Born This Great: Mission accomplished!

After weeks of preparation, the “Born This Great” action came to fruition!


On Saturday at 10 am, the six girls met at the About-Face office, nervous but excited to go out on the streets and make people think about body image and advertising (we missed you, Amy!).

After going over the logistics of the action, the girls took to the streets, lead by About-Face Executive Director Jennifer, About-Face intern Megan, and me. The nine of us arrived in Union Square and got down to business. Three girls set up right in front of the Skyy vodka ad with a woman’s hand unzipping a red jacket, in position to ask people what they thought of the ad. A few paces away, the three other girls set up the mirror/T-shirt station where individuals would be asked to write something positive about themselves.

After some practice, the girls became fearless in their pursuit of educating people on the street. They boldly stepped out in front of passersby and said “Hi, would you like to write something positive about yourself?” or “Can I have a minute of your time to answer questions about these ads?”

I don’t think anyone was prepared for the response from the community.
Over the course of the day 134 people, both men and women, stopped to check out the action. An overwhelming majority of participants were not only interested in what the girls had to say, but had extremely positive feedback as well. People left the action smiling, many declaring that they were “really glad” that we had done this.

We even had a large group of French tourists who, despite understanding very little English, were very enthusiastic about participating. One young man even took his paper T-shirt and walked away wearing it!


One man who didn’t seem very interested in our action (but stopped anyway) was truly impacted by the girls’ efforts. After three minutes of talking to them, he came to the realization that the Skyy vodka ad negatively affected consumers. He stated, “Wow, this really is an important issue.” Go girls!

By the end of the three hours, the Calvin Klein ad next to the mirrors station was completely covered with paper T-shirts proudly exclaiming how great their owners were. The messages on the shirts ranged from one woman’s love of her brown skin to another man’s appreciation for his chest hair that was “shaped like a phoenix.”

Finally, it was time to leave Union Square. The girls all trekked over to eat Mexican food at Rubio’s after the action was over, tired but smiling, content with the results of the day.

Kayla put it best, saying that even though some people refused to talk to the girls, so many people reacted positively that it was completely worth it. The girls really made a difference!


[This post was updated on Nov. 10, 2011. Videos were added. -Ed.]

10 thoughts on “Born This Great: Mission accomplished!

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  1. BRAVO!
    Keep making it happen, girls! You are making the world a better place and starting where it matters most, with yourselves and those closest to you – both known and unknown!
    You are all incredible!
    Keep inspiring, questioning, and sharing your brilliance!

  2. Way to go girls! I don’t even know you, but I am really proud of you for taking a stand and putting it into action. God bless you!

  3. Wonderful! I especially liked the lady holding the t-shirt that said “My Undyed Gray Hair,” considering my own hair is not dyed… and is gray. 😀

  4. This is great but I cringe at the thought of supporting the exploitation of other species by going out to eat dairy/meat after trying to reduce or end sexism in our culture. Sexism, speciesism and racism all stem from the same cause. Please consider the rights of other species as we fight for our own.

  5. Nancy – where did you read that they were eating dairy/meat? I read that they went out for Mexican – a cuisine in which there are many non-dairy and non-meat options.

  6. Nancy, I think your comment is a great one and that you’re absolutely right about sexism, racism, and speciesism stemming from the same issues, Tess is right, though–they never said anything about going out to eat meat and dairy products, only that they went for Mexican food. And as you probably know, tons of Mexican food is vegan. 🙂

  7. I am really proud of you girls!!!!!
    You guys are natural-born-creative-talent!
    I sincerely never thought things you girls did!
    Proud, proud..

  8. Hi, I saw both of your videos & read your article. It’s always been that way of the media, always thinking that they have a right to control how we feel as individuals, think of ourselves, and how we should act in our society. It sickens me that people that are women, teens, pre-teens, boys, and men have to see this every day, I pulled myself out of this crap of advertisements. I woke up, looked around carefully, examined my surroundings and saw that people were being controlled to think of the media. In elementary school, high school and now. I got myself out in elementary school, since I saw people change in front of me, they became something I knew in my heart that they weren’t, I couldn’t do anything and that frustrated me. Now when I see your group’s work, I feel encouraged to tell others it’s okay to be you for you, and that nobody else can be or control you. I am me and that’s what I have long been. I won’t change my style, life or thoughts just because the media told me and others to do, directly or indirectly. I decided this a long time ago, and this article gave me hope to see this again. We all have hearts, brains and souls, we have control of ourselves, people ain’t let the media take control of you, once you become controlled it’s hard to see the truth again.

  9. Awesome! Great way to really show the public how ads really are disrespectful to women. It was a great way to help the public as well remember what they love about themselves and what to always love about yourself. There should be nothing that anyone envies about someone else’s body.

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