Amy Pence-Brown, a 40-year-old performance artist and blogger, was tired of people trying to make women feel bad about their imperfect bodies.
That frustration drove the Idaho mother to take action. As depicted in a video that has now gone viral, Pence-Brown recently visited Boise's Capital City Public Square donning just a black bikini and a blindfold.
Pence-Brown then posted a chalkboard sign in front of her, which read:
“I'm standing for anyone who has struggled with a self-esteem issue like me. Because all bodies are valuable. To support self-acceptance, draw a '♥' on my body.”
By the end of the hour, however, she wasn't just covered with hearts, but lots and lots of heartfelt, upbeat messages of encouragement by people moved by her cause.
Among the messages written across her body by were:
- “Thank you”
- “You are beautiful”
- “Stand strong”
Pence-Brown told Boise State Public Radio that she considers herself to be a 'fat activist' and a member of the body positive movement, adding that she was inspired by an international group who filmed a similar performance piece last Spring in London:
She wrote about the performance piece on her blog, “Doin It All, Idaho Style”:
“How would [a performance like this] be received if the woman had been less socially acceptable in appearance, like, fat? And, say, a mom who's nearly 40 years old? And in a place that was more conservative and less progressive than London like, say, Boise, Idaho?”
Pence-Brown also added that she was nervous in the moments leading up to the unveiling, telling Boise State Public Radio that she was “sweating from nerves and [90 degree heat]” but that:
"...feeling that first marker slip from my hand, the sort of relief that came over me – and then hearing the woman’s voice in my ear and she was crying and I started crying and I was so thankful that the blindfold would catch all of the tears that continued to flow over the next hour.”
Her proudest moment? She told Boise State Public Radio that it was when a father stopped by with his two young sons. Leaning down close to Pence-Brown and his sons, he told them to look at her then said:
“This, this is what a beautiful woman looks like.”
She acknowledged that she was overwhelmed and encouraged by the quick response and feedback to her anti-body shaming project.
Even with all the encouragement she received, Pence-Brown said she doesn't plan on repeating the performance project. Instead, she'll be focusing on writing and other creative works to promote the body positive movement.