Operation Beautiful: Spreading the Love, One Note at a Time
“I began my first diet when I was eight. I was diagnosed with bulimia when I was fourteen. I have spent my entire life working to be perfect and thin,” Vic says. “It’s ruined my life.” Now enrolled in an out-patient treatment facility for anorexia, her body is as frail as a woman four times her age. “My teeth have almost no enamel on them. My heart rate and blood pressure range from too high to too low weekly. I get ECGs and blood tests at least once a month. Yet, I still can’t stop,” Vic admits.
When her therapist had her to eat a 500-calorie meal, Vic panicked. Vic hadn’t eaten that many calories in one sitting in several years. She left the appointment in tears and immediately headed towards the nearest public restroom to purge. Vic had just locked the stall door when a small Post-It caught her eye. “It said, ‘You’re beautiful. You’re good enough. www.OperationBeautiful.com. No one had ever said that to me,” she says. “I didn’t throw up that day. It was the first time I ate something solid and did not throw it up in years.”
Can one little note change the way women view themselves? The women of Operation Beautiful think so. The site’s mission is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The messages range ‘You are beautiful!’ or ‘Smile! Have a wonderful day!’ to ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; be the beholder!’
“The goal of Operation Beautiful is to convey one simple truth: the true beauty is something that comes from the inside,” says Caitlin Boyle, the site’s creator. “In a world where girls and women are always told they aren’t good enough – that they need to be thinner, firmer, or younger—a random note can go a long way in improving someone’s attitude.”
Dr. Margo Maine, cofounder of Maine & Weinstein Specialty Group in West Hartford, CT, an outpatient practice that treats eating disorders, told iVillage.com that she agrees with Caitlin. “When it comes to body image and appearance, we’re told we need to change ourselves, that we’re not okay as is,” she says. “The notion that you may walk into a gym or dressing room and see a note that says you are okay as is would be an incredible antidote to what women experience constantly.”
Since the site launched in June 2009, over 1,000 notes have been featured on the site. “We’ve received notes from every state, Canada, Japan, Iraq, England, Germany, Spain, Australia, and Bermuda,” says Caitlin. “Women all over the world can relate to the message and enjoy doing a random act of kindness for others.”
Operation Beautiful is now accepting submissions for the website and the upcoming Operation Beautiful book, which will be published in fall 2010 by Gotham Books.
If you want to participate, all you need is a pen, a Post-It, and a positive message! Head over to Operation Beautiful to learn how you can participate.