocking a bra and an insulin pump, and people everywhere (us included!) are so inspired by you. How does it feel to represent the diabetic community?  

It has been absolutely surreal! When I was diagnosed, one of the first things I noticed was how incredibly supportive the Type One community is. From the very beginning I have been an active member of this community, and I am forever grateful for the lessons, friends and opportunities it has given me. It feels amazing to be giving back, and be representing Type Ones within the #AerieREAL movement. I’ve heard from countless individuals saying how this campaign is the first time they’ve seen themselves represented in the media. I have received messages from tweens, teens, adults, and parents of young children. Many individuals have even sent me photos wearing their Continuous Glucose Monitors [CGM] or insulin pumps visibly for the first time. My hope is that one day soon it won’t be a single campaign representing the community, but Type One representation will be so normalized that we’ll see devices worn confidently, and blood sugar checks done proudly everywhere… until there’s a cure!!

Have you seen representation of people with diabetes in the media before? How has it (or the lack of it) affected you?

The only time I see Type One representation in the media is when I’m actively looking for it. That’s why the type one community is so important, because it provides us with examples of individuals thriving and proudly living with Type One Diabetes. Without these, there really isn’t representation within “mainstream” media. There is a narrative of general “diabetes” within advertising, which leads to many misunderstandings about the differences between Type One and Type Two diabetes. Because of this incomplete narrative I have received many rude or ignorant comments about my personal health. I have been subjected to comments from both my peers and strangers, ranging from my eating habits to their reasons for my diagnosis, and even my body type. This was not easy to deal with as a 12 year old girl already struggling with self-confidence and body positivity. This is why representation of Type One Diabetes is so important, because it can educate people and help breakdown harmful misconceptions. I know that this campaign would have meant the world to a me at 12 years old, and I hope that it will mean just as much to everyone else.BTS2_Carousel_Bras_2_2

Tell us about your experience on the shoot!

The shoot was absolutely incredible! One of the most empowering, exciting and fulfilling days of my life! Every single person on set genuinely believes in Aerie’s message. Their first priority was making sure all the models felt comfortable and safe. Wearing just a bra and underwear can be intimidating, especially with flashing lights and cameras pointed at you. This being said, I never felt anything other than comfortable and was surprised how natural it all felt. As someone with Type One diabetes, Aerie made sure there was always food in case I went low, and were all eager to learn more about how my devices worked. I arrived beyond excited yet very nervous, and by the end of the day, left feeling like I had a new family.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

I’m not perfect, far from it, but I’m trying my best! I’m real about this, and I want people to know it! When it comes to my Type One Diabetes, I don’t want to pretend that it’s not difficult. Growing up I was always a perfectionist, but type one has helped teach me that there is no such thing as “perfect”. Having a chronic illness means learning to accept both the highs and the lows, and being content with knowing you’re trying your best. I wear my insulin pump and CGM proudly, because without it I can’t grow, mature and live the life I want to.

 

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Real Talk with Aysha Emmerson

Aysha Emmerson founded Self.I.E. (Self Inspiration and Empowerment) Camps to help girls in their pre-teen years. Read on to find out what inspired Aysha to become an advocate for empowerment and learn more about the camps that bring girls together at such an important time in their lives.

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What inspired you to create Self.I.E. Camps?

My fervent belief in the powerful strides girls can take when they support one another drove me to create Self.I.E Camps. I experienced this support from inspiring young women double my age when I was hospitalized with anorexia as an eight-year-old. I battled with this life-threatening disorder from ages seven to twelve. The unkind words and actions that were all too common in middle school only made my struggle worse. I watched my peers’ attempts to conform, while wearing my own feelings of not being “good enough.” In high school, as I found my niche and grew a stronger voice, things began to change for me. I realized that I was not alone in my experience of insecurity and isolation. Believing that no other girl should have to hurt like I did—I heard my call to action. I could not find a pre-existing venue to help inspire and empower younger girls using the approach that I felt was needed, so I decided to create my own.

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Tell us about how your camps empower girls and young women & why that’s important to you.

I believe that our uniqueness is what makes us beautiful and I have experienced the pain that comes from struggling to change the body we are born into. I no longer want to live in a culture that perpetuates an unattainable image of beauty. I no longer want to see girls’ and boys’ true selves be degraded by their own low self-esteem, which can lead to any number of serious issues that inhibit an individual’s capacity to reach their potential. I no longer want to feel helpless to a situation that I can help improve. I want everyone to embrace themselves and each other.5 Days_Themes

Self.I.E (Self Inspiration and Empowerment) is a day-camp for girls entering grades 5 and 6. Led by high-school students, the camp includes activities and reflections designed to build a strong sense of self and skills to navigate the pre-teen world. Each day of the camp centers around one of five themes: self-care, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-defence, and self-to-others. The goal is to help participants at a vulnerable age develop a rich appreciation and understanding of themselves, allowing them to build resilience and flourish, while also enabling them to support other girls and give back to their communities. It creates a safe space where girls entering middle school can come to see the value in being themselves and can be given love and support from their peers and positive teen role models, who were in their shoes just a few years earlier. In addition, sharing and role modelling Self.I.E’s five themes helps the camp counselors to better embody these lessons in our own lives, while strengthening their confidence as leaders.

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What would you tell your ten-year-old self?

To my ten-year-old self: you deserve kindness. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and who accept you as you are—and if you can’t find them just yet, hold on a little longer—they do exist. Treat yourself as you would treat others. Be kind, be patient, be accepting, and know that it is okay to be confident in who you are. Stop focusing on others’ opinions and focus on what you think of yourself. In the end, that’s all that matters.

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What advice do you have for someone who is struggling?

Find trust. Trust the resilience of life’s little joys. Trust that there are people who care about you and who can help you. Trust what your own body is telling you. Trust that you can and will get through this. Like when you are on the last stretch of a run and all you want to do is quit, physically override any negative thoughts with each step you take—no matter how small. Trust that you and others have crossed a finish line before and can do it again.

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What makes you #AerieREAL?

I am #AerieREAL because I believe our real selves are our best selves. I live each day with the intention of lifting others up and building their self-confidence. I see the world through an accepting lens, recognizing the beauty in everyone and everything. I focus on the things I do control—who I am and how I treat others—rather than the way I look or what others think of me. I recognize that I will always have my flaws and challenges but that these are an important part of the real me and the person I am becoming. By using my voice and personal story I hope to inspire and support others, while helping to bring about social change.

 

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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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