Operation Beautiful: Random Acts of Inner Beauty


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  166 comments   :  31,175 Views

The dailySpark recently featured a new website called Operation Beautiful in the weekly link round up. Because dailySpark readers responded so positively to the post about Operation Beautiful, we asked its founder, Caitlin, to tell us a little more about it.

My name is Caitlin, and I'm 25 years old. I began www.OperationBeautiful.com because I believe in a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle -- it's not just about what you eat or how you work out, but the caring and thoughtful things you do for yourself and others, too.

In 2006, I got my fitness act together and transformed my life. I live in Orlando, Florida, with my college-sweetheart husband and our two dogs, James Bond and Maggie Thatcher, and we both love living a healthy, active life. I work two jobs and am also a part-time blogger (at www.HealthyTippingPoint.com, which is my personal food and fitness blog, and www.OperationBeautiful.com.

Caitlin also took some time to answer our questions about Operation Beautiful!

dailySpark: What is Operation Beautiful?

Caitlin: Operation Beautiful is simple; all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. I’ve begun leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms--at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. I scribble down whatever comes to mind--“You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” Now, the Operation has spread beyond me, and hundreds of other women are participating. The women write notes and send them in, and then I post them on the site for thousands of others to enjoy.

dailySpark: How did the website get started?

Caitlin: I really believe healthy living involves three things: food, fitness, and spirit. You can eat perfectly and work out religiously, but if you don't take the time to reach out to other people in a positive way, you'll never be satisfied. Operation Beautiful started because I was looking for a way to spread joy to other people. From writing my own blog, I know how deep our body image issues run, and by reaching out to others, you can help yourself, too.

dailySpark: Why do you think these anonymous notes are catching on?

Caitlin: I think women are surprised to find that they are making themselves happier by posting these notes. Leaving a note on a bathroom mirror or in a gym leaves you with such a positive feeling inside! Operation Beautiful gives you hope and a high-on-life feeling!

dailySpark: What message are you trying to send to women?

Caitlin: My message is two-fold: first, that random acts of kindness are so powerful, both for the receiver and the giver. Second, I just want women to realize that they are beautiful--and I don't mean physically beautiful. Every one of us has an inner light that shines through and makes us unique. We've spent so much time, energy, emotion, and money trying to fit into society's narrow definition of physical beautiful. But if we accepted and embraced the way we are instead of trying to reach an unattainable ideal, we would be so much happier!

dailySpark: Tell us about your passion for ending "fat talk."

Caitlin: I hate, hate, hate fat talk. I used to do it--I would pull on a pair of pants and say "UGH, I am so fat!" or push my stomach out and say, "I shouldn't have eaten all that ice cream, I'm a fat pig!" But then one day I realized that all this negativity was actually making my eating and exercise problems worse. When I yelled at myself for eating dessert, I would just "give up" and eat more junk. When I told myself I was a lazy pig, I would just sit on the couch and mope. When you lift yourself up instead of breaking yourself down, life is so much easier! If you wouldn't say it to a friend, why say it to yourself? Also, I think women mistakenly use fat talk to cover up their real emotions. When you say "I am fat," you're really trying to say "I am full with an emotion," like shame or guilt. It's so much better to just acknowledge how we really feel and move onwards instead of berating our precious bodies.

dailySpark: Share a little about your own journey to healthy living.

Caitlin: I began running three years ago, after one of my best friends had an intervention with me about my unhealthy lifestyle. I had always wanted to be healthy, but I could just never embrace the lifestyle when I was younger. Plus, the real issue was that I was massively out of shape! I was also very unhappy with the relationship I had with food and exercise, and I knew I was the only person who could change it.

So at 21, I stopped beer-and-pizza dinners, started to lift weights, learned about nutrition and began to eat well, and took my first steps as a runner.... Running was HARD at first. I could barely go a quarter mile without dying. I kept up at it and one month after starting to exercise, I signed up for a 10K.

Eight weeks later, I completed my 10K in 61 minutes--and it was 30 degrees and snowing! Within a year of running, I had lost about 10 pounds and gained so much endurance and fitness. Now, I workout about four days a week, love to participate in races, and enjoy making new recipes to serve as healthy fuel.

dailySpark: What are some of the strangest/least likely/most surprising places that people have left notes?

Caitlin: My favorite place that people have left notes is on scales at the gym. As women, we focus too much on numbers. It is natural for your weight to fluctuate, and there is no "healthy weight" that fits all women. If you treat yourself well, eat good food, and try to get in some movement, you're doing a great job with your fitness journey. A scale can tell you how much you weight, but it cannot say how beautiful you are! I also like it when people go to grocery stores and stick notes on the diet bars and books.

dailySpark: Have you heard from anyone who has found the notes? What has been their reaction?

Caitlin: Yes! I got an e-mail from someone who found a note in the bathroom. She said she loved finding the message and it made her so happy. I've also heard feedback from women who posted the notes at work and overheard their coworkers discussing the notes. The coworkers say things like, "That note is so sweet! I wonder who did that?" and the poster just smiles and agrees that it was nice.

Have you participated in Operation Beautiful? Will you? Are you guilty of "fat talk"?

Photos courtesy of Operation Beautiful! (My submission is the main image! I left it in my teenage sister's bedroom when I went home for a visit.)

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    What an amazing woman who an awesome idea into practice! Thank you for the motivation and inspiration. I am going to try it today and for ever. - 11/2/2009   11:01:25 AM
    I just love this. I have thought of places all week that I can stick a note. For starters my own mirror. Downing myself has become a favorite past time. My ex husband can't do it so I took over for him...Not anymore....Where is the pen and paper. - 11/1/2009   6:30:19 PM
  • 114
    What an amazing concept!

    I joined the facebook group and sent invites to all of my friends.

    Such a simple concept - I'm packing post-it's and a pen in my bag and will be armed and ready! - 10/20/2009   2:47:21 PM
    What a great way to brighten someones day. I like this idea and I will begin to leave notes to :) - 10/20/2009   10:12:59 AM
  • 112
    I love it! YOU are beautiful! - 10/20/2009   12:40:48 AM
  • 111
    I am so deeply moved and inspired by your idea! THANK YOU for what you've done for others. I'm going to join your followers and start leaving notes too!!! - 10/19/2009   9:07:15 PM
  • 110
    This just makes me happy! I'll pay it forward. - 10/5/2009   9:25:14 PM
    What a great idea! I truly believe our self-talk has the power to affect us. We have to start loving ourselves all of the time - inside and out!!! - 10/5/2009   4:20:58 PM
  • 108
    I love this! This is brilliant. I will definitely do this. I love random acts of kindness, as long as no one knows it's me. ;) - 10/5/2009   3:24:46 PM
  • 107
    I'm gonna leave a note somewhere today and I'm gonna make it a habit to carry a sticky pad in my purse so I can leave more notes around whereever I go. =) - 9/25/2009   2:53:14 PM
  • 106
    I'm going to post one in the ladies room today. :) - 9/25/2009   1:50:37 PM
  • 105
    This is a great idea. I'm starting right now! Thanks - - great blog, great idea! You are beautiful!!!! - 9/3/2009   10:37:31 AM
    woow. will definitely do this. - 9/3/2009   9:55:25 AM
  • 103
    This is such a wonderful idea!! I am very guilty of the "fat talk". I have not been happy with my body for years! I am using the tools I am finding here to help me stop! I can't wait to try this out at work! It is such an inspiring move! - 8/28/2009   2:00:07 PM
  • 102
    There was a message on the side walk on my running route a few weeks ago. "You are beautiful! ... Yes, You!" I'd not heard of the project before this article though. - 8/26/2009   12:19:59 PM
    Thank you!!! It is so easy to do and what blessing to give or read a positive note. I will be doing this. - 8/24/2009   2:35:59 PM
  • 100
    What a great idea!! - 7/21/2009   12:39:44 PM
  • 99
    I love this idea... we all should spread kindness and love to everyone!

    Here is one of my favorite scriptures in the bible.

    Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful
    “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

    - 7/17/2009   6:19:31 AM
  • 98
    Very sweet. I think it's a great idea! I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters and I'm going to encourage our Bigs & Littles to do it! - 7/16/2009   1:54:39 PM
  • 97
    This is a great idea. I will usually compliment a stranger if I find they are pretty or have gorgeous hair or skin...etc. Their reaction is one of pure joy and surprise. I KNOW, my compliment has made their day. :-) - 7/16/2009   12:53:47 PM
  • 96
    i agree, awesome idea!!! - 7/16/2009   11:44:13 AM
    This is such an AWSOME idea. I think everyone should do it. - 7/15/2009   1:49:52 PM
  • 94
    What a great idea! I love it! This story is really inspiring!

    - 7/12/2009   6:37:12 PM
  • TITANIA111
    Awesome article! Too many focus on the fake beauty that assaults us. This is a great movement to awaken us all to the beauty that surrounds us each and every day.! Yes! We are all beautiful! - 7/12/2009   3:06:12 PM
    Love this article, and actually before I read this article, I had seen on my sidewalk a "U R Beautiful" chalk message, and that it was so wonderful! - 7/12/2009   2:55:13 PM
  • 91
    Love it! Thanks for the info.! - 7/12/2009   9:24:49 AM
  • 90

    The more we can spread 'positive' ideas the better.
    I copied the poem in this article....I plan to post it, along with the website address, in many bathrooms at work.

    Great idea...Thank you for sharing this.

    :o) - 7/12/2009   8:47:46 AM
  • 89
    This is the first time I have ever heard of it, but I definitely want to participate. Yes, I am very guilty of the "fat" talk, and since joining sparkpeople I have learned how detrimental it is. - 7/12/2009   1:38:52 AM
  • 88
    that is awesome! what an amazing and sweet idea! - 7/11/2009   11:15:52 PM
  • 87
    What a beautiful idea! I am definitely going to have to try that! I work at a JR high and think it would be great to post them in the girls bathroom! I am mostly guilty of "fat talk" with my hubby. I think I do it because I want him to disagree with me and tell me he thinks I am beautiful! No more, I am going to make a real effort to only say positive things about my body! - 7/11/2009   10:22:08 AM
  • 86
    This is beyond amazing! I love it!! Im going to absolutly join in on Operation Beautiful! I believe that every single person have the right to smile every single day, just from knowing how truly amazing they are, inside and out!

    Great idea, and keep it up!! =] - 7/10/2009   7:03:08 PM
  • 85
    I love this! I will put a note on the ladies' room mirror today. :) - 7/10/2009   8:49:20 AM
  • 84
    I've done this occasionally...and try to do it everytime I encounter a service person! I'm thinking let me expand it to a postiive email to all those people I love...and even to people with whom I have business dealings! Woohoo! Thanks for expanding my thinking on this! - 7/9/2009   3:30:48 PM
  • 83
    I LOVE this idea. I think I'm going to give it a try. I am getting out my sticky note pad right now and writing some notes! Awesome way to spread some positive energy!!

    Hey...YOU are beautiful! - 7/9/2009   2:36:13 PM
    This is the same idea I want to focus on at my school this next year. Our theme will be having a positive attitude every day. - 7/9/2009   1:52:35 AM
    I tried this with a friend who needed some encouragement. I would leave post its for her telling her how nice she is, that she is appriciated, etc. Well, when you're the office jokester sometimes people dont take you seriously. I had to tell her it was no joke, she's just great. Everyone needs to feel special and appriciated. She looks forward to the kind words and funny pictures now. - 7/8/2009   11:08:17 PM
  • 80
    When I first read about Operation Beautiful, I e-mailed my mom and some friends with the subject, "Hey, Beautiful!" In the body was "Psst! Pass it on!" and the link to the website. - 7/8/2009   11:01:30 PM
  • 79
    Hey Everyone...You Are All Beautiful!!! - 7/8/2009   9:33:40 PM
    I think the positive way of thinking is a great way to leave a message because everyone needs them. - 7/8/2009   9:23:16 PM
  • 77
    This is a great idea! I think I may leave a note on the mirror in the bathroom on my floor of the office building I work in tomorrow... - 7/8/2009   8:48:33 PM
  • 76
    This is a wonderful idea! I hope that it continues. I agree with Caitlin about the abusive "fat talk" I think it is detrimental and harmful. Love yourself however you are! - 7/8/2009   6:31:33 PM
  • 75
    You are BE.A. U.tiful :) - 7/8/2009   6:24:02 PM
  • 74
    I love this!!! I'm definitely going to start leaving notes everywhere! - 7/8/2009   5:33:41 PM
    I went to your website maybe a month ago and I just thought it was such a wonderful thing. I also hate "FAT TALK"!!!! Let's be proud of who we are! - 7/8/2009   4:35:07 PM
  • 72
    This is such a beautiful, beautiful idea! I just love these ideas! It made me feel beautiful just reading it! - 7/8/2009   2:42:36 PM
  • 71
    Oh, this is a great idea! Thank you very much! - 7/8/2009   2:36:10 PM
  • 70
    This must be catching on. We saw a "You Are Beautiful!" Post-It in the ladies restroom in a rest-stop in the Niagara Region of New York while we were traveling. I said "Hey! I was just reading about this!"

    Suellen - 7/8/2009   2:16:18 PM
    This works from both giving and receiving ends, even with people we don't know! - 7/8/2009   1:44:48 PM
  • 68
    Talk about spreading the Spark! I love these motivating tools that are not only good for me but for others. - 7/8/2009   1:42:28 PM
  • 67
    I left a post it on our ladies bathroom mirror here at work this morning. We just got out of a meeting and the ladies were bubbling over with smiles and giggles. Also, trying to figure out who wrote the message. I disguised my handwriting and was quite proud that no one guessed me. I plan to use this on my daughter tonight. I can't wait to spread the beauty! - 7/8/2009   11:45:47 AM

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