She stood arms outstretched in just her underwear in one of the busiest squares in the world.
The young woman walked through Piccadilly Circus with a blindfold and a sign.
She had a purpose and as she moved through the crowd nobody took a second look.
Placed a sign at her feet then undid her dress allowing it to fall to the ground.
Still no one took much more than a second glance.
In just her underwear she blindfolded herself and stood arms stretched.
And stood waiting.
Jae West, a British woman in her late 20’s, was about to become famous.
But it isn’t fame she is seeking.
It is acceptance of the way she looks, and it isn’t just acceptance for her. She wants it for every body of every shape and size.
Jae, who suffered an eating disorder when she was at school and in her early 20’s, said her social experiment aimed to highlight body image and self-acceptance.
“I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self-esteem issue like me…To support self acceptance, draw a [love heart] on my body.” Her sign read.
Jae has since written of how it felt to first remove her dress.
“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.
‘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.
The reaction from passersby warmed her heart.
“I think it’s amazing what you’re doing” said one.
And another “very strong message, you’re brave”.
Watch the amazing video here:
Jae is a part of a group called The Liberators International who aim to raise awareness of social issues – other experiments they have conducted include a Perth train party, an eye contact experiment and a pop-up dance party with strangers on the London underground.
Jae, who is a founding member of The Liberators says that this latest experiment has given her hope:
“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.”
The group have released a video of the experience with one startling statistic at the end from the Centre For Appearance Research 2012 which found that 60% of adults report feeling ashamed of the way they look.
“Share this video to change that” they ask.