If you are a Sweat Life reader — or even if you are new to what we do (hello!) — you’ve most likely found your way to our little piece of the internet because you are interested in living your best life. In other words, you are living empowered: empowered to be happy, empowered to be healthy, empowered to be fit. Empowering people is pretty much our biggest goal.
So, when I first met fellow entrepreneur Renata Black and heard about her underwear line, Empowered by You, it felt like a match made in heaven. Empowered by You is not only made for the active woman (with amazing sweat wicking technology), but the company’s entire mission is to flip the power of undergarments for women from being a tool for the purposes of seduction into a tool of self empowerment. And - a portion of the proceeds of each sale goes to support female entrepreneurs around the world. Pretty great, right?!
The next day, I called Renata, and told her that I had an idea for a campaign. I wanted to do a photo shoot with people from all across the health industry and beyond, of all different shapes and sizes — real people, non photoshopped — in her product, and use the photos as a way to showcase what empowers them. This week, I am honored to be showcasing the result of this amazing project, and you will also be hearing stories of empowerment from the incredible people who were a part of it.
I feel obliged to note what may be a hot topic for some, but one of our goals with the campaign was to have it also reflect racial diversity, and largely due to availability and how things just shook out, we failed on that front. I didn’t have to write this, but I guess I just wanted to put that out there - in my efforts to always be transparent. It was a little disappointing to us, but does not for one second take away from the power of the incredible people who are showcased in this campaign!
Additionally, something I could never have predicted was how truly empowering the photoshoot itself would be. When I sent an email out to our community about being part of an underwear shoot, I understood the apprehensions we were met with. Even I was nervous about it, and I’m not exactly shy to bare my body - as you all know! However, once we were on set, in the trusting hands of Chris Fanning behind the camera, me directing, and surrounded by so much of our fitness family, it just turned into a trusting love fest that made me realize that so much of what empowers me is this community, and that I so deeply and truly love what I do.
As each person stepped onto set wearing a pair of Empowered by You underwear, and a t-shirt that said “Empowered by (A WORD OF THEIR OWN CHOOSING),” I told them to think about the word they chose and to try and embody that throughout the shoot. And for each of us, the thought of how we looked in our underwear seemed to melt away, and tapping into our source of empowerment seemed to take over and left us all feeling, well - empowered.
There is another layer to this campaign - Valentine’s Day. When I met Renata, she shared with me that she is from Columbia, and in Columbian tradition the focus of Valentine’s Day is not necessarily romantic love or a day where men are meant to shower women in flowers and chocolate (a tradition that too often makes so many of us single women feel like we have somehow failed in life). Instead, it is a celebration of all love — love between family, between friends, and yes, also between lovers. This story brought tears to my eyes, and I knew this had to be our Valentine’s Day campaign.
As you all may or may not know, my mother - the love of my life - passed away a year ago on Valentine’s Day. Her name was Vivian (Vivi), so I decided the day would still be V-Day — but for me, it would be Vivi Day! Not only was my mother truly my deepest source of love, but she was also my ultimate source of empowerment. Since I was a child she empowered me to embrace who I was, chase my dreams, and regularly told me how talented, special, and beautiful I was. I now know there is no greater gift a mother can offer a daughter than just that — empowering her with the knowledge that she is loved and believed in, which, in turn, allows her to love and believe in herself.
So I really could not think of a better campaign to honor the first annual Vivi Day. A campaign that celebrates empowerment, self love, love in general — and well, one that gets people to dance around in their underwear (something my mother did quite regularly). Additionally, I feel so blessed to be able to have worked on such a special and positive campaign in the weeks and days leading up to what will surely be one of the hardest days I have experienced since my mother has passed. While I know in certain ways it should be a day of celebration, for those of you who have lost loved ones, you know that is just easier said than done. And you know what, I think being sad is perfectly okay. I miss my mother every single day and I am heartbroken that she is gone, and the fact that a year of my life will have now passed without her in it is just tough to bear - and I am just going to give myself the permission to be sad about it.
However, even in my sadness, I can’t lose sight of how much there is to be happy about — and this campaign embodies so much of that. I am happy that I get to spend my days doing something that I love with people that I love. And am truly happy and honored that we have so many people in our Sweat Life world who are willing to bare both their body and their soul, all to empower our community. We are so inspired to share the amazing letters they wrote for this week’s content, about the word that empowers them: read why holistic chef Candice Kumai is empowered by sunshine, Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Matty Maggiacomo by community, cancer survivor Sam Jorgenson by survivors, SWERVE head trainer Dyan Tsiumis by love, Flex Studios trainer Jenn Seracuse by guts, and so many more.
Most of all, I am happy to bring together this community of people that builds each other up, pushes each other forward, and roots each other on. Thank you for supporting me, and supporting each other. Every damn day.
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life