Be a #PolishedMan for October


From 1-31 October, YGAP is encouraging men to paint a single fingernail. There's a reason for the selective polishing; the Austrailian-based nonprofit organisation is conducting a social impact campaign to raise awareness for child physical and/or sexual violence. Called Polished Man, the campaign calls on men specifically, slotting them with the task of raising awareness and funds for the cause.

Polished Man starts with painting a fingernail. That nail leads to a conversation. That conversation inspires a donation. That donation allows for awareness, prevention and protection. 

To understand the significance behind the polish, we have to hear the story of Thea. Her father passed away when she was just eight, and Thea's mother sent her to an orphanage in the vain hope of giving her stability where her home had none. For two years Thea suffered daily physical and sexual abuse from her western caretaker. Eventually, she was rescued and taken to Hagar International, an global organisation dedicated to recovery of abused women and children. When YGAP's CEO Elliot Costello was visiting Cambodia, he met Thea. That's where she drew a heart on his palm and painted his nails blue. He decided to paint one nail blue in remembrance of Thea and her struggle. Later, he learned that one in five children have had a traumatic experience before the age of 18. Polished Man was started shortly after.

Now in its third year running, the campaign has been supported on social media by actors Chris Hemsworth, Tyler Blackburn, and Gabriel Macht, and singer/songwriter Vance Joy among countless others. To date, the campaign has raised $257,227 to be donated to trauma recovery and prevention programs for children at risk. A portion of the funds will go towards projects at Hagar International, The Australian Childhood Foundation, and The New York Centre for Children and World Vision Australia.




Focusing on men begs the question, why exclude women? My guess is that women are free to have a combination of different coloured polishes or randomly polished nails. Seeing a man with painted nails is impactful. Getting into the root of it, men are, for the most part, responsible for the atrocities against children. In fact, 90% of all sexual violence against children is committed by men. It makes sense to have them "lead the way, to start conversations and challenge the culture from where they stand." Ultimately, the nature of the campaign means that women have little opportunity to support the cause. Well, the good people at YGAP have thought of a way to remedy that.

A side-project of the campaign is to "celebrate positive masculinity." Those men brave enough to broadcast their support on social media are thrusting themselves into the public eye. Open to scrutiny, misunderstanding, and judgement, a Polished Man has the gall to stand behind his beliefs, even if his support is nontraditional. Via to the Polished Man website, women are asked to encourage men to undergo the Polishing, publish a selfie with the caption, "I prefer a #PolishedMan," assist with polishing when needed, and even paint a special nail for the month, if so inclined. Stating preference for a Polished Man counteracts the negativity associated with men polishing their fingernails.

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