April 20th, 2012
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that have the most profound impact. Who would have thought a post-it note with a short and sweet message such as “You are Beautiful!” would lead to a national trend? Caitlin Boyle certainly did not, but that did not stop her from sewing the seed that has now become the masterpiece known as, Operation Beautiful™.
Her goal was to combat the societal epidemic of negative self-talk by countering it with a positive message. She first left the messages on mirrors in public restrooms at her work, gym, and local grocery store. She explains, “Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger.”
She eventually created a website and began putting the web address on the notes so people could join the mission as a community. In the battle against toxic self-talk, the Operation Beautiful™ website is a sort of headquarters always recruiting more soldiers to walk the talk!
Glamour Magazine, Women’s Day, Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Today Show have all taken notice. Today, Caitlin’s website receives thousands of hits from across the Globe from others who contribute to the cause. She just published her second book, which feature collections of others! (Remember, this all started with a simple post-it note and a positive mind.)
I found an Operation Beautiful™ note and joined the cause two years ago. Since, I have organized three “Operation Beautiful™” benefits, reaching hundreds of attendees. Hopefully, some of these folks have gone on to spread the positivity. Regardless, the funds raised have been passed onto Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept, & Live, a nonprofit organization started by three brilliant teenagers that helps individuals battling eating disorders access the treatment they need.
Prevention + Intervention = REAL HOPE!
YOU can become part of the equation, part of the solution! Here is how:
What supplies do I need? This is the best part! This activity is incredibly accessible because it requires inexpensive items common to most households. Traditional supplies include: post-it notes as well as pens, pencils, gel pens, and/or markers. There are all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors of post-it notes you can look for if you want to invest a few dollars into the project. You can always incorporate stickers too.
What do I write and where do I post the notes? Get creative and even animated. You can spread around your favorite quotes or make up your own inspirational messages. If you struggle with self-image yourself, just imagine what it is you might really need to hear today and then spread the love! You can embellish your messages by adding doodles, using different color combinations, and even drawing quick sketches to help your message capture one’s attention. It really comes down to how many notes you want to make and how much time you have to devote to the project.
People are now expanding the mission by using chalk on sidewalks and using non-permanent markets to draw directly on mirrors. Just be careful to respect public and private property by using methods that can easily be removed. By the way, if you walk by later and find your message is missing, it may have been picked up and taken home by someone who really needed it!
If you leave the www.operationbeautiful.com website on the post-it, people can learn more about the mission. You can also leave the address of an eating disorder non-profit organization. Regardless of your choice, just keep this to positive propaganda please!
Below is a list of 15 possible locations, as well as examples of what you might write.
1. Bathroom mirrors (Look in the mirror and repeat after me, “You are beautiful!”)
2. Dressing room mirrors (Objects in the mirror are more beautiful than they appear!)
3. Bathroom stalls (Size does not matter. Love yourself always and forever!)
4. Lockers in the gym or at school (Go out into the world knowing you are loved)
5. Scales at the gym (A mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind.)
6. Diet and beauty product aisles at the store (You are magnificent just the way you are.)
7. Diet ads or Photoshop images on magazine covers (REAL beauty is who you are!)
8. Self-help books at the library or bookstore (Rock Steady!)
9. Ice-cream shops (Life is short; eat dessert first!)
10. Children’s toy packages that encourage unrealistic body image (You are the twinkle in the stars.)
11. Public bulletin boards (You can do anything you set your mind too!)
12. Gas pumps (“Don’t worry about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright” –Bob Marley)
13. Random car windows in the parking lot (Smile! It’s beautiful and contagious.)
14. Inside your cabinet doors (You deserve to enjoy your life.)
15. On your refrigerator (Nourish your mind, body, and soul. Breathe deeply & repeat!)
Whether you run a treatment program, suffer from an eating disorder, have a loved one battling an eating disorder, or have recovered from one, you have wisdom to share, so go out and share it! My partner surprised me with a note a few days before we held our first Operation Beautiful™ benefit and I still cherish it!
One you get started, the ideas will start running and you might even have a difficult time keeping up with yourself. Remember, this will benefit you and someone else! It’s like feeding two birds with one seed. Beautiful indeed!