Operation Beautiful promotes body positivity in unexpected places

In celebration of Body Positivity Week, Feb. 25 through March 1, Mississippi State University’s Department of Health Promotion and Wellness will enact Operation Beautiful.

Operation Beautiful is a worldwide objective dedicated to celebrating all bodies, one Post-it note at a time.

Participants place uplifting sticky notes across public areas to encourage others; in MSU’s case, these messages can be found in bathrooms across campus starting Monday, Feb. 25.

The point of this project is to prove all bodies are beautiful. Caitlin Boyle, Operation Beautiful’s founder, is particularly passionate about eliminating “fat talk.”

She began Operation Beautiful to enlighten women on the toxic nature of fat talk and its harmful emotional, spiritual and physical effects.

Kim Kavalsky, the Department of Health Promotion and Wellness’s mental health coordinator, discovered Operation Beautiful during her first year on the job in 2013 when she was researching ideas of raising awareness for eating disorders and body image challenges.

“I immediately fell in love with the idea, thinking that it was something small, but could have an impact and reach a lot of people,” Kavalsky said. “I have tried to do Operation Beautiful each February ever since.”

This year, Kavalsky hopes it will continue to serve as a positive reminder that everyone is worthy. For many, it is difficult to look in a mirror and see anything other than imperfections.

As a result of what is entitled the “appearance ideal,” it often takes much more effort to look past flaws and see something good.

With a combination of practice and outreach programs like Operation Beautiful, body image activists hope MSU students can see past the appearance ideal.

Kameron Talley, a graduate student working with Kavalsky, believes Body Positivity Week will make a powerful impact on students' self-image.

“This week, we are encouraging everyone at MSU to love their bodies and appreciate their health,” Talley said. “As someone who has struggled with negative thoughts about my body, I aspire to bring about love this week for every body.”

In the past, Body Positivity Week was celebrated at MSU as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The Department of Health Promotion and Wellness wanted this week to be more inclusive, however, and thus Body Positivity Week was born.

Each year, the department offers different events to raise awareness about body image and challenging negative self-talk. This year’s hashtag is #celebrate_everyBODY.

In addition to Operation Beautiful, Health Promotion and Wellness will table on the Drill Field on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, department members will be handing out KIND bars and Dove chocolate from 11-1. The themes are “Be KIND to Your Body” and “Be in Dove with Your Body.”

Students will also have the opportunity to add their handprint to a mural describing how they matter. Counseling services will be available, along with buttons containing positive messages.

The following day, Feb. 27, Health Promotion and Wellness will return at the same time on the Drill Field with bananas free to the public under the theme “Go Bananas for Your Body.”

Finally, on March 1, the department will join forces with University Recreation to host a yoga class on the Drill Field at noon, weather permitting.

A table will also pass out temporary tattoos of orange butterflies to raise awareness of self-harm.

For any students seeking to become involved, the Department of Health Promotion and Wellness always welcomes volunteers who can email Kavalsky directly.

The department, along with the Collegiate Recovery Community, is also offering a discussion group for young women struggling with self-love called the Lotus Group. The group meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the CRC house located at 140 Magruder Street.

Though Body Positivity Week only comes once a year, all body image activists hope its effects last year-wide.

“We are all bold, strong, beautiful, and wonderful, and I hope that our community will shed light upon those truths this week,” said Talley.

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