Transforming the way you see yourself one post-it note at a time.
Caitlin Boyle is the brains behind the Operation Beautiful website, which continues, slowly but surely to "transform the way you see yourself one post-it note at a time". The website invites followers to create their own motivational notes to paste in public places and send into the website. A much needed antidote to the impossible ideals of fashion magazines and the media, it offers advice and tips to overcome eating disorders and love your body. We talk to Caitlin about finding your own happiness, curbing "fat talk" and changing the way you see not the way you look.
Hey Caitlin, can you tell me a bit about the Operation Beautiful campaign?
The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post notes in random places for other women (and men) to find. These notes generally encourage a positive body outlook and encourage self-esteem building. Each note that gets photographed and emailed to me also goes in the site.
What lead you to initiate this project?
I was having a really stressful day and wanted to do something nice for someone else. I posted a note in a public bathroom that said "You are beautiful" and it made me feel so much better.
Was the project influenced by your own body image or self esteem?
I used to struggle with negative self image and Fat Talk behaviour, and I know how damaging it can be. Being proactive about your own happiness by posting Operation Beautiful notes can have a huge impact on how you see yourself.
Do you feel that women's body image is an increasing issue in today's society?
I do, I am especially concerned by the rampant photoshopping in magazines. Even fitness magazines like Runner's World photoshops their models! It creates a false ideal and puts too much pressure on women and men to look a certain way.
Do you feel your website acts as a combat to the increasing rise of "thinspiration" websites?
I hope people are drawn to something positive and uplifting, not something negative and hurtful.
What advice would you give to readers to curb self criticism and improve their self esteem?
The key is truly to change the way you see, not the way you look. There are tons of tips on this page.
Your campaign reminds me of the community arts project Postsecret, has it been an influence in you?
I love Postsecret but it wasn't really an inspiration for Operation Beautiful.
You are releasing a book on Operation Beautiful in August, can you tell me about this and what was your inspiration for doing so?
Operation Beautiful includes about 125 notes from women and girls all over the world, as well as tips on how to lead a more positive, healthy life. I feel like the book gives you the tools to make Operation Beautiful work for you in your everyday life. The book addresses topics such as food, fitness, family, friends, and faith.
You invite women to post their own messages to send into the site, how has the response been for this?
I've received thousands of notes from dozens of countries, including one from every populated continent!
What is the most original post-it note that has been sent in?
I really love the notes written on sidewalks or driveways with chalk. A few women have also staged Operation Beautiful protests where they hold up large posterboards with Operation Beautiful notes for people in traffic to see.
What do you feel you've learnt from Operation Beautiful?
People have such a strong desire and capacity to do good and make other people happy. Sometimes I think we decide the world is a mean place, but there are so many good people out there.
Finally, what's next for Operation Beautiful?
The Operation Beautiful book comes out on August 3 and is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Indie Bound.