So That American Eagle “Real Men” Underwear Campaign Was An April Fool’s Joke

Really, AE? REALLY?!

We were all excited by the news that American Eagle Outfitters was trading in photoshopped Adonises for “real” guys in their underwear advertising, but now it appears it was all a cruel hoax.

In March, AE announced it was launching #AerieMan, a men’s version of its popular womenswear line that embraces body diversity and positivity.

Aerie American Eagle
American Eagle

But on Friday, the company said the #AerieMan campaign wasn’t real—they were just “having a laugh.”

American Eagle Outfitters proves once again they’re not afraid to take a risk and have a laugh in support of a good cause.

Following the successes of the Skinny Skinny Jean in 2013 and American Beagle Outfitters in 2014, the brand reveals today its #AerieMAN campaign, featuring a mix of quirky characters of different sizes and personalities sharing “real life” stories in their skivvies, was all in good fun to parody the #AerieReal campaign by Aerie, a leader in body-positive marketing…

We’re all for a good laugh, but doesn’t making fun of your own body-positive message basically undermine it?

american eagle outfitter real men
American Eagle Outfitter

At least AE’s promise to stop retouching models wasn’t a joke. Additionally, the company has donated $25,000 to The National Eating Disorders Association.

“We aren’t afraid of being bold in how we engage our customers, whether through a video that makes you think twice, or challenging the norm in how a brand markets to men,” said global brand president Chad Kessler.

“We are an all-inclusive brand and we know our male customers respond to humor.”

Fair enough, but judging from the reaction we saw to the original story ,they also would have responded to actually having real men in your ads.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.