The buzz in the room suddenly died down, although no announcement was made. The hush was to usher in Susan Sarandon, who ascended the circular stairs at NYC's Morgan's Hotel in a blue-and black graphic print wrap dress, to speak up on behalf of The Body Shop and their N-NO initiative.
No to child trafficking. No to sex trafficking of minors, and the arrest and prosecution of minors who've been recruited when they were too young or too poor to know any better.
Carol Smolenski, a spokeswoman for ECPAT USA explained that it's not just foreign children who fall prey to this situation. American children are recruited or kidnapped each year into this kind of life, and although no one knows for sure how many,
estimates run from 100,000 to a frighteningly high 500,000 – 600,000.
Sarandon explained that she got involved with project through Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who suffered the horror of abuse and sex trafficking as a child, but who survived and began a foundation to raise awareness to stop this practice. Mam was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2009 in an article by Angelina Jolie, and featured as a CNN Hero, among other honors.
Mam calls Sarandon her second mother, and despite Sarandon's sexiness and star quality, it's easy to see her maternal aura. The Oscar-winning actress emphasized that she chooses carefully what she puts her name and reputation on the line for — Sarandon credits Mam and her involvement with this project as giving her a valuable perspective on what real problems are.
Still, there can be a suspicion with product-linked campaigns like these, that it's just a gimmick to sell the product.
But I thought, what if every product you buy spends a dollar to do some good in the world? Too idealistic?
Technically, products already do that because they employ dozens or even hundreds of people to get the product to shelves. And these days, employment is a good thing.
But then Sarandon echoed my thoughts, saying how powerful it can be when corporate entities allow people "to match up their buying practices with actually having it go somewhere," adding, "Countries don't grow a conscious on their own. You have to demand change." This is something that can be changed, she stressed.
To that end, The Body Shop has a petition in stores and online for people to sign on to stop this practice. Celebrities on hand on the roll call already include Twilight's Robert Pattinson, actresses Sienna Miller, Uma Thurman, and more.
The new Soft Hands, Kind Heart hand cream with the N-No logo has a heady, clean blend of citrus and forest scents, which instantly transported me back to carefree childhood days wandering in the field next to our house. How appropriate, I thought. All these children the petition is seeking to protect deserve that carefree feeling.
The greaseless cream, made with angelica extract, also has fair trade olive oil from Italy, and $5 of the $7 pricetag goes to ECPAT USA! It feels good — and it feels good to make a difference.