It was a normal Thursday morning for Christen Brandt. But as the New Yorker headed into the crowded subway station at 34th Street — Herald Square, a stranger addressed her.
"Damn, you have some great legs," he said.
Brandt, who at the time was wearing a warm parka and a pair of tall boots, ignored the man and walked away. He kept following her.
"Did you hear me, honey? I said you have nice legs," the stranger said. "Damn! Thank you."
"It was the 'thank you' that got me," Brandt wrote on Facebook of the encounter. "As if my 5 inches of legging-covered skin were there for him. Given as a gift wrapped in brown tights. Existing in the world for him to appreciate, or not."
Brandt also posted the photo of her outfit on Facebook, where it quickly went viral.
Brandt, the co-founder of She's The First, an organization that provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries, made an important point in her post about the all-too-prevalent belief that street harassment is encouraged by the clothes victims wear. She was, as she noted, wearing a heavy coat during the encounter.
"Next time you wonder whether your skirt is too short, next time you ask your teen daughter to change her clothes, or the next time you hear about school dress codes in the news, remember this photo," she wrote. "All women have these moments. All of us. And yet the world acts as if it's still our problem to fix."
A 2014 study by anti-harassment movement Hollaback! and Cornell University found that 85 percent of U.S. women experience street harassment before the age of 17. According to Hollaback!, one of the most powerful ways to stop street harassment is by speaking out and sharing your story, which is exactly what Brandt did. Through her brave post on Facebook, Brandt empowered other women to speak out about their experiences.