Today: Jul 17, 2024

Operation Beautiful promotes positive body image


Ryan Morgan, News Editor-

Operation Beautiful, launched by Caitlin Boyle in June 2009, is dedicated to encouraging positive body image by ending negative self-talk in girls, woman and men. Boyle is attempting to transform the way people see themselves, one Post-It note at a time.

According to its website,, the goal is to end “Fat Talk,” words that hurt emotionally, spiritually and physically, by helping readers realize how toxic this speech is. Boyle leaves positive messages on Post-It notes on public mirrors, work, the gym and even the grocery store to inspire others to feel beautiful.

“It was a happy accident. I was having a bad day and didn’t know what to do about the negative voices around me. I hated my job and was a 25-year-old student at community college bombing chemistry,” said Boyle. “I just felt so stupid all the time. One day I went to the bathroom and took out a scrap piece of paper, wrote ‘you are beautiful’ and jimmied it into the mirror. It made me feel better.”

Today, Boyle’s website functions as a blog people around the world can contribute to by sending in their stories and Post-It photos.

Nikki Hutchinson, a senior programmer for Programs Council, came across Boyle’s blog and was immediately inspired to join the sensation. Hutchinson posted a “you are beautiful” quote in the window of the ProCon office and quickly found out the note was spreading happiness as she was contacted by supporters. 

“Operation Beautiful is important to me for a lot of reasons. The biggest being the lack of confidence I have in myself and my beauty. Seeing her website made me think how much I wasn’t alone in all of this,” said Hutchinson. “[The note in ProCon’s window] was the start. Then I did as the website said and wrote quotes in random places.”

After hearing about an initiative being taken on by Greek Life Council President Susan Zarnowski, Random Acts of Kindness to save lives on campus by performing acts of kindness or even lending a smile, Hutchinson decided bringing Boyle to Southern would be beneficial to campus. To promote the event, Hutchinson ordered 30 of Boyle’s books, “Operation Beautiful,” to raffle off at events leading up to the event and at the presentation.

Hutchinson printed out large Post-Its and invited people to donate their favorite self-loving quote for a display at the event. When the day of the presentation arrived last Wednesday, Hutchinson said she had received many quotes and over 100 Post-It packs for free after Boyle made some extra calls. 

“When people find the notes, they e-mail me their stories. A Canadian teen with anorexia was in a really bad state and was force fed at therapy. Afterwards, she walked into the bathroom and found a note on a stall door saying ‘you’re beautiful the way you are, you don’t have to change.’ She gained weight and went back to school. Stories like hers show me how much of an impact a note can make.”

Because February is Eating Disorders Awareness Month, the Fitness Center, Counseling Services, Health Services, the Wellness Center, Men’s Initiative, Multicultural Center, and the Women’s Center are all sponsoring a “Stop Fat Talk” week. The offices invite members of the Southern community to print their “Stop Fat Talk” flyer and post it around campus.

“We need to replace the negative thoughts with something positive yet realistic,” said Boyle. “When we fat talk in front of kids they really soak up the message and get the wrong idea.”

Rizk said he believes fat talk has a real effect on young girls, especially when it starts in the home. Rizk expressed the importance of speaking positively in front of children and not comparing oneself to a model on television as it sets a negative example and may mislead the child to strive for something not attainable. 

Hutchinson said she plans to continue what she has started and is happy to see others posting notes around campus, and even brought a package with her to last weekend’s Washington, D.C. school trip.

“She [Boyle] really made an impact on how I view myself and I want to continue doing what she started,” said Hutchinson. “I can’t wait to spread the love all over the world. Everywhere I go I see Post-Its with some quote on it. That right there makes all the planning, poster designing, printing, publicizing, ordering, preparing and time spent worth it.”

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