Operation Beautiful raises self-esteem

Have you ever stumbled across a post-it note with encouraging words written on it? It could be a random act of kindness, but likely it is part of an organization called Operation Beautiful. Their mission objective is to eliminate self-negative thoughts and convey a positive outlook, often about body image. Operation Beautiful has been featured on shows such as the Oprah Winfrey Network and the Today Show. St. Cloud State students had the opportunity to hear from founder and speaker Caitlin Boyle on Sept. 25 in the Atwood Ballroom.

Boyle is a blogger, author, and motivational speaker. She described how Operation Beautiful developed when she was at a rough point in her life. She disliked her job, was attending full time night classes, and was unsure of what she wanted to do in life. She said she felt overloaded and unhappy. After a particularly discouraging night, she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror with negative thoughts in her head. It was that moment that she took out a post-it note and simply wrote, “You are beautiful,” and left it on the mirror.

It was after that night that Boyle decided to blog about the experience. Not long after, she asked other’s to participate in this Operation Beautiful. The idea went viral, and only a month after the first incident there was an article in the New York Daily, and it continued to gain awareness. Boyle told SCSU students that she has received pictures of notes from every continent of the world, and that there was even a note on the South Pole (yes, there is an actual pole with the note attached).

Boyle spoke on different aspects of Operation Beautiful; how it all began, statistics that reflect negativity in people, and Photoshop today with how it is used with celebrities. Shedescribed stories in which people have discovered notes in the most needed times. An example of that was one man who got on an elevator, intending to go to the top in order to commit suicide. On the way up, he found a post- it note from Operation Beautiful. That individual received a positive message when he needed it most, which prompted him to change his mind and seek therapy after.

Not all cases have such a huge impact on people, but these messages of positivity help to brighten people’s days, no matter what their situation is. Notes can be found anywhere but are commonly in textbooks, bathroom stalls, mirrors, and more.

Boyle explained that a major factor causing negative thoughts in people include media today and how people are made to look perfect on magazine covers and music videos. People generally realize that these images have been edited to look perfect, but despite that knowledge, people still feel pressure to look that way.

She provided statistics such as, 70 percent of teenage girls today think they are not good enough; that 10 to 20 percent of college women and 4 to 10 percent of college men have eating disorders; and that women have on average, thirteen negative thoughts per day.

Zia Matt, a freshman from North Carolina said, “I didn’t have terrible thoughts on body image going into it, but it was nice to hear her speak. I do think my thoughts on body image have become better! I thought she was fantastic; her speaking was so powerful. I was most surprised with the part about Beyoncé editing her pictures on Instagram!”

Want to partake in Operation Beautiful? Simply write an encouraging note and leave it for someone else to find with OperationBeautiful.com written at the bottom. That way, if people are curious and want to learn more or seek help, they have a resource to into. Together, we can change society’s views on what is beautiful.

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