Let's Be Clear Research

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Let’s Be

Clear Original Research / 2020

Guiding Question:

How might design help bring attention to the body?


The Team (Real Electric Ladies):

Riley Mehl Edith Freeman Lauren Abbott 02

01 — Contextual Inquiry

For our initial research, we explored four different methods of gathering data, to ensure we captured as many perspectives and needs as possible.


Directed Storytelling

To begin, we asked questions about nutrition, body image, mental health, and sexual empowerment.

We conducted four formal directed story telling interviews with women of varying relationship statuses, sexual experiences, and relationships with body image.

When asked “Which of these issues is most important to you?” and “What topic do you believe college has addressed the least?,” sexual empowerment and body positivity stood out as overwhelming promising areas of exploration.

We created safe spaces, and our questions were framed to encourage our participants to tell intimate stories from their life, allowing us to create connections across varied circumstances.

Graffiti Wall We displayed 12 posters in on-campus female and gender neutral restrooms to gather intuitive and anonymous responses to general questions such as, “What makes you feel sexually empowered?” “What makes you feel balanced?” & “What makes you feel good about yourself?”


Mood Boards We asked six women to create two Pinterest mood boards in response to the prompts: “What does unhealthy look like to you?” “What does healthy look like to you?”




This helped attach imagery and emotional tone to an idea that is hard to describe with only words. Through these mood boards, we were able to find many consistencies in how women differentiate “healthy” and “unhealthy.”

01 — Contextual Inquiry Insights

We had a LOT to work with, and to visualize the diversity of responses, we broke the common trends we found into categories; putting data from our various methods into sticky notes on each overarching idea.



College women generally experience guilt of some kind while navigating relationships with their bodies and sex. We define guilt as the absence of validation & support, and the presence of judgment & stigma.

One of the most influential factors in a woman’s sense of sexual empowerment and body positivity is the environment they inhabit. Supportive and judgment free spaces allow for uninterrupted self-reflection and discovery.



A sense of control and agency over one’s experience with their body is critical to a healthy lifestyle.

Self-perception is often swayed by external sources, when ideally it should come from within oneself.



New Guiding Question:

“How might conversation college-aged removing sham relationship w health, a 07

we stimulate that supports d women in me from their with their body, and sex?” 08

02 — Ideation

Our team came up with 60 different solutions to our problem ranging from installations, to music, artifacts, and commentaries on the functions of our society. We then narrowed our ideas down to a top three.

We understood throughout this process how difficult it is to work to solve a problem such as age-old female shame. We knew we wanted to stretch our thinking and create a product that’s main purpose wasn’t to be solely “marketable” but rather unconventional, provocative and a product that truly worked to shape user’s lives — and thus we went with Let’s Be Clear.



03 — Participatory Design Workshop

Participatory design workshops were our first chance to get to collaborate with non-designers, and we were beyond excited. We decided to craft the entire workshop around our participant’s own items to model the vulnerability of actually owning a clear side table.

Bring something:

Approximately 24 hours before the workshops, we sent a list of prompts to each participant, asking them to select an specific object and take it with them to the workshop. In an hour-long workshop, each participant engaged in various activities directly involving their items: writing love letters, sorting, and storytelling.

You will never get rid of I’ve never seen before That makes your body feel good You wouldn’t want the last person you had sex with to see You wouldn’t want your mom to see You find comforting That fuels your confidence You use daily


The essential finding from these workshops was that our participants demonstrated an appreciation and personal connection with every object they brought to us, but opted to hide about half of them when asked to sort the items into a clear box and black box.


Additionally, these workshops taught us that shame is very much learned; the women often had specific stories, often involving a sexual/romantic partner, that they could attribute as the reason for their shame. Both of these insights confirmed that Let’s Be Clear was the provocative and effective solution we hoped it would be.

04 — Prototyping

Although it presented us numerous challenges, prototyping was the final important step in bringing our vision together. We needed the nightstand to be full size in order to achieve the impact we wanted.

We modeled the main compartment of the nightstand on Rhino, and then sent it to the laser cutter. We used 1/4” acrylic, and then attached black metal hairpin legs onto the base to not only save money and reduce the use of plastic, but also as a stylish fun piece!



05 — Final Product

Let’s Be Clear encourages women to make the cognitive choice to not only select artifacts to put on display, but also address what happens when objects that are normally hidden aren’t anymore.

This provides an opportunity for women to both reflect on their own values, as well as have active conversations and gain agency over these objects—as they are a physical manifestation of who they are at their core.


Creating Let’s Be Clear was one of the most rewarding experiences of my design career thus far.

I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and this was an amazing opportunity to create something that represents all of us as designers and women.


It was even more empowering to be able to build upon this project for my final project of undergrad, and expand the goal of Let’s Be Clear to many different touch-points. It truly came full circle!

Real Electric Ladies

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