Sammy Nickalls
October 09, 2015 9:13 am

In the past week or so, you may noticed men around you with a single painted nail. In fact, take a peek around Instagram, and you may notice the hashtag #polishedman floating around on your newsfeed, with men taking selfies of themselves and showing off their single, polished look. They didn’t forget to do the rest of their nails, nor did they give up halfway through — they’re doing it for an incredible reason that makes us love these men so much.

The Polished Man initiative is an effort to bring awareness to and combat physical and sexual violence against children. It was started by Elliot Costello, the CEO of YGAP, an organization that works to empower communities disadvantaged by poverty. The campaign is a global effort to highlight an incredibly sobering fact: An estimated 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 children are victims of violence before age 19. “It is important to acknowledge this is a global challenge,” Costello told Huffington Post. “While most men don’t perpetrate violence, 90 percent of sexual violence committed against children is perpetrated by men and we all have a responsibility to help change that.”

From October 1 – 15, men are painting just one nail, but that one nail speaks volumes. In fact, in 2014, its inaugural year, the campaign reached 54 million people. This year, it’s expected to be even larger, with funds being donated to local charities such as the New York Center For Children.

Costello came up with the idea when he was in Cambodia for a work trip and met a young girl named Thea. Even with the language barrier between them, the two talked for hours. At the end of their conversation, Thea painted Costello’s nails bright blue.

Later, he learned more about Thea’s story: She had lost her father when she was eight, and, since there was no family income, her mother sent her to an orphanage in hopes that they could provide her with a better life. At the orphanage, Thea was physically and sexually assaulted daily, by a member of the orphanage’s staff, the very person who was supposed to care for and protect her. The harrowing story stuck with him and it occurred to Costello that Thea’s nail polish was a perfect conversation starter about this incredibly important issue: Polished Man was born.

“Being a Polished Man means challenging violent behavior and language, both locally and globally,” the site reads. “We hope that as the campaign progresses each year, men will lead a change in the conversation about what it means to be a man — including leadership, mateship and courage that serves to help, not harm.”

Thousands of men have been taking to social media to share their support in the campaign and its mission.

Many have even been nominating their friends in an effort to spread the campaign even farther.

Others have been customizing their painted nail in support of a young person they know and love.

Those who participate can also create their own accounts on the site, where they can encourage their friends to donate. What an amazing cause to bring awareness to such a serious and important matter. Thank you, Polished Men, for shedding light on this issue in such a poignant way.

(Featured images via polishedman.com, other images via Instagram.)

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