28 March 2017

The Girl And Her Clothes

Sometime, last year, there was this video that I saw on Facebook. I learnt later that it was part of a UNICEF social experiment.  It showed a six year old girl, Anano, a child actor, dressed shabbily, loitering around restaurants and street squares of Georgia, clearly looking helpless and lost. The intention was to capture people’s reactions to the girl. Would they help her? Approach her? Talk to her? How would they respond to her?

 Most people moved away. They didn’t ask her where she wanted to go or where her parents were - nothing at all. They simply walked away from her, throwing questioning, “What are you doing here, you dirty girl” glances at her. Those who were eating looked away, avoiding eye-contact with the girl who clearly looked very hungry and would have appreciated if someone offered her something to eat. One lady actually pulled her bag closer to her, fearing theft. One man asked the waiter to take the girl away. 

All of them distrusted her, disliked her. She seemed to be  intruding into their space. She clearly didn’t belong there, had no right to be there. 

The same girl had earlier been groomed well and dressed in beautiful clothes, with neatly done hair and face. She looked rich. She gave the impression of being the lost kid of wealthy parents. How did the people react then?

Many approached her and inquired where her parents were. The ones at the restaurant offered her a seat, an indulgent glance and admiring looks. Many smiled at her. Some bent down, spoke to her and waited with her for a while, hoping her family would come. Most of them were concerned as to how did the sweet, angelic child was all alone at an eatery or in a public place without a guardian. 
UNICEF concluded their research saying, among a host of other things, that the world’s poorest kids are more likely to die before their fifth birthday. They wrote that the poor kids, the world over, would be constantly malnourished.

It was a very telling experiment, indeed. Google 'Anano Unicef' if you wish to watch the video. 

It was the same girl. They were the same people. But their responses differed so drastically; simply because she was dressed differently. In fact, the experiment had to be called off because Anano started crying when she saw how people pushed her away.

I thought all of our religions taught us to be, least of all, kind. But then, maybe it takes a lot for us to look beyond outward appearances; almost superhuman efforts. No matter how many such videos come, transformation of the heart is never going to happen. We will share, like, comment and make socially appropriate noises and say ‘oh it is so sad for the girl’. And then, go right back to going gaga over pictures of friends’ kids dressed to kill and turn our noses up at the sight of a “poor” kid.

Maternal instincts, humanity, concern, respect, and a few kind words are not free. You have to earn them – with the right clothes, right shoes, right complexion, right hairdo, and right accent.


  1. Well written post with some some home truths!

  2. Interesting blog post. You just mentioned “Georgia”. But did not say if this one is Georgia, a state within the USA or an independent country named Georgia. The people in the state of Georgia in USA are known for their warm hospitality. I would be surprised if this happened in the Georgia State in USA.

  3. I remember reading about that experiment too....People can be really heartless and unsympathetic....

  4. Very well written with deep insight! Children no matter from what background deserve a better deal!