Mission Impossible? Operation Beautiful Sets Out to Undo Low Self-Esteem in College Women

As the excitement of the holidays is replaced with the reality of another semester, you may be regretting those extra couple of Christmas cookies as you mount the treadmill or squeeze into your now-snug (and maybe too) skinny jeans. But instead of engaging in what Operation Beautiful editor and author Caitlin Boyle refers to as “fat talk,” make your new years resolution to be happy with your body.

Boyle’s mission is to increase positive thinking with anonymous acts of kindness in the form of post-it notes, signs, or index cards with empowering messages. “You are beautiful,” and other like messages are posted on bathroom mirrors to remind women to choose a positive way of thinking.

“The biggest mistake we make is beating ourselves up for not looking like models or celebrities,” said Boyle. “It's time we stop emulating or striving for a type of perfection that doesn't even exist in the real world.”

The mission has grown, and the Web site is now a collection of positive phrases and photos from readers. Boyle also published an Operation Beautiful book with tips on living a healthier life as well as examples of creative notes.

“I think focusing on making healthy choices for the sake of yourself instead of striving to fit into the Thin Ideal is a great motivator,” said Boyle. “It makes your focus and goals long-term.”

Operation Beautiful was introduced to me at a presentation on happiness by my sorority’s Risk Management Chair, Danielle Oliveri. Oliveri took a positive psychology course and after doing her research she came back to us with one simple message: Happiness is a choice.

Going along with Boyle’s message, Oliveri recommended that we practiced finding the positive in disappointing situations. “The more you practice, the more likely a positive perspective will naturally become part of your life,” she explained.

“[Operation Beautiful] has reminded me that we are all beautiful and strong and there is much more to life than obsessing over how we look. It’s all about accepting yourself wholeheartedly,” Oliveri said.

Let 2011 be the year you strive for a happier and healthier ‘you’ for yourself, and leave the negative energy in 2010. “Above all else, remember that the goal is HEALTH, not size or weight,” said Boyle. “Healthy looks different for different people.”


By Marissa Kameno, Quinnipiac University

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