The Collegian
Friday, April 19, 2024

Operation Beautiful founder speaks on campus

Founder of Operation Beautiful, Caitlin Boyle, spoke about ending negative self-talk to Westhampton College students Thursday night as a part of Tri Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week.

Boyle created Operation Beautiful in 2009 as a way to fight the negative “fat talk” in which many women engage. Part of what she does is to post anonymous, positive notes in public places for other people to find, and encourage others to do the same.

“The overall goal of Operation Beautiful is to change conversation among women while promoting a healthier body image,” said Kate Pawlukiewicz, Tri Delta’s member development chair. “I've found that positive body image is contagious and I think her talk will really inspire people to start to change how they think and speak about their bodies,” she said.

Boyle emphasized positive body image in a world that pushes a thin ideal to a crowd of around 300 Westhampton women. “I challenge you to think about who is deciding the barometer for what ‘good enough’ is,” she said.

In her talk she showed magazine photos of celebrities and emphasized the manipulation done to each body through Photoshop. The celebrities ranged from Kate Winslet to Beyoncé, and each photograph showed the immense change the celebrities' bodies receive in magazines, videos and Instagram posts.

The photographs evoked laughter from the crowd but also showed the serious problem with Photoshop in modern society. “It was a very lighthearted way of talking about a serious topic, and it really made an impact,” Camille Candland, WC ’15, said.

More than 100,000 notes have been posted all over the world through Operation Beautiful. Boyle has received a picture of a note posted in each continent including Antarctica, she said. The notes contain a range of statements from “Smile, you’re beautiful!” to “Be yourself.”

“Caitlin was really positive. I left feeling so much better, and it’s a movement I want to participate in. I want to leave a note now,” Ali Grogan, WC ’17, said.

Boyle came to University of Richmond as a part of Tri Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week because Operation Beautiful is a national programmatic sponsor of the week.

Each year, Tri Delta hosts an international five-day body activism campaign intended to draw attention to the impact of body image issues and the societal praise for being thin, Pawlukiewicz said. “FTFW instead chooses to focus on the healthy ideal, which looks different for every person,” she said.

As a part of Fat Talk Free Week, Tri Delta tabled in the commons to have students sign the FTFW pledge, which promises to end fat talk conversations with friends, family and oneself. On Wednesday, members participated in Tidal Wheel Charity Rides, of which all proceeds were donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. 

Friday is Tri Delta’s Operation Beautiful day, and members will be posting positive post-it notes all over campus as part of Boyle’s campaign.

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