I’m not here to tell you vandalism is OK. It’s usually not, and it’s really actually illegal. I am here to point out that not all vandalism is terrible. In fact, sometimes vandalism is pretty wonderful and inspiring. And maybe a little salty. A few days ago, a group of vandals (or possibly just one vandal, who knows) in Michigan made some alterations to a billboard advertising a plastic surgery group. The billboard, which featured two muffins and the practically non-sensical slogan, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Muffin Top” (side note: who wouldn’t let a friend muffin top? It is THE BEST part of the muffin) was spray-painted over to say “You’re Beautiful,” with (obviously) two smiley faces on the muffins, because everyone loves muffins.
The company, Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery, said they’d meant for the billboard to be comical, stating, “This ad is not to offend anyone. It’s simply to get people to chuckle. To see the lighter side of this ad.” I mean, I personally don’t see anything light, and I’m definitely not chuckling. I’ve had big hips my entire life. I try to love my body as much as I can, but ads like this do nothing to help.
Responses to the billboard’s defacement varied wildly. On Facebook, they ranged from “Love it!!!” to “Tasteless and rude.” Mostly though, commenters were put off by the initial messaging, and with good reason: An advertisement that’s basically saying, “Your alleged extra weight is not desirable, so come and let us chop it off for you!” isn’t supportive or encouraging. Plastic surgery is a totally fine choice if that’s what you’re into, but there are definitely smarter and kinder ways to go about promoting it. Which means, to my mind anyway, this vandal did us a service
So, in the spirit of hooligans-as-heroes, here are eight more awesome cases of benevolent vandalism:
1. The ‘Don’t Tell Us How We’ll Die!’ vandal:
I know this billboard is supposed to encourage more dudes to see their doctors, but I feel like AHRQ.gov using a waka-waka stereotype about men and insulting their target audience in the process isn’t the best way to go about it. So, bravo, vandal. You tell ’em.
2. The ‘Grammar is Still Important, Even if You’re Vandalizing’ vandal.
No matter what you do, don’t ever get caught mixing up “you’re” and “your.”
3. The ‘I’m Cleverly Using Technology to Make My Point’ vandal.
Much like the Ann Arbor vandalism, this message was presented to make us feel good about our bodies, as well as critique societal beauty standards and I really dig it.
4. The ‘I’m Going to Make a Political Statement About Free Love, oh by the way, I’m Banksy’ vandal.
Banksy is the God of Vandalism, and he’s really, really mighty. And talented. And believes that love is love, no matter who you are.
5. The ‘How About we NOT Judge Other People?’ vandal
This vandal strikes back at the “not in my backyard” cliché. People suffering from addiction are so often marginalized and stigmatized, society ostracizes them and it’s just not the compassionate thing to do. This visual protest at the Bloomington Recover Center in Indiana wants us to be kinder.
6. The ‘You Have to Break the Rules Sometimes’ vandal.
I love this street art by Eddie Colla. If you want to be successful, you have to be an independent thinker, above all. .
7. The ‘I’m Going to Make you Feel like a Million Dollars’ vandal.
Because it feels nice to receive an impromptu compliment once in awhile, right?
8. The ‘Here’s Some Motivation Wherever You Are’ vandal.
Sometimes, we just need a little push. Even if we’re only mailing a bill in our sweats.