By Jae West
Aug 18, 2015
As I stepped onto the streets of Piccadilly Circus with white board and markers in one hand and blindfold in the other, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of vulnerability at what I was about to do. Observing the members of the public on a casual Sunday lunchtime, oblivious to the fear-ridden chatter that was going on in my head. I’d seen a large number of families and individuals of different cultures in the area and was worried about offending them with exposing my body in the act of freedom that I was about to embark on.
As my clothes fell to the ground and I placed the blindfold over my eyes I could feel a shift of attention and confusion stirring in the air. My heart was racing while all the worst case scenarios were going through my head. I was scared that no one was going to draw a love heart on my body and I was going to be left out there in the open in my underwear on show to be ridiculed.
As the minutes passed it felt like hours. Usually during public experiments we have a couple of people planted in the crowd to act like onlookers and step in if nothing happens, however I knew that Elliot and Pete were the only ones out there and both of them were on camera’s so I really was putting full trust in the public to step up to the plate. All of a sudden I felt one of the pens in my left hand slip out of my grasp. The feeling of the felt pen was on my skin was one of the most overwhelming feelings of relief, gratitude and love that I’ve ever felt. I just burst into tears. I don’t know who that first person was but I am so thankful for their contribution. After that first love heart was drawn it felt like others were liberated to follow suit because soon all the pens were leaving my hands at a rapid pace!
One of the most moving and inspiring moments for me was listening to a Father explain to his children what I was doing. He was acknowledging the fact that everyone should love themselves exactly as they are and appreciate the bodies that they are given. It warmed my heart to know that his children and others would grow up understanding the impact of this global issue and have a feeling of contribution after drawing a love heart on my body. If everyone could know and appreciate how beautiful they are from childhood I think this world would be a very different place.
With the growing prevalence of eating-disorders and self-esteem issues around the world, this public act of self-acceptance aims to get people to question the true relationship that they have to themselves and body-image.
This was made as part of the Liberators International tour through Europe & you can watch the experiment here
What did the Police say?
The English police were supportive of my decision to stand and simply asked if I had others watching over me in the space for safety concerns. At the end of the experiment, i got dressed and was able to give a hug of thanks.
Where did the idea come from?
Body image and self-acceptance is something that I have always been passionate about endorsing after experiencing an eating disorder myself through high school and my early 20’s. As Richard Bach said ‘we teach best what we most need to learn’, so I believe it is part of my purpose for being here. One night I was watching Amanda Palmer’s TED talk ‘The Art of Asking’ and was truly inspired by her vulnerability and courage. She described how she had stripped naked to allow her fans to draw and write anything they wanted on her. That night as I was going to bed, the idea of linking the vulnerability of nudity with self-esteem issues in a public setting came to mind. Just the thought of looking down at my body and seeing it covered in love hearts from other people brought tears to my eyes. It was a reality check of how harsh we can be on ourselves, we really can be our own worst critics. The unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves can cause us to reject the love that others openly give because of a feeling of unworthiness. I knew this was a global concept that many people could relate to, so putting myself in that situation really was a stand for everyone out there that has been confronted with self-doubt in relation to the way they look.