Woman strips on busy road to promote self-acceptance

On a Sunday afternoon in London, a 24-year-old woman stripped down to her underwear in the middle of a busy road.

No, this wasn't a drunken dare made by her friends. Jae West, an eating disorder survivor, did this to promote self-acceptance.

West blindfolded herself as she stood, half-naked, on the streets of Piccadilly Circus. A sign in front of her read, "I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self-esteem issue like me. To support self-acceptance draw a on my body."

On The  Liberators International blog, West wrote that she was terrified no one would step forward to draw a heart on her skin.

"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 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," she said.

"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 experiences, West said, was when she heard a father explaining to his young daughter what the experiment meant to him. He told her that everyone should love themselves exactly as they are and appreciate the bodies they are given.

"If everyone could know and appreciate how beautiful they are from childhood, I think this world would be a very different place," West said.

According to a Glamour body image survey, 97 percent of women admitted they have at least one negative thought about their body everyday! And men have body image worries too. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 43 percent of men are dissatisfied with their bodies.

As someone who has dealt with a negative body image for most of my life, I think what West did was very brave and raised awareness of a very important issue in the world today.

I have dealt with low self-esteem since middle school -- when I was the first girl in my class to get a pimple...and the last girl to grow boobs. This ultimately affected the way I've viewed myself ever since. But West's acceptance of her own body and her mission to help others accept their bodies made me want to stop letting my own issues hinder me as well.

 As West said, "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."

"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."

Many centers for eating disorder treatment specialize in body image awareness. To find a center near you, visit www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-centers.

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