• 10.30.15

    Dirty Bandits Recalibrates Self Value with Lean Cuisine

    Not a day goes by when Americans aren’t faced with their own systemic health issues. Whether it’s learning that red meat causes cancer or being encouraged to try the latest fad diet, our relationship with our bodies is always in the conversation. That constant drumming can have a negative effect on how we value ourselves, seeing our lives as lived only through our bodies at the risk of discounting the rest of our human experience. Lean Cuisine is fighting back against this obsession with their latest campaign 'Weigh This' that gives the power back to the consumer, letting them decide what it is that’s most important about them. Participants were encouraged to go online and tweet what they found most important to understanding their own human experience, what they think should be weighed as their value. Each participant chose their own value, placing it above what their bodies weigh. Dirty Bandits was brought in to illustrate what users put forward as their experience. Annica Lydenberg of Dirty Bandits transposed each idea onto a scale and hung them during a limited installation in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. 250 scales ended up creating a wall that dominated an entrance to the train station.

    The installation was open to the public and thousands of people walked by every day. There was one viewer that affected Annica a little bit more than she was expecting. “I think the most intense part was when this woman stopped by from Long Island,” says Annica. “She knew that her tweet was going to be used, so she and her husband came in to see the wall and check out the project. Hers was ‘Caring For Over 200 Homeless Children.’ To see her and realize that was her story, it made it just so much more real.” She was invited to put the scale on the wall herself. When Annica handed it to her, they cried together. “I didn’t know it would be that overwhelming to meet the people,” says Annica.

    The setting of Grand Central Terminal added a whole other element that put the wall of scales into particular focus because of the contrast of the public culture of the train station. “Usually in Grand Central you walk with your head down, you’re trying not to interact with people, you just need to get where you’re going,” says Annica. “It was different to know what struggles people had faced.” 750 thousand people pass through Grand Central every day, and every one of them has a story. It can be such a gift to remind ourselves that we get to write our own stories. We get to decide what will “weigh” as our value.

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