It was just a little Post-It note on the mirror in the women's bathroom at The Mining Journal. It read: "Someone's looking beautiful today... operationbeautiful.com."
A ways down the glass, there was another reading "Hope you are having an awesome day... operationbeautiful.com."
On my computer keyboard the next morning, the note read: "Smile, because you're beautiful! www.operationbeautiful.com."
All of which, of course, sparked my curiosity and sent me to the aforementioned website. And led me to email its founder, Caitlin Boyle, asking her how the project was launched.
"Operation Beautiful was started in 2009 after I had a really bad day," she said in her e-reply. "I was standing in a public bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, and beating myself up mentally for not doing as well as I hoped on a test. I decided to put a stop to the negative talk and wrote, 'You are beautiful' on a Post-It. I took a picture and blogged about my experience, and the rest is history!
"Since then, I've received over 12,000 notes from people all over the world, and the site has spawned two books, including a new book for tween and teen girls."
Outstanding. As someone who has been overweight her entire life, self-esteem issues are all too familiar. In fact, just a few weeks ago, while talking with one of my dearest friends, we discussed how words wound the soul the way fists wound the body.
The idea of brightening someone's day with a just a little note is charming. And hopefully, it makes a difference to someone having a really rough go of it.
Because, you know what, we ARE all beautiful, no matter what some might try to tell us.
While I didn't write about it at the time, Jennifer Livingston's battle with her bully last month reminded me this as well.
For anyone who missed it, Livingston - a news anchor at WKBT-TV in LaCrosse, Wis. - took on a man who bullied her about her weight via an email. He chastised her for being a "poor role model." She gave an impassioned, on-point response and said perfectly what needed to be said. Here is part of it:
"We are better than that email. We are better than the bullies that would try to take us down. And I leave you with this. To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face. Listen to me right now. Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many."
To hear her complete statement, Google the words "Jennifer Livingston" and the YouTube video is the first thing to come up. She did an absolutely beautiful job in conveying her response.
And as Caitlin and Jennifer - and now I - are trying to say, when you have a choice to be cruel or be kind, please do the latter. You'll never know when kind words, even on a Post-It on a bathroom mirror, could make a real difference in the life of someone you know... or even someone you don't know.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.