The retailer will launch a petition drive in the United States today to spread awareness and support for legislation that would help end the sex trafficking of children and young people worldwide. Stores will urge visitors to sign the petition, and a Web site link will allow anyone to sign electronically.
Uma Thurman, Yoko Ono, and Sienna Miller have also signed the petition and created self-drawn hand traces for colorful signage that will go up in stores.
In addition, The Body Shop will continue to donate proceeds from their popular Soft Hands, Kind Heart Hand Cream and Bag for Life products to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) and the Somaly Mam Foundation, for both of which they've already raised over $1.5 million.
Sarandon sung words of praise for her favorite beauty destination.
"It would be wonderful if more corporate entities understood how eager people are to see their money go toward a donation. The Body Shop was one of the first to get that and do that," Sarandon told a packed penthouse atop New York's Morgans Hotel.
And Sarandon thinks informing the public that trafficking is still something that happens every day -- even right here in the USA -- will open many people's eyes and instigate change.
"When people see what is going on," said Sarandon, "they will no longer allow this kind of sexual tourism to exist."
Sold into sexual slavery at the age of 12 by her grandfather, Cambodian Somaly Mam has come to be seen as emblematic of the movement to rescue and rehabilitate girls caught in the trade. Holding hands with Sarandon at the launch event, Mam talked about the most difficult part of her job: playing nurturing mother to all the girls her centers accept.
"It's easy to walk in and save a girl from a brothel in five minutes, but it takes five, ten years to recover them from the experience. They need to be given skills so they can continue on in life," said Mam, who was flanked by one of her Cambodian rescues -- a shy, quiet girl who looked no older than 15, yet had lost a right eye when her captor took a knife to it as a punishment.
"It's not just about the money with The Body Shop, it's about their love and support. They are so brave to support a cause that can make people very uncomfortable," said Mam.
Mam referred to Sarandon several times as her "mentor," though the Oscar-winning actress responded by saying their close friendship is a constant perspective-changer for her.
"I'll be freaking out over something, and then Somaly will call me to talk about problems she is going through. And I instantly forget about whatever stupid thing it was that was bothering me. Let me tell you, Somaly works with real problems," said Sarandon.
Katrina Bowden of 30 Rock fame also attended the event, as did Mam's oldest daughter, Ning. The 18 year-old's eyes lit up when we asked if she had spent time with Sarandon before.
"She came to our center last year and taught us how to play ping-pong! She is such a good person, but we didn't know she was so famous," the soft-spoken teenager told StyleList.
Ning spends most of her time at her mother's center in Cambodia, where she hopes to start business school soon so she can one day help run the center -- which she said was a serious departure from the American city she had flown into for The Body Shop event.
"I'm so surprised that New York is so big! It is the biggest city I have ever seen in my life. It's definitely not Cambodia."