At this time of year, it's hard to go a day without seeing a newsfeed, advert or shop window celebrating the power of fitness, athleticism and gym wear. So often, the emphasis on physical perfection makes us feel guilty for missing a gym session or self-conscious at the thought of standing in a swimsuit in the local swimming pool.
So, it comes as a welcome relief that London-based gym Equinox has decided to promote a far more inspiring and aspirational message, focussed on commitment, bravery and meeting challenges head on.
They've launched a new campaign featuring a cancer survivor who decided to ditch her silicone breast implants in order to embrace her scars.
In new campaign footage, US artist Samantha Paige, who underwent an 'explant' — as opposed to implant — surgery eight years following her elective double mastectomy, shows off her scarred torso complete with floral pattern tattooed on her shoulder and chest.
In accompanying footage, the 41-year-old Californian talks to the camera as it pans out to show her scars, saying:
'Scars aren't ugly. Scars are really just beautiful badges reminding you what you chose to go against – not just the size of your opponent but the size of your commitment – because the things you commit to are the things that make you. And, when the things that make you,mark you. you'll know what commitment looks like.'
The striking photo comes in a series from the gym's campaign – shot by fashion photographer Steven Klein– with the theme 'Commit to Something' and claims to bring to the forefront 'topics rarely addressed in advertising including a woman's decision to embrace a new perspective on beauty after a double mastectomy'.
In an interview with People magazine, the mother explains her decision for her elective double mastectomy after tests showed she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation associated with a high risk of developing breast cancer.
'When my daughter was seven months old, my determination to be healthy for my baby was so strong that I decided it was the right time to preemptively have the double mastectomy. I didn't want to keep going for MRIs and mammograms every three to six months — it was too unnerving and the risk seemed too great.
'It's a huge surgery and a painful one, but for me [making that decision] was also a moment of empowerment and committing to something, which was to be in control of my own wellness,' she added.
Following an aggressive staph infection – that Paige links to her breast implants following her mastectomy – she decided to remove her implants and admits to feeling happier without them.
When the things that make you,mark you. you'll know what commitment looks like
Speaking of her decision to join Equinox's 2017 campaign, Paige says that it was the gym's inspiring message that appealed to her and she hopes it will encourage other men and women to love and cherish their bodies – scars and all.
''Commit to Something' is about being able to look at yourself in the mirror and realize who you are and stand up to those values. It just dovetails with what I believe in.
'After coming to this place of loving my body and every scar, my goal is to influence, first of all, how my daughter feels about her body as a growing woman, and if it can influence another person to do the same, I feel as if I have done something beautiful,' she added.
We couldn't think of a more inspiring message to start off 2017.