The Active Minds group is promoting Operation Beautiful on Main Campus.
If you’ve caught yourself staring at the reflection in the tinted windows of the Student Center or have taken every opportunity to rush to the ladies’ room to powder your nose, please stand up. You’re not alone.
Secretary of Active Minds Allyson Beaver, 20, is recognizing that by bringing Operation Beautiful, an attempt at mass yet subtle encouragement, to Temple.
It was Caitlin Boyle, a 25-year-old blogger from Orlando, Fla., who first decided to act on the popularized negative self-criticism. Boyle found the solution in Operation Beautiful, a program she envisioned would improve self-image in men and women.
According to her Web site, Operation Beautiful began with Boyle sticking a Post-It note to a public bathroom mirror that read, “you are beautiful!” She took a picture of the note, posted it on her blog and encouraged her readers to do the same. Operation Beautiful became an instant success and swept the nation and the globe, reaching bloggers as far as Sydney, Australia.
To kick off the Operation, Boyle and her followers started posting notes of encouragement, beginning during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Feb. 21 to Feb. 27.
Students have been posting notes around Tyler, Anderson Hall, the Student Center and other common meeting places. Their words of encouragement included “Smile, you’re beautiful!” and Beaver’s favorite – “There are 86,400 seconds in a day, take 10, and say ‘I’M BEAUTIFUL, I love myself and my life!”
“Every bathroom I went into I put Post-Its up,” Beaver said. Scores of other students followed suit, and the trend caught on quickly, she continued.
The junior art history major and psychology minor helped establish Active Minds last year, along with the other women on the group’s E-Board. The group’s mission is to promote on-campus awareness about mental health issues students combat and to provide encouragement. Bringing Operation Beautiful to Temple is its first major campus-wide event.
“I want to be open about it,” Beaver said, “and for people to not be embarrassed about their mental health problems … but people don’t realize how much it can affect them and others.”
Women are more concerned with outward appearances and less self-confident than ever before, according to a study conducted by Glamour, which said nearly 40 percent of women are unhappy with their size or looks. This number has remained stagnant since 1984. Evidence also suggests that eating disorders among female college students are on the rise and approximately 4 percent of college students suffer from bulimia.
The diet trends sweeping the nation gain more force and support as the years advance. It attracts progressively younger girls each year; individuals as young as 8 years old have reported following a serious dieting regimen. Eventually negative body image and eating disorders will become ingrained in the minds of America’s daughters much like the Pledge of Allegiance.
Negative body image can eventually evolve into more serious mental and physical disorders, including an eating disorder depression, isolationism or even suicide. Boyle’s and Beaver’s goal is to prevent these conditions by combating the root of the problem – Hollywood’s projection of the “perfect woman,” and the media, which only add fuel to the fire.
Beaver’s advice to men and women who struggle with negative body image is to follow her lead.
“I have my own mantra. I say it to myself in the mirror every morning: ‘Good morning, Ally! You’re beautiful. Have a good day today,’” Beaver said.
If other people took time to do little things for themselves, she said, overall self-esteem would be better and they would give themselves more credit.
The latest issue of Cosmopolitan agrees. “One way to break the cycle of negativity is to treat yourself to something you know you love,” author Bethany Heitman wrote. Killer confidence, she said, is sexy, powerful and attractive and can get you nearly everything you want.
When in doubt, recall the words of Operation Beautiful’s Post-Its: “You are beautiful. Smile!” or visit OperationBeautiful.com to see for yourself.
Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.