Activist who went flat post-mastectomy poses in SKIMS bra campaign: 'There is power and liberation in owning who we are'

Samantha Paige — pictured in the second row, all the way to the right — was one of many women photographed for the latest SKIMS bra campaign. (Photos: Vanessa Beecroft)
Samantha Paige — pictured in the second row down, all the way to the right — was one of many individuals photographed for the latest SKIMS bra campaign. (Photos: Vanessa Beecroft)

Taking part in SKIMS' latest and biggest bra campaign yet along with a parade of A-listers that includes Brooke Shields, Indya Moore and Chelsea Handler is a seemingly unlikely candidate: Artist, activist and parent Samantha Paige, who has no breasts, and has gained notoriety over the years for her openness about going flat post-mastectomy.

"I have historically been a very private person. however, when it came to sharing images and words around my reclaimed self, i have wanted to scream or project it from the rooftops. shame corrodes us. it breaks us down and makes us feel as if we are less than, broken and unworthy," Paige (who uses they/she pronouns) explained in a Friday Instagram post in which they reflected on "why it felt important and liberating" to partake in the campaign — noting that it is similar to when they decided to bare her mastectomy scars for an Equinox Fitness campaign in 2017.

"These opportunities … to strip it down and bare it all—figuratively or literally—are the possibility of showing first and foremost myself and then my daughter and whoever else may want the reminder that there is power and liberation in owning who we are," she continued.

Paige, 46, underwent a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction back in 2008 after testing positive for the BRCA-1 gene mutation, which brings an increased risk of breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

"I got the biggest implants my body would take and walked away from it with a gorgeous pair of breasts that were big and perky," Paige told Yahoo Life in 2018. But the new breasts were numb, uncomfortable during exercise, and seemingly causing all sorts of ailments through what appeared to be Breast Implant Illness. They decided to explant, and felt instant relief after doing so, undoubtedly inspiring other women to do the same, with 36,367 explanting in 2020 alone, according to latest stats from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Since then, she's been a visible flat-activist through the Last Cut Project, which led to her writing a book, Last Cut, with photos by Lisa Field, and, for a time, hosting the Last Cut Conversations podcast.

With SKIMS, Paige is taking that openness into the lingerie world — fitting for the brand, cofounded by Kim Kardashian and Jens Grede, that's focused on "creating the next generation of underwear, loungewear and shapewear and setting new standards by providing solutions for every body." A press release for this latest campaign noted, "Confidence starts within, and with this campaign, we are bringing all women together to celebrate all bodies and individuality." It's also fitting because some women who have gone flat post-mastectomy still opt to wear bras for a range of personal reasons, whether for physical comfort or for a little extra "fluff," aesthetically, under tighter clothes.

Paige preferred to not comment on the campaign beyond Instagram.

Fellow flat activist Renee Ridgeley, who heads the group Stand Tall: Aesthetic Flat Closure, tells Yahoo Life, "Visibility like this is important because if you can see it, you can be it."

She adds, "I think medical providers and people outside of the going-flat movement often don't realize that a woman can actually embrace her flat chest and see it as beautiful! Body positivity should not be underestimated. For many of us, we chose aesthetic flat closure because we do care what we look like, and we think flat can be beautiful."

Instagram commenters so far — on both Paige’s Last Cut Project and My Beautiful Alien accounts — have been celebratory, noting, "Major!", "Eternally epic are you," "SKIMS is flat friendly?! That's awesome! and "Just plain gorgeous."

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