This mom stood on a busy sidewalk in her bathing suit. She was left in tears.
"You are more than a number on a scale."
Amy Pence-Brown woke up terrified on Aug. 29, 2015, after a restless night's sleep.
She was about to do something she'd never done before: stand in a crowded farmers market in a bathing suit. Alone and blindfolded.
"I was scared that I might get asked to leave by the police," Pence-Brown, a mom of three, wrote on her blog. "Or that people would yell terrible things at me."
You might be thinking: Why would anyone want to do that?
Pence-Brown, who admits she's struggled with low self-esteem, didn't strip down because she craves attention. She was curious to see how the world would react to her body.
A few weeks ago, a similar social experiment made waves online. A woman who'd struggled with an eating disorder stripped down to just her underwear and encouraged strangers to write on her. It caught Pence-Brown's attention.
"How would it 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?"
So she took the clothes off, put the blindfold on, and propped up a sign that directed passersby on how they could support her cause:
“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 heart on my body."
Moments later, Pence-Brown's nerves were gone, replaced by love and admiration.
People didn't just draw hearts — they shared hugs and tears with her, too. And, throughout the nearly one hour she stood there, pedestrians covered her body with empowering words she never anticipated:
Badass. THANK YOU. You are gorgeous. You look great. Inspire. Love. Strong.
Pence-Brown told Upworthy that reactions to her experiment have been "overwhelmingly positive."
"It seems people have, in so many cases, been waiting for someone else to stand up with them and say, 'I'm tired of hating myself, too,'" she said. "Body shaming, either by yourself or others, causes so much harm and never helps."
"You are more than a number on a scale. In fact, you are more than your body at all."
Sometimes it takes standing in a bathing suit — in a crowded farmers market and blindfolded, no less — to remember that "in a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act."