For all of the hype about women and their low self esteem, it didn’t really hit home until the other night when I was out with a few of my beautiful and brilliant girlfriends laughing and chatting and having a great time until-dare I say it-one of them challenged the rest of us to say two things that we were good at.
You’d think she had ordered us to rob a bank or step on a crack and break our mother’s back for all of the nervous shudders that greeted the prospect of simply giving ourselves a compliment.
“I think I’m a pretty good cook,” said T, who could easily rival Rachael Ray in the kitchen. “I guess I’m sort of creative,” said M, who has such a beautifully decorated house that it could put Martha Stewart to shame.
You’ve got to be kidding me!
I couldn’t help but contrast these women’s struggles to say something nice about themselves with the way my 11-year-old son’s top three adjectives to describe himself rolled off his tongue: “awesome, awesomer and awesomest.”
Awesome indeed. How can an untested 11-year-old kid have so much more confidence in himself than a group of fully-grown women who have proven their awesomeness time and time again? The answer is complicated, but one antidote is amazingly simple-in fact, it’s as simple as a Post-It note. Just ask Caitlin Boyle, founder of Operation Beautiful, a positive thinking movement so simple that all you need is a pen and some paper to participate.
It all began when Caitlin was having a really bad day and wanted to do something small and simple for someone else to make herself feel better. Tired of watching women criticize themselves while staring into bathroom mirrors, she scribbled, “You are beautiful” on a Post-it and slapped it on one of the mirrors in her Florida office building. Then she posted a picture of the note on her blog, www.HealthyTippingPoint.com. Soon women around the globe began mimicking her random act of kindness.
Notes started showing up on diet books, scales at gyms and on Slim-Fast boxes. Then Caitlin started the operationbeautiful.com blog, with a simple mission to leave positive, body-affirming notes in public spaces and invite others to do the same. The response was so overwhelming that she’s chronicled some of her favorite messages in a new book, Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time.
Since starting the project about a year and a half ago, Caitlin’s left hundreds of Operation Beautiful notes of her own, including her favorite saying of the moment, “Scales Measure Weight, Not Worth.” She also leaves notes around the house to inspire and motivate her, like the recent “You are the creator of your own destiny.”
Talk about a girl after my own heart.
One of my favorite things to do is write myself a message when I order things online, like a recent prescription order that came with a gift card saying, “Leslie, you rock!” And a book I got for my son arrived with the message, “Your mom must be awesome to have such an awesome kid.”
Not surprisingly, when it was my turn to say what I was good at, “amusing myself” was at the top of my list. As for Caitlin, she said, “I can seriously do anything I put my mind to- launch a small business, move across the country, practice yoga, run a marathon. And I have epic calf muscles.”
She’s got some pretty epic ideas too.
Keep an eye out ladies: you might just see a message on a mirror near you.