Eating Disorders Group Partners with Aerie on Body-Positivity Training Program

The National Eating Disorders Association is working with intimate apparel brand Aerie to teach store associates about how to create a judgement-free and inspirational shopping experience for customers.

Looking to replace feelings of insecurity that can come while being fitted for bras with those of body positivity, the National Eating Disorders Association is partnering with intimate apparel retailer Aerie on a new Don’t Change You. Change Your Bra! training program for its store associates.

“Going into a changing room can be a very vulnerable moment … and if you are predisposed to an eating disorder, that is certainly heightened,” said NEDA CEO Claire Mysko.

The program is based off the NEDA Body Project’s train-the-trainer model, which Mysko said has more than 20 years of research behind it. “It’s a very well-respected program for improving body confidence, decreasing body dissatisfaction, and generally promoting the idea that we should celebrate our bodies and feel good about who we are,” she said.

One of the main parts of the program involves role-playing—this allows store associates to learn how to respond to negative comments a customer makes about his or her body. “That’s what’s so great about this partnership is that it’s really about changing the language and changing the culture to be more accepting of a range of body types—to be able to celebrate that and to change the language to be more accepting,” Mysko said.

NEDA has found an alignment of mission with Aerie in this new campaign, but this isn’t the first time the association has partnered with the retailer.

Several years ago, NEDA published a blogpost about the Aerie Real campaign, which made a commitment to not retouch the images of the models in its ads. “It very quickly became one of the most popular posts that we had ever published—both in terms of what we were seeing online and also the reaction on social media,” Mysko said.

This was an organic start to a years-long partnership that would go on to include Aerie sponsoring the NEDA Walk program and creating a t-shirt in support of NEDA’s Strong, Beautiful Me campaign, among others.

“The more diverse picture of beauty that we can advocate for, the better,” Mysko said. “And when we have companies and organizations who really believe in that and put their efforts toward campaigns and initiatives that really work for that kind of change, that’s what keeps me going in my work. I think that we’re at a moment where we are seeing an embracing of more diversity and body positivity, and Aerie has really been at the forefront of that.”

A scene from Aerie's marketing campaign, which focuses on body positivity. (Aerie/American Eagle)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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