After meeting a Cambodian girl who had been sexually abused, Elliot Costello decided to paint his fingernail to represent the one in five children who will be a victim of sexual abuse during their lives.
Costello had been traveling with a group called Hagar International through Cambodia in order to make an impact in underprivileged areas, A Plus reports. When Costello arrived, he realized there was an issue that affects more than just the children in Cambodia: sexual assault.
During his trip, Costello met Thea. While the two painted their nails, Thea told Costello that she had been sexually assaulted. That’s when he told Thea that he would keep one fingernail painted in remembrance of her and her experience.
After returning from his trip, Costello started the Polished Man project, which encourages men to paint one fingernail for a week in recognition of the children who are victims of sexual assault.
According to the Polished Man website, the project is meant to challenge violent behavior and language. Costello suggested that men should be the voice of change for this, since 96 percent of this type of violence is driven by men.
Costello noted that the Painted Man project shouldn’t just be a momentary fad, but the start of an important conversation. In the future, he hopes the project will lead to educational programs and resources for survivors of child sexual assault.