The first time I ever attempted to put nail polish on my finger, it was speckled with glitter. My mother's response? A gentle sigh and a look of resignation directed at my father. But now Australia-based Elliot Costello is urging men to paint a fingernail to help change the world.
The co-founder of the non-profit organization YGAP, Costello is sporting one black-painted fingernail when he sits down with Out to explain to the importance of his Polished Man campaign -- and why painting a fingernail is something every man has an obligation to do.
Costello is challenging men to paint one of their fingernails (it seems the right ring finger is a popular choice) as a daily reminder of the millions of girls and boys worldwide who have been abused. "It's a conversation starter," he says, referring to the painted fingernail as a way to address the startling statistic that one in five children throughout the world are physically and/or sexually abused before the age of 18. It's a staggering and horrifying number, and Costello thinks men can be part of the solution to combat this reality by deciding to stand in solidarity. "Men have the power to be leaders, protectors, change makers, and they must act," and Costello says one to do so is by embracing the Polished Man campaign, which means willingly painting a fingernail and donating to the cause.
Although it can be seen as a form of passive activism, Elliot feels that being a Polished Man provides men with the opportunity and outlet to take action against the unspeakable violence that these children have endured all across the world rather than feeling impotent to do anything. He and the entire Polished Man team are encouraging men to paint one of their fingernails and donate money between October 1 through 15.
The inspiration for Polished Man, a cause Elliot feels extremely passionate about, occurred from his experience meeting a Cambodian orphan named Thea. While on work-related business, he was introduced to the 12-year-old who had suffered through two years of physical and sexual abuse by the director of an orphanage in which she was living. She managed, however, to communicate with Elliot by painting his fingernails and drawing a heart in the palm of his hand. The compassion Thea felt toward Elliot, a complete stranger, moved him "beyond words," and motivated him to spearhead this campaign.
With the help of men, as well as women, around the world, people are uniting under this cause. "Violence against children is a global issue," Elliot explains, "And everybody bears a certain amount of responsibility toward ending it."
For ways to get involved, visit PolishedMan.com. Watch a video that shows Costello's inspiration to start Polished Man: