When genderless underwear company Play Out did a photoshoot featuring breast cancer survivors as models, the movement was a huge step forward in bringing awareness to the way we view women who have had double-mastectomies without reconstruction. And now, Play Out has done it again — on the runway.
Two of the models from the original photo shoot, Emily Jensen and Melanie Testa, strutted their stuff on the catwalk in Play Out underwear for an NYC Pride fashion show. The show took place during Rainbow Fashion Week, a week which is dedicated to LGBT designers and style.
Play Out co-founder Abby Sugar told Mashable in an email that broadening the visibility of women who have undergone mastectomies is vital in altering how society perceives female beauty.
“After having a double-mastectomy, Emily shared photos of herself on Facebook, on vacation, topless and flat,” said Sugar, who was friends with Emily long before she began working with Play Out. “These were very powerful, strong images, and even though we knew Emily as a dear friend, we didn’t know how much she went through daily as a breast cancer survivor. Not only that, but as a person who stood out against society’s expectations of feminine beauty and the dominant narrative of reconstruction after mastectomy.
Sugar says that it’s important that people are aware of “flattoppers,” or women who have undergone mastectomies and chosen to remain flat-chested.
“We wanted to help these women not only show that you can be yourself, no matter your gender presentation or after a cancer diagnosis, but get the word out about FlatTopper Pride (the nonprofit organization that Emily started), a space for LGBT people dealing with breast cancer and breast removal to find support.”
While participating in a runway fashion show might seem counterculture to the message behind Play Out, the women behind it are keen on changing society’s perception of gender presentation.
“We also want to make sure to be seen by a wider audience and keep breaking down barriers in terms of gender expectations,” writes Sugar. “It’s underwear, no matter your gender presentation or sexual orientation (gay, straight, bi, pan, etc.), we should all be able to wear whatever underwear makes us feel sexy and affirms our sense of self.”
Play Out has some advancements in their product line coming, as well. In keeping with their message of body-positivity, the brand is set to unveil plus-size options, new designs, tank tops and bandeaus.
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