We Caught Up With Jacob Whitesides About AEO's Latest Campaign Promoting Self-Expression And Love

"No matter how far from the top you start, don't stop trying to get there."

In a world that often tries to bring us down, one fashion campaign is trying to pump us up by celebrating our unique differences. 

Earlier this January, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) announced its latest installment of the #WeAllCan campaign for its spring '17 collection, featuring millennials and Gen Zers like Cameron Dallas, Jacob Whitesides, Zella Day, Kai Morton, and Tyler Mitchell from such industries as entertainment, technology, and photography.  

According to AEO's press release, the Spring '17 campaign aims to "give young America a platform to express themselves, share with the world what they 'can do,' " and promote self-expression through video content and imagery.

To supplement the campaign, AEO will host CANdid, a series of short films allowing campaign talent to talk about their unique journeys within their own industries and invite others to do the same. 

"The addition of the CANdid series allows us to give our customers a deeper connection to the campaign as well as a larger platform to share their creativity and personal achievements with others," AEO Global Brand President Chad Kessler said in a release. 


To learn more about the campaign, and its message of self-expression and inclusion, we caught up with campaign star and singer, Jacob Whitesides.

As a singer and performer, what inspires you about this campaign?

It shows how so many different people in many different industries have come from different struggles and situations and made something of themselves — by being themselves. It's very easy to become discouraged by life circumstances, but showing kids, who don't have a perfect life, that it's still possible to be yourself and be successful is very powerful.

Jacob Whitesides Photo courtesy of American Eagle Outfitters

Why did you get into music and how has it shaped you as a person?

I first got into music because it made me happy to see other people happy. Seeing the reaction I got from my family, friends, and others gave me such a special feeling. Long before I gained a deeper appreciation for music itself and how it made me feel, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the people around me [feel] happy when I sang.

What do you think it means to truly be yourself? How can we channel that self-confidence?

Finding beauty where others see flaws was really difficult for me, but channeling out negative people in my life was a huge step in locating that self-happiness. Once I was surrounded by a lot of positivity, I felt much more comfortable in my own skin. 

Fernanda Ly Photo courtesy of American Eagle Outfitters

"It would be a very boring world if everyone looked just like society's version of 'perfect.' That's something I like to remember."

Why do you think the #WeAllCan campaign, and promoting people's individuality and uniqueness, is so important to promote within the fashion industry?

The #WeAllCan campaign shows so many different ways to empower the things you're unsure of and truly embrace them. The fashion industry has gained so much recognition with younger demographics through social media, and being able to promote [that message] on that large of a level ... is extremely important.

Cameron Dallas Photo courtesy of American Eagle Outfitters

Why do you think the millennial/Gen Z voice is so strong and how does it empower you?

For the first time ever, technology has given younger people the opportunity to form opinions outside of what they're surrounded by. That alone has made this generation very strong.

Why do you think it's important for millennials to encourage and empower each other?

With so much unnecessary hate in the world (now more than ever), it's extremely important to bridge that gap with more positivity and love. Even if you don't have a ton of friends or thousands of followers, you can make a difference by spreading love to the kid in school everyone says is weird, the homeless man you pass on the street, the teacher that no one likes. Don't fear the things you don't understand. You can make a difference by spreading happiness to these people.

Tyler Mitchell Photo courtesy of American Eagle Outfitters

If you could tell the next generation one thing, what would you want them to know?

No matter how far from the top you start, don't stop trying to get there. Learn to appreciate the struggle because it makes every bit of success you earn feel so much sweeter. Don't change for anyone, but also know you're not right about everything and be willing to debate on things you're passionate about.

"Most importantly, be nice."


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