Meet the latest woman to don a blindfold and a bikini for a project that's now gone global
The blindfold bikini project began as a one-off social experiment, but has since taken on a life of its own. To recap, this past August, body positivity activist Jae West entered London thoroughfare Piccadilly Square, stripped down to her underwear, blindfolded herself, and held up a sign announcing that she was standing there, exposed and vulnerable in a very public place, for anyone who had ever struggled with an eating disorder, and invited the public to take one of the markers she held in her hand and draw hearts on her body to support self-acceptance.
Lots of hearts were drawn, as well as messages of love and encouragement, and the experiment was considered a bonafide success. Inspired by these events, self-described “nearly 40-year-old fat feminist mother” Amy Pence-Brown conducted the same experiment in Boise, Idaho’s Capital City Public Market and was similarly overwhelmed with love and support.
As Bustle reports, the experiment was once again conducted last week in South Korea, a country with the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita. This time, the woman baring it all (well, ALMOST all) was English as a Second Language teacher Mary Ann Conlin, who has, over the course of her four years teaching in South Korea, experienced her fair share of body-shaming.
“My experience as a full-bodied woman here in Korea has not been a positive one,” Conlin explained to Bustle. “The first work environment that I was a part of, there was a lot of harassment about my weight,” she explains. “I would have my manager tell me, ‘Oh, you gained weight,’ or poke my belly.”
As self-conscious as Conlin has felt in an environment that does not embrace all body types, her insecurity did not stop her from wanting to do something big and bold to change the conversation about beauty in South Korea.
“This event was born out of my need for my own healing and then once I heal, then I feel better,” Conlin told Bustle. And then once I feel better, then more people are attracted into this space. That’s just natural.”
So how did Conlin’s turn with the blindfold go? Just like the women that came before her, Conlin was stunned at the outpouring of kindness and generosity. The pens were “rarely” in her hands, her body was covered with messages of love, and she did not hear one unkind thing said about her body during the experience.
To be fair, this might have been in part because Conlin was a foreigner. Bustle interviewed several passerbys, who were unsure if an average Korean woman performing this same experiment would have the same experience. Conlin’s aware of that, and still she believes that her experience was a positive and important one, not just for her, but for the community.
“That’s all I could do,” Conlin admitted to Bustle. “I have a free space. I can ask people to come and see what I’m doing. You see my body [and] I love myself just the way I am.”
We love that this body-positive experiment is now 3 for 3 and we can’t wait to see where it turns up next!
Image via Twitter