The Moving Reason Men Are Painting Their Nails

Photographed by Mike Garten.
If you've been watching the Mets in the playoffs recently (and if you're a Yankees fan, I can understand why you haven't been), you might've noticed something extra on catcher Travis d'Arnaud's nails. His bright-orange manicure helps the pitcher see the signs he calls more clearly. Outside of the baseball diamond, though, many men are painting their nails for a different cause: to raise awareness for child abuse.

When Elliot Costello, founder of the nonprofit organization YGAP, visited Cambodia in 2013, he met a young girl named Thea. Despite the language barrier, the two instantly bonded and, at the end of the night, the girl painted Costello's nails a bright-blue shade. The next day, Costello learned Thea's backstory.

"Thea’s mother chose to send her to an orphanage, in hopes [that] she would be granted a safe refuge following her father’s death — she was given anything but," Costello tells Refinery29. "At just eight years old, Thea was raped on a daily basis for two years by the orphanage caretaker — the very man who was meant to protect her." A story like this would break anyone's heart, but it spurred Costello to action, too. So he started Polished Man, an organization that challenges men to paint one of their nails in honor of the one in five children who experience physical and/or sexual violence before the age of 18. (90% of those crimes are perpetrated by men.)
Photo: Courtesy of The Polished Man.
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The painted nails serve as conversation-starters about a worldwide, often unvoiced crisis. "Through the campaign, our goal is to remove the stigma around the conversation of physical and sexual violence against children. We hope the campaign brings awareness to this issue globally, while raising funds to create real change for trauma-recovery and prevention efforts," Costello says. "By promoting positive male role models who support equality and child rights, we can create a community of male change-makers."

Since its inaugural year, the campaign has reached more than 150 countries, and more than 2,800 men have signed up and fundraised around the world — including celebrities Alec Baldwin, Mario Batali (above right), and former New York Jets player Tony Richardson (above left). The fundraiser continues through November 11, and you can encourage friends and family members to donate through the campaign's site. If you're in the New York tri-state area, you can also participate in a charity spin ride at Swerve fitness this Saturday.

Come one, come all and sign up — and enlist your S.O., brother, father, uncle, or friends — to be a part of the man-i-cure. We look forward to seeing more polished men out there.
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