"Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time."
Like most women Caitlin Boyle, a writer and blogger from Orlando Florida, beat herself up emotionally about her physical attributes. But she did something the average woman does not do -- create a "campaign to recognize the true beauty within every woman.". When she initially started Operation Beautiful she had no way of knowing it would grow as it did from one post-it note, to a blog, and eventually to this book. Through her journey she almost immediately learned what we all need most is "love, kindness, and patience" but we seem to withhold it from ourselves.
Operation Beautiful shares Caitlin's journey from her first post-it note ("You are Beautiful" left on a public bathroom mirror) along with an additional 125 notes from real women (women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and ethnicity) and the stories behind them. Along her journey she received emails from "women going through terrible divorces, teenagers feeling lost in high school, mothers coming to grips with their post-baby bodies, and girls in treatment clinics for eating disorders." Operation Beautiful is really for women and young girls of all ages and stations in their lives; as well as the men who love them and are trying to understand.
Operation Beautiful celebrates both those who write post it notes of inspiration and those who ultimately receive them. By page 23 I had come close to tears (heartache for what some women feel about themselves and how a little note of kindness changed their lives) at least three times but I also found myself smiling a lot too.
Images of notes appear throughout the book from people who have taken pictures of their post-it notes on display and this aids in the enjoyment of the note's message. Anything from a simple "You are beautiful." To a bathroom covered completely with post it messages.
Operation Beautiful's 254 pages are divided into seven chapters:
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Fat Talk
Chapter 3 - Family & Friends
Chapter 4 - Fitness
Chapter 5 - Food
Chapter 6 - Faith
Chapter 7 - Going Forward
Even though the word "beautiful" is in the title, this book encourages readers to go beyond physical beauty to the core of negative self talk with the ultimate goal of teaching us to be nicer to ourselves (and other women). There are excerpts from letters from women who struggle with their body image and how Operation Beautiful got them to cut down on their negative self talk or stop it all together.
Even if you do not think you have body image issues this book is worth your time to read how other women are struggling and how you can help with a few simple words.
There are a few essays throughout the book to off set the notes; most of them are inspiring or informative: The Positive People, Energy Vampires, and Starting a Conversation (talking to children about self love is one of my favorites) to name a few.
But some gave me pause; like "Fighting Fat Talk" -- I take issue with snapping a rubber band on the wrist as punishment for self talk -- we have suffered enough already and this was a technique used decades ago for people with food cravings. I found the best advice offered was to practice refraining from making judgements about yourself and other people based on appearance.
There is much about "defining your own version of beautiful and celebrating your body" but it feels a bit preachy at times with the eat your veggies and exercise messages penned throughout. In "Raising Confident Children" -- the meal advice takes away from the positive message and adds restrictions -- you are only beautiful if you eat healthy and exercise.
While talking about the "weightloss war" it is again implied that women have to lose weight to be beautiful, turning it from body acceptance to encouraging body hate. But it comes around again when it shifts to enjoying activity because you can and not to lose weight to look better. Weight loss definitely weighs heavy on many women's minds as many of the notes to Caitlin were from women who were overweight and saw the light and began exercising to lose weight -- suggesting a renewed positive body image will lead to one's ultimate weight loss. When in reality not all women will lose weight when their body image improves; the message that this is OK and everyone is beautiful does get a bit lost at times.
While I consider the overall theme of the book to be positive, some of the essays and comments leave me with the impression that the best version of your self is not a fat version which in the end fuels the flames if inadequacy. If anything it is a wonderful resource for getting you to write your own positive notes to yourself and to others.
I will end with one of my favorites notes from Operation Beautiful, "We are all shapes and sizes. We are strong, and we are athletes. We are beautiful."
Operation Beautiful is available from Amazon.com.
Operation Beautiful is available from Amazon.ca.
Disclosure: One book was provided to me free of charge to review.