Underwear Campaign Challenges Gender Norms with Double-Mastectomy Models
"Each of them had a really impressive and inspiring story that I think other people can learn from," says Abby Sugar, co-creator of the gender-neutral Play Out underwear line
Editor’s note: There are some potentially revealing photos below
Play Out underwear is pushing gender boundaries even further with its new ad campaign, which features shirtless women who have undergone double-mastectomies wearing the brand’s unique, unisex undergarments.
“We were really inspired by our friend Emily,” co-founder Abby Sugar tells PEOPLE of the summer campaign’s concept. “We had seen some photos that she had taken after her double-mastectomy, and she was really the catalyst.”
The conversation-sparking photo series stars women who are breast cancer survivors, all with their own unique backstory.
“Each of them had a really impressive and inspiring story that I think other people can learn from, and since we only do bottoms, it was perfect,” says Sugar, 27. “It was a mutually beneficial and really wonderful collaboration.”
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According to a press release for the brand, 58 percent of women choose not to have breast reconstruction post-mastectomy, including the three women in the campaign, who are now bilaterally flat.
“Clad only in Play Out underwear, all three women appear breastless and topless in a body-positive photo series challenging the normative assumptions of gender presentation, femininity and what it means to be ‘sexy,’ ” the release reads.
The photos are part of a collaboration with FlatTopper Pride, a breast cancer support community.
Sugar first founded the Play Out line with Sylvie Lardeux in 2011 to create underwear that isn’t gendered in stereotypical ways.
“We originally started the line because we couldn’t find what we wanted out there,” she explains. “We were looking for a men’s style but that fit a woman’s body, and we were really tired of pink, lace and flowers.”
Together, they designed two styles designed to fit men and women that feature bright and bold graphics.
“For women, it’s all pastel-colored and very gendered, and pointing you in one direction that society expects,” Sugar says. “Everyone can wear bright-colored underwear. That’s what we were looking for and couldn t find, so that’s why we just had to make it.”