Love actually is all around. Eating disorder survivor Jae West put herself at the mercy of the public in a powerful experiment about body image — and the results were inspiring. As seen in video of the experiment, West undressed to her underwear in the middle of London’s Piccadilly Circus, then blindfolded herself and invited strangers to draw hearts on her bare skin to “support self-acceptance.”
“I’m standing for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self-esteem issue like me…” she wrote on a sign propped up in front of her. “To support self-acceptance draw a [heart] on my body.”
Passersby complied, using the pens she offered to cover her exposed stomach, arms, and legs in countless colored hearts. “I think it’s amazing what you’re doing,” one man told her as he scribbled on her wrist.
West wrote about the experiment in a blog post on Aug. 15, detailing the fear — and then relief — she felt while standing nearly naked in the crowded square.
“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,” she shared. “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 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.”
West said she did the experiment as a “public act of self-acceptance…to get people to question the true relationship that they have to themselves and body-image” — a relationship she’s struggled with herself, having experienced an eating disorder “through high school and [her] early 20s.”
“It was a reality check of how harsh we can be on ourselves, we really can be our own worst critics,” she wrote. “The unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves can cause us to reject the love that others openly give because of a feeling of unworthiness.”
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