The Summer 2017 cover of Darling.

Darling set out to be a different kind of women’s magazine. The arty-looking quarterly with the tag line “the art of being a woman,” which former model Sarah Dubbeldam took from a blog to a print title thanks to a 2012 Kickstarter campaign, has made it a mission to depict real, un-retouched women and speak to the ideas of female empowerment and self-esteem. 

“Darling fills an immense need in culture for a constant, authentic collective that’s cheering women on in their uniqueness, not pressuring them to fit into an unattainable ideal. We aren’t a click-bait machine; we focus on the issues under the issues, don’t retouch women, and try to retrain women’s eyes to see beauty in a new and more diverse light,” Dubbeldam explained.

And that mission extends to its advertising. So it seemed like a natural fit to partner with Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie brand, which has taken a similar stance when it comes to eschewing Photoshop for authenticity. 

“We both knew we had to spread the word about the pressure social media has on youth culture, and young women in particular, to present a filtered/edited version of the way they look. These unrealistic expectations can create a negative self-image and cause us all to feel as if we are less than others,” said Jennifer Foyle, global brand president for Aerie by American Eagle. “If our partnership can influence young women to feel good about themselves first and care less about other’s perceptions or acquiring ‘likes,’ then we have done something important for the future of young women everywhere.”

Aerie began advertising in Darling’s print edition just over a year ago. But these days, even an unconventional media brand is looking to video. Next week, Darling and Aerie are unveiling a new project — a documentary called Selfie, which will “explore the real consequences of the virtual standards of beauty placed on the lives of women,” according to Dubbeldam.

Over the course of 10 weeks this fall, Darling will release episode-length previews on its YouTube channel, and the full-length project will come out in 2018.

“There is a huge gap in media and fashion between the projected, idealized ‘perfect’ and the real beauty of a woman, inside and out. Together, we believe we can bridge this gap and build a healthier definition of beauty,” Dubbeldam said. “Aerie continues to be a remarkable partner and I believe we are elevating the standard for how a brand partnership is structured.”

Read more:

September Issues: Experts Call Out the Winners and Losers

Aerie in Programs on Body Image, Eating Disorders

Katy Perry Recites Camus for W Magazine’s September Issue

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