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.]