Monday, February 25, 2013

NEDAwareness Week and Operation Beautiful

Don't forget to submit an entry to the Second Annual Star of Davida Essay Contest!

This post is part of NEDAwareness Week, where everyone who wants to end eating disroders raises awareness about the issue.

I go to a private all-girls school. While the stereotype that we’re all a bunch of lesbians and catty bullies is definitely false, the stereotype that we’re all suffering from eating disorders is not too far from the truth.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Certainly there are a lot of girls at my school - I would say the large majority of the student body - who would never dream of starving themselves, vomiting up their lunch, going online to find thinspiration, or do anything of that sort. However, a sizable percentage of girls at my school are, in my opinion, unhealthily worried about their physical appearance, especially body weight. Sometimes it seems I can’t go a day without walking into the bathroom and hearing two girls counting calories or bragging how much time they spent on the elliptical. Lunchtime always depresses me, since the amount of girls eating bunny food is much too high for my liking.

It’s just so sad and unfortunate that our society has brainwashed girls to always feel inadequate, that teenage (and post-teenage) females for the need to shed pounds, add another layer of make up, do something to conform to today’s beauty standards. No one person can change this phenomenon; as depressing as it is, this will only end when a social shift occurs.

Until then, individual people CAN make a difference. I’ve begun to try and make change through the Operation Beautiful campaign. Operation Beautiful was created by Caitlin Boyle in order to end negative self-talk and thoughts among young women. Boyle was fed up by women’s constant dieting and feelings of inadequacy, so she stuck a post-it note on a bathroom mirror with a positive message about body image. This became the Operation Beautiful campaign. I’ve read about it for the past several years, but I finally decided to participate in it this year. I’m tired of hearing absolutely beautiful, intelligent, friendly girls in my school complain about how they look. So I’m doing something about it by putting sticky notes with positive messages on mirrors in my school.

Yes, the cleaning staff takes them down every night, and every once in a while I’ll find one in the garbage, but they’re worth replenishing. Whenever someone sees me putting one up, they always begin to smile and say “ooooh, you’re the one who’s doing that?” I know that people have taken notice of these notes, and in a positive ways. If even one girl is boosted for a minute because of one of my Operation Beautiful sticky notes, my mission is accomplished.

There are only three student bathrooms in my school, so it’s not too hard for me to put sticky notes in all of them on a regular basis. However, even if you go to a big school with hundreds of students and innumerable bathrooms, I strongly suggest you participate in Operation Beautiful anyway. Posting these sticky notes has also helped me, since I’ve been struggling with some weight gain in the past few months.

Some suggestions of what to say:
Girl you’re amazing just the way you are
You are beautiful in every single way
It’s what’s underneath the skin, the beauty that shines within
Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set
It’s the weight of your ideas, not your body, that counts
The inside is what’s important
You are beautiful the way you are. Right NOW. No matter what you think.
The human body is the best work of art
Even the models we see in magazines wish they could look like their own images
You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.
You are already good enough.

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