Inspired by Amanda Palmer‘s 2012 TED talk “The Art of Asking,” the Australian-born activist stripped down to her bra and underwear in the middle of Piccadilly Circus in London to make a powerful statement about positive body image. A member of a group called The Liberators International, the blindfolded West held markers and invited people to draw hearts on her body. Lying against her legs was a sign that explained her mission.
“I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self-esteem issue like me…To support self-acceptance draw a [heart] on my body,” the sign read. That she confessed to suffering from an eating disorder herself made the message all the more powerful.
The body image activist filmed her social experiment, but as you can see, when she first begins, no one approaches her. West, recalling how she felt vulnerable in her own skin, explained on her blog that it felt as if time wouldn’t go by. “As the minutes passed, it felt like hours,” she wrote. Fortunately, people started approaching her to draw little hearts.
Upon feeling the first touch on her skin, West gushed that it was “one of the most overwhelming feelings of relief, gratitude, and love.” But the one moment that will stay with her forever was when she overheard a father explaining to his children what she was doing.
“He was acknowledging the fact that everyone should love themselves exactly as they are and appreciate the bodies that they are given,” she wrote. “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.”
By the end of the video, West has amassed a ton of hearts and even gained support from local police, who didn’t stop her from stripping down to her bottoms. She ended her experiment by giving the authorities “a hug of thanks.”