Have you ever heard of the Operation Beautiful movement? I just did and I simply have to share as the campaign struck me as quite beautiful in and of itself.
The mission is to assist girls to grow up to be “healthy, strong, and happy”. Who doesn’t want that for the girls in their life? Who doesn’t want that for all girls? I know I do.
The concept it to leave random, positive post-it notes around town, in places which would typically be used by young girls in the hopes of instilling a nugget of encouragement and kindness, a little of which could make a huge impact. Things like:
The founder of Operation Beautiful, Caitlin Boyle, was inspired to create this organization after suffering debilitating self-doubt as a preteen and teen. With the love and support of a good friend she managed to change her negative outlook into a positive one and realized what an important crossroads she had navigated successfully. This brought her to the realization that she wanted to help other girls like her friend had helped her and give positive feedback to counterbalance the comparisons to airbrushed models in magazines and online, and the bombardment of unattainable standards by advertisers whose use scare tactics as a marketing method, making us feel like we are not good enough.
Puberty is a delicate time in our development on all levels: physically, emotionally and even intellectually. It seems to be the stage of life where we go from being happy-go-lucky children with nary a care in the world to suddenly find ourselves self-aware and self-conscious and acutely aware of our changing bodies. In many cases, we feel like we have lost control of who we thought we were and feel like our bodies and hormones are betraying us. Adolescence is a time of transition and like most transitions it is rife with pain and problems.
I like the concept of Operation Beautiful on many levels. I like that it’s random and anonymous. I like that it’s basically doing a random act of kindness but it takes it almost a step farther because you leave a note somewhere and undoubtedly will never know or see the reaction it caused. I like that it takes the adage “it takes a village” to raise children and those brave and kind souls who leave notes are doing their bit to help raise young women with confidence and hopefully banish self-loathing. This is crucial in order to grow up with grace and dignity and self-respect. I grew up with British parents and it just wasn’t in their nature to praise me. I distinctly remember getting ready to leave my house to go out with friends and invariably my mother would say something like “You’re not going out like that are you?”, basically undermining any confidence I had previously felt about my attire (which was generally tame and nondescript) and I would leave feeling bad about myself. Isn’t a mother’s job to say something more along the lines of “You look lovely dear.”?
Operation Beautiful serves as a counterbalance to the mainstream media that is constantly undermining young women and it serves them a small dose of praise and inspiration. I encourage more people to be conscious of their words and actions, especially concerning teens, and to try to model affirmative communication. If the chance to say something kind in a note you leave stuck to some random bathroom or change room mirror reveals itself to you, please take out that marker and leave a message. It can’t possibly hurt and just might help a young woman feel better about themselves.