Acceptance & Inclusion = True Beauty

I’ve been feeling heavy, physically and emotionally. For months, I’ve been mired in a much-desired massive writing project, my first book. Yes, it’s amazing and awesome and I’m thrilled. But it’s been really hard to fit research and writing into the small spaces between clinical work, parenting, and recent life events.

A well-timed vacation has helped immensely, and I’ve maintained a skeleton self-care routine, getting my fruits and veggies and zzz’s and squeezing in some exercise whenever.

But I’ve still been feeling heavy. Literally, I’m ten pounds over my healthy weight. Figuratively, besides all of this personal stuff, I’m also finding that helplessly witnessing the rise of fascism whilst our great democracy crumbles is sort of depressing.

So I’m glad to blog about something lighthearted and uplifting. First off, please know that I receive no perks from this company, nor perks from anyone, as my blog is a no-ad, no-sponsors zone, always!

AerieReal is a long-running campaign by the youthful lingerie clothier Aerie featuring unretouched images of actual women, and they have just quietly posted their latest photos online. The models are real women with real diseases, disabilities, and differences, and they are all stunning, amazing, and inspiring!

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. PeopleFashionista, USAToday, Teen VogueHuffpost, ABC News, and more can’t get enough of this campaign. Social media has exploded with emotional reactions from people who have never seen themselves represented before:

“After almost 19 years with diabetes, i finally saw the first model to ever look like me. thank you @Aerie for celebrating diversity, no matter what it looks like”

“I literally cried when I saw this..Thank you @Aerie for making my daughter a little less self-concious about her diabetes”

“I am about to cry. I NEVER see people with ostomies”

I’ll be honest, I almost cried too.

The women themselves have also been enthusiastic. Model Abby Sams, who uses a wheelchair, posted her photos on Instagram and declared:

“I am PROUD to say I’ve done this. PROUD to be a part of it. PROUD to be a model representing a community of disabled and chronically ill people. PROUD to be comfortable in my own skin…Being a model in a wheelchair for a major company is kind of a big deal and I want to be transparent about it all. Confidence is hard to come by and even harder to master.”

Even better was the joyful Tweet from a woman who also uses a wheelchair, when she  saw Sams’ photos:


The unretouched images show beautiful women with vitiligo, Down syndrome, ostomies, insulin pumps, crutches, scars, and in wheelchairs, and are scattered throughout the Aerie website.

I absolutely love this. This is acceptance and inclusivity, and it’s beautiful. This is how our world should be.

I feel a little lighter now.

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