Thoughts on Body Image

in All Posts

As you may know, I run a second blog called Operation Beautiful.  The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places.  These notes typically encourage positive body image and a happy outlook.  Since I started the site, I’ve spoken to more than 3,000 girls, women, and men about body image issues, and this is the subject of my book.

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Critics of Operation Beautiful say the act is too small to have any real impact on body image, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true.  All you have to do is read the site for one week, and you’ll see tons of examples of how posting these notes has increased self-confidence and awareness.


For example:


Lili wrote, “For 10+ years, I have struggled with eating disorders, body image, and weight issues. Weight and food and health have consumed me for as long as I can remember.  When I heard about Operation Beautiful, I thought it was a wonderful idea. I bought some sticky notes and a marker, and stuck them in my purse. I would write notes and post them at school, at my counselors office, at stores, any where and everywhere — I wanted to encouraging other women.  Little did I know, I ended up encouraging myself. I wrote "You Are Beautiful" with sticky notes on my bathroom mirror at home. This was a monumental occasion for me because I have NEVER felt beautiful. I have always looked at myself negatively. But, if I believe that other women are beautiful, I need to believe the same thing about myself.  And now I do.”


I’ve gotten several emails from women who are struggling with self-confidence, Fat Talk, and (sometimes) weight gain/inability to lose weight.  I’ve noticed that these women are often the biggest supporters of Operation Beautiful, constantly sending me notes for the site.  They will end or begin their email about their issues with a line like, “I support Operation Beautiful, but I sometimes just feel so bad about myself.  I’m a fraud!”


I wanted to share some of my thoughts about the goals of the Operation Beautiful concept, or if you chose to use another method to increase self-esteem, the goals of developing body confidence in general.


I truly believe that negative self-talk is damaging.  I did it to myself for YEARS, and I can safely say that it made me an unhappy, unbalanced, miserable person.  It wasn’t so much the shape I was in, how I looked, or the way other people treated me… it was how I treated myself.


When I began to treat myself with kindness and respect, a lot of other good things happened to me, too.  For example:  people stopping walking all over me.  In many ways, when we negatively self-talk, we wish for our lives to improve or our bodies to look perfect, and then – and only then – do we plan to stop being so negative (i.e. “As soon as I lose 20 pounds, I will go on a vacation and wear a bikini.”).  You have to put the metaphorical cart before the horse.  To improve your life, relationships, and health, you have to greatly reduce your negative self-talk. 


You are your greatest love.


I fear that one accidental side effect of Operation Beautiful is that people feel that they must NEVER Fat Talk or engage in negative self-talk. If they do these behaviors, they have failed at self-worth.  The goal of Operation Beautiful is not necessarily to eliminate all Fat Talk or negative self-talk permanently.  The goal of Operation Beautiful is to open our eyes to the fact that 1) we engage in this behavior in the first place; 2) why we feel compelled to Fat Talk; and 3) what proactive steps we can do to remedy the underlying cause of our Fat Talk.


Why do we Fat Talk?  Beyond our own broken sense of self-worth, I believe we Fat Talk because:


  • We’re stressed – It’s a coping mechanism.
  • We’re mad or unhappy – Our appearance is something tangible that we can ‘control.’
  • We’re under enormous pressure from society and the media to look a certain way – And when we don’t meet these impossible standards, we freak out.


In many ways, the pursuit of perfectionism about body image is just as damaging as Fat Talk in the first place.  To feel guilty for engaging in Fat Talk is useless.  When we engage in any negative behavior, we need to look at the reasons why we are doing so. 


I occasionally engage in Fat Talk, and I negatively self-talk about once a week.  It’s a really bad habit, and it’s hard to break free from.  The FOUNDER of Operation Beautiful struggles with body image from time to time!  I consciously know that I am perfect just the way I am (and you are, too)… However, the media and models in magazines are a huge trigger for me.  I’ve stopped reading magazines that photoshop everyone into perfection.  It’s not realistic, and I don’t need those toxic thoughts in my head.


My body is STRONG, and I am very proud of it.  Does that mean I don’t have cellulite?  Does that mean I dropped those 5 pounds I gain post-marathon (which means I can’t fit into  some of my favorite jeans)? No… it does not.  But when I feel tempted to berate myself, I think, “Why? What is this going to solve? What is my heart really trying to say when I look at myself critically?”  


I wish that I could always be free of Fat Talk, but maybe in our society, it’s virtually impossible.  But I always feel better after Fat Talking because I look deep into myself to discover the root cause of this behavior.  And then I take proactive steps to remedy the situation.


  • Think critically about the media.
  • Remember all your accomplishments.
  • Consider all the wonderful things your body can do.
  • Remind yourself that life is a journey, and you’re doing the best you can do at any given moment. 
  • Cut yourself some slack.
  • Post an Operation Beautiful note for a stranger to find.
  • BELIEVE and KNOW that true beauty is on the inside.


Remember, you are beautiful.  🙂



  • Lauren April 30, 2010, 9:43 am

    I love this…you hit the nail on the head 🙂

  • Tania April 30, 2010, 9:43 am

    Amen girl!!! I think what you are doing is awesome. I’m a huge fan of O.B!! 🙂 it’s about time we had some positivity! 🙂

  • Heather ( April 30, 2010, 9:44 am

    great post, I love it! I struggle with it sometimes myself. I am very cometitive so I am always pushing myself, sometimes a little to hard (mentally) thanks for the reminder!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 30, 2010, 9:44 am

    Such a beautiful post!! I love hearing stories about how Operation Beautiful has helped me; I can relate to thar story you posted. When I first heard about OB, I thought ‘fab idea’ so I posted some notes- and realised that I wasn’t listening to my messages at all! I’m trying really hard to overcome negative body image and talk and fat talk and so on, especially at the moment as I’m so stressed. But I always read your blog and feel a bit better, cos you seem to have the issue nailed 🙂 It’s definetly an attitude I’m aiming towards (and I’m getting closer every week :D)
    Thankyou Caitlin!
    Oh, and re magazines – I have a Vogue subscription, but I’m yet to read the last two issues – I don’t want to be bombarded with photos of superskinnies, and feel like that is what I should look like. The media is awful, truly terrible 🙁

    • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 30, 2010, 9:45 am

      Oh! Which makes me think YAY BRITNEY that she posted un-airbrushed photos of herself!! More celebs should do that 🙂

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 30, 2010, 9:46 am

    I love this post, caitlin! I still struggle with my body image a lot because I did a lot of damage for being overweight and obese for so long and I fear I will never be able to undo some of that damage. I think its important to embrace yourself for who you are now and focus on good things you’ve done rather than focus on your imperfections, because everyone has them.

  • Lindsey @ Sound Eats April 30, 2010, 9:47 am

    LOVE this post! I think another reason people can fat talk/ have negative self-talk in general is isolation. Don’t isolate yourself! Your friends and family see you as beautiful – let the way they see you rub off on the way you see yourself!

    • Lynne April 30, 2010, 10:48 am

      I think this is a really good point, Lindsey. I get caught up in my own negative thoughts about myself. On the odd occasions when I’ve actually told a close friend about these thoughts, they have been shocked! No-one is as hard on us as we are on ourselves, it seems!

  • molly April 30, 2010, 9:48 am

    you’re doing something amazing w ob! The biggest impact for me is that in posting a note for others, I get a dose of self love for myself. I want other women to be confident-i deserve to be confident too!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing April 30, 2010, 9:49 am

    Love this post. I think this is something that we all need to hear every once in a while. The part where you said that life is a journey and we are doing the best we can NOW really stuck with me. Even if you are going through a hard time, you just have to remember that you’re doing the best you can at that specific time. Things will get better.

  • Trish @IamSucceeding April 30, 2010, 9:52 am

    I believe in a balanced body image.
    Focusing so much on our outward appearance is not good in my opinion, but ignoring health issues related to the outward appearance I do not believe is good either.
    I have struggled with being overweight all my life and negative self talk has been present as well as negativity form those I love about it as well. I do not think it has accomplished anything in the way of moving into a healthier life or style. Working on the inner beautiful person and believing I AM that person has. Ignoring the negativity helps me to focus on what I need to do in order for my inner and outter beings to match.
    I love your Operation Beautiful Project, I think it is doing a lot of good.

  • megan April 30, 2010, 9:55 am

    great post Caitlin! I totally agree. And just by bringing awareness to the issue, you’ve helped me cut back on negative self talk and fat talk. I told my husband about it too, and now he calls me out on it as well!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet April 30, 2010, 9:59 am

    You are so inspirational. I can’t wait until your book comes out. I truly believe that it will change the thinking of young girls today. At least, I hope it will!

  • Lisa (I'm an Okie) April 30, 2010, 10:00 am

    When I get stressed I tend to start the fat talk more–its just a way of focusing on something else (my body) other than what I need to be focusing on–what’s stressing me out. it’s easier to bash myself than to focus on the task at hand sometimes.

    It’s a horrible habit and I know over the past 3-4 months I’ve been slowly letting go of the habit and I feel 100 percent happier in life.

  • Emily April 30, 2010, 10:00 am

    so true. negative self-talk is a habit that we have to break. old habits die hard, and feeling guilty when we are struggling through that process is not helpful. i heard and awesome quote yesterday that said something along the lines of… i’m not yet where I want to be, but I know I’m not where I was.
    i also think that comparison is a huge problem. we compare ourselves to women in magazines as well as people around us. all this does is make us feel bad about ourselves and jealous of others. and it’s not just about physical appearance, it’s also about who we are. comparison needs to stop.
    thanks for the encouragement, caitlin!

  • Diana April 30, 2010, 10:01 am

    Well, I kinda needed this today. I’m having a blah day so this was very welcome. When I start feeling like that one of the things I do say to myself is that my body is healthy and it allows me to walk, run, jump, lift weights, lift my niece, help my parents around the house, etc etc. I can try to improve it but there’s really nothing wrong with it now.

  • Robyn April 30, 2010, 10:02 am

    Thanks for such a great (and honest) post. I love what you’re doing and hope one day I can be in the place you are now! I need to stop the fat talk!!

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? April 30, 2010, 10:05 am

    This is really a great post Caitlin 🙂 It’s been really hard for me as someone who grew up in a house where my family struggled with EDs, to turn out to be someone who’s overweight. It’s hard to love who I am, not who other people say I should be… it’s been a journey!

  • joanna April 30, 2010, 10:09 am

    you’re beautiful (:

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 30, 2010, 10:14 am

    NO act is too small too make a difference. Period. 🙂

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans April 30, 2010, 10:14 am

    I spent a few years working with middle school aged girls and I was always SHOCKED at how hard they are on themselves and their bodies. With every group I did a “yay me!” day where we focused on everything we were good at and everything we loved about ourselves. I wish I would have known about Operation Beautiful at the time! The smallest thing can truly make such an impact and you and your Post Its have helped make such a difference for so many young women!

  • Hedda April 30, 2010, 10:17 am

    Two little, but important words : Thank you.

    Thank you with all my heart. You have had a positive impact on my life, on my way of thinking, eating, living. On how I treat myself and other people.
    Thank you.

  • Hangry Pants April 30, 2010, 10:20 am

    I don’t think any action, even post-its, are too small to make a positive difference to someone. 🙂

  • Lauren (Health on the Run) April 30, 2010, 10:23 am

    Caitlin — I think this is my favorite post that I’ve read from you!! And I think you touch on a very important point — “fat talk” doesn’t just disappear one day. We all have days where it seems like more of a struggle to accept ourselves and when, no matter how hard we try, we’re going to slip back into the negative self-talk. The important thing is that we are then able to take a step back and remind ourselves of all the things you have listed above. I know whenever I am having a really insecure/awful day, I stop and think about how much my body has accomplished…and how many things I can push it to do. And I have a little moment when I thank God for all those positive things. 🙂

    Also, I can’t believe people criticize that OB is too small to make a difference…I absolutely hate that kind of thinking. I applaud you for everything you’ve done and are continuing to do!! You truly are an inspiration to so many people out there. Keep up the amazing work girl! 🙂

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) April 30, 2010, 10:26 am

    this was exactly what i needed to read this morning…thank you 🙂

  • Sarah for Real April 30, 2010, 10:29 am

    Thank you for that Caitlin, it really clarified some things for me. I especially love the “metaphorical cart before the horse” part. It takes some faith to believe that if you are positive about yourself and your body that positive things will follow. I’m on the path now!

  • Kelly April 30, 2010, 10:29 am

    Love this post, thanks Caitlin!

  • alex April 30, 2010, 10:29 am

    annnnnd now i’m crying at my desk.
    so sweet.

  • Camille April 30, 2010, 10:29 am

    Caitlin, I absolutely love this post.
    I always know that when I am feeling a bit down on myself I can look at Operation Beautiful and know that I am perfect just the way I am 🙂

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 30, 2010, 10:30 am

    Wow, I absolutely love this post. I used to “fat talk” myself all through out high school and I had such little confidence. After I finally realized what I was doing I started looking in the mirror and telling myself how strong I am.
    Thank you for the great post 🙂

  • Mallory April 30, 2010, 10:30 am

    I think your Operation Beautiful is a wonderful project and amazing of you to take the time and effort to get it up and running. I have read a lot over the blog world about your OB and finally checked it out. it is great and i think you are helping a lot of people.

    i am a tough love, tell me how it is straight up kinda person. so for me, in my own ED recovery, this stuff doesnt help me as much as i should “let it,” but i know SOO many people who it will help.

    fat talk is everywhere, especially my office. every lady is one a different diet and everyone thinks theyre right- so annoying…

  • Jessica April 30, 2010, 10:34 am

    i needed this morning…REALLY BAD!!


  • Lynne April 30, 2010, 10:40 am

    What an amazing post! I engage in negative self talk a lot, but thanks to blogs like yours and Angela’s, I notice when I’m doing it and try to address what’s behind it. This has made such a difference to my life and my relationships. Thank you so much, Caitlin. 🙂

  • Janae April 30, 2010, 10:44 am

    WOW!! Thank you so much for this post. No I wasn’t crying throughout the whole thing:) I absolutely love the steps you listed to do anytime you do have fat talk. There really is a deeper reason that we pick ourselves apart and that needs to be addressed. Thanks again. What a great way to start my day! P.S. I am a high school health teacher and my girls participate in operation beautiful and I KNOW it has made a difference in these young girls lives!

  • emptynutjar April 30, 2010, 10:50 am

    I think you are an amazing and beautiful person, I really do! I wonder how you can be younger than me and so self-assured and grounded. I have to admit, I was a bit jealous at first reading about all of it…I thought “yes , u r confident and all this…but u are physically beautiful, u have a good relationship with dad/husband/friends (it appears anyway!), u have a book deal, and u have outstanding physical health and ability”…like I wonder whether for some of us, not as physically beautiful (or at least unable to afford much more than socks 🙂 ), or those of us who have lost physical capabilities, etc…i wonder if its as easy for us…that is why maybe some of us find it a true daily struggle…and others seem to not understand it (really).

    But I realize that that kind of thinking can be petty. No point in envying others for their fortune or debating over who has it harder…in the end a person has to try to be the absolute best that he/she can be.

    And thankfully people like u exist to at least show us that there is good in the world. Even if we cannot attain it to the same heights…I might never have your physical beauty or capabilities…but I can strive to have your positivity and strength (and in the face of an adverse kind of life, it can only make me more resilient and a better human being).

    I believe u will be on Ellen one day for sure 😉

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 11:06 am

      i think you should read my book when it comes out! i think you will be surprised to see the things i have to reveal about my past. looks can be deceiving.

      thanks for your support.

    • PhillyGirlRuns April 30, 2010, 1:49 pm

      I love this comment — because I have found myself thinking the same exact thing. More than once, I’ve read message from bloggers saying, essentially — “Stop focusing on your outsides! It doesn’t matter if you look the way society wants you to look — it’s your INSIDES that make you beautiful!”…which is a great message, but also, it’s really easy to say that when you just so happen to be “beautiful” in the classical, stereotypical sense. (When I say “you,” Caitlin, I don’t mean just you specifically — but it’s certainly crossed my mind before! :))

      Regardless — I do love Operation Beautiful and I think it’s an amazing thing. I’m very much looking forward to reading the book.

      • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 1:52 pm

        i totally understand what both of you are saying, but in general i think it’s very dangerous to assume we know what people are thinking or feeling based on their outside appearances. one thing i’ve learned since running the operation beautiful site is that the “prettiest” girls have the same issues that everyone else struggles with, and the “thinest” girls are not the most happy (just think of anorexia!). i think it’s easy to assume we know everything about a person at one glance, but that is simply not true. we cannot look at someone at know if they have struggled with depression, self-mutilation, been molested, been cheated on, etc. all of these factors can have a profound impact on the way a person feels about their outward appearance, regardless of how society sees them.

        • emptynutjar April 30, 2010, 1:55 pm

          Oh, I completely agree with you both. We never ever ever ever know what is really occuring within a person, etc.
          For me, I find it difficult to see physically capable athletes take their physical capabilities for granted. I try to wake up every day and say “thank u for my 2 legs because they can stand and a walk a little”. Its tough to see people do the things one once did or longs to still do. But thats neither here or there.
          The best someone like me can do is look at someone like u and take away the things I can emulate (positivity, love, joy, peace).
          Judging and assuming is wrong. Though it is human nature and can be a struggle to triumph over!

        • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 1:58 pm

          wise words, girlfriend. wise words.

          after i finished the Operation Beautiful book, I had a great discussion with someone about the marginalization of women with disabilities in society. It was such a great and profound talk, and I wish I would’ve been smart enough to include it in the book.

          Sometimes beautiful is as simple as being appreciative of all the things we can do, even if it’s limited in some way.

    • Hedda April 30, 2010, 4:29 pm

      You can never have Caitlins beauty or capabilities, but you can have your own beauty and capabilities. Find your own way, and find peace with the one you are.
      There will always be someone “prettier”, “taller”, “smarter”, and if we start to compare ourself we are doomed to feel down. You are unique, and you are beautiful because of your struggle, and because you keep on trying.
      I thought being the thinnest girl in the room was some secret key to happiness. It was not. It nearly killed me, but today I am thankful for what I have been through, as it has taught me a lot about body image and what matters in life.
      Wish you all the best!

  • Sarah April 30, 2010, 10:50 am

    My outlook on body image has improved so much due to some of the food bloggers out there who repeat the same positive mindset over & over. I went bathing suit shopping recently and when I saw how I looked in one, I was fine. Not because my body has changed, but because my outlook has changed. I know what my body looks like. It’s not perfect. Putting it in a bathing suit isn’t going to change anything and it was so nice not to beat myself up in the dressing room. In fact, I got mad at the magazines who try to convince me that everyone has a perfectly proportioned body and airbrush models into that look. There are days when I feel like I am a bit “softer” than I’d like. No longer do I tear myself down. I remember that I can do something about it because I’ve seen so many positive examples on the web. So I am motivated to take a step forward rather than sitting at home berating myself for what I haven’t done in the past. It is very freeing! Thank you so much for your consistent message about body image. It takes a lot of work to counteract what society tells us but I am glad that you’re taking it on and making a difference.

  • Katie April 30, 2010, 10:51 am

    Thanks so much for this post – it was just what I needed this morning!!!

  • Emily April 30, 2010, 10:53 am

    This is why HTP is my favorite blog- and I read ’em all! You rock!

  • Jenny April 30, 2010, 10:56 am

    Don’t listen to critics- operation beautiful has had a huge impact on me and probably all or most other people who have seen or heard of it!

  • Lisa of Lisa at Home April 30, 2010, 10:59 am

    This post gave me chills, Caitlin. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much, you’ve really helped me on my journey to a positive body image .

  • Rachel April 30, 2010, 11:00 am

    Wonderful post as always!

    I have finally gotten into the habit of following up with myself after I engage in some negative behaivor, instead of shoving it under the rug.

    Instead of just going “Rachel, you ate way too much today and will probably gain 5 lbs”, I follow up with “Hey, wait a minute, your hair looks good, you are going a good job taking care of your new puppy, and you ran 40 miles this month!”

    The negativity will always be there on some level, for me I think. We can always manage to find SOMETHING wrong, but if I can combat it with 3 or 4 good things about myself, then at the end of the day I feel a lot better with who I am and my place in the world.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople April 30, 2010, 11:07 am

    I think I’ve mentioned before how much I completely love Operation Beautiful and of course, you for starting it! I have posted my own messages and always secretly hope I’ll find one!

    I’m actually really surprised you have critics! I guess everyone does; people always want to hate on things. But, I can definitely attest to the amazing power in one little note. I got a HUGE confidence boost when I left mine. I don’t know who found them, but I’m sure they made someone smile. =)

  • alli April 30, 2010, 11:10 am

    this might be my all time favorite post!

  • Peace.Love.Nutrition April 30, 2010, 11:11 am

    Operation Beautiful is such a wonderful concept! Thank you for coming up with this and sharing it with the world. I have to admit- sometimes that voice in my head with the negative thoughts pops up but I remind myself that it’s not my friend and I’m in control of my thoughts and to remain positive. It puts the power in my hands and does not let me ED control my life!

    THanks again. You are wonderful : )

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) April 30, 2010, 11:15 am

    Caitlin thank you so much for acknowledging that you still engage in fat talk sometimes. It is a hard habit to break but through thinking about myself more positively most of the time the times I don’t are less frequent. Thank you for your support of all beauty.

  • Hallie April 30, 2010, 11:15 am

    This was such a great post. I’ve been feeling very “blah” about gaining a few pounds, and now that I’m training for my first 1/2 marathon, I keep telling myself that running would be so much easier if I dropped 5-10 lbs. But yesterday I sorta had this epiphany that while yes, that may be true, and it’ ok that I’m not super-pleased with the weight gain, I’m not a bad person or a failure because I have those extra lbs, and even though running isn’t easier, I’m still getting out there and what I’m doing is good enough, RIGHT NOW. You SO perfectly articulated what I’ve been thinking about this week, thank you for that!

  • Courtney R. April 30, 2010, 11:18 am

    Keep up the good work!! Have you ever read the book “Do I look fat in this? It is a book I often recommend to my patients. It talks about decoding fat talk. When my patients say “I feel fat” I always say fat is not a feeling so tell me how you are REALLY feeling. There is always an emotion behind it!!

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat April 30, 2010, 11:18 am

    I’m really surprised that people would say the effort is too small to make an impact. That’s like saying you aren’t going to give $10 to charity because it’s not $1,000. Every little bit we do makes a difference.

    Even if only one person changes how they feel about themselves from negative to positive, than your mission has been a success. But I know it has already impacted many more lives than that! Can’t wait to see the book 🙂

  • Mary April 30, 2010, 11:22 am

    I love this post. Thank you 🙂

  • Lisa April 30, 2010, 11:30 am

    When I was fat, I told myself I’d be happy if I was “skinny.” I struggled, I lost the weight, I did find some shallow happiness…but I still wasn’t satisfied with myself. I thought “I’ll just lose another 10 pounds and I’ll be happy.” It wasn’t until I put those thoughts aside and decided to WORK on myself (and not physically) that I started to really heal myself and find happiness.

    On another note, I think women in general can be really mean to each other. Catty, petty, jealous…if we as a community can turn that around, I think we’ll all be happier! 🙂

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries April 30, 2010, 11:38 am

    “You are your greatest love.” <- What an awesome quote. I think everyone, girls especially, need to read this post.

  • Scargosun April 30, 2010, 11:39 am

    WOW! This is a great day! I have been reading all sorts of inspirational posts. I was going to post pics of the bathing suit I bought for the summer all over my house to remind me of my goals but I think this one is much more fulfilling. 🙂

  • Katie - Life Discombobulated April 30, 2010, 11:39 am

    What an awesome post to read on a Friday morning! It’s not easy to accept myself exactly as I am and it’s something I work on all the time. I think that I – as a person – am pretty freakin’ great, but have struggled with body issues for years. Whenever I have negative thoughts about how I look, I try to remind myself of the positives. I remind myself how wonderful and strong my legs are and thank them for how much they’ve gotten me through – and will continue to get me through. I absolutely love reading your – and everyone else’s – take on this issue. It’s so awesome that there is such a community of people out there actively trying to make a change in how women feel about themselves and their bodies. LOVE IT!

  • Mama Pea April 30, 2010, 11:52 am

    Oooh…could fat talk be the topic of book #2?

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) April 30, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful post! 😀 Thank you so much for being an inspiration to so many girls and women, Caitlin!

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary April 30, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Great post Caitlin. Sometimes that’s just what a girl needs to read first thing in the morning 🙂

  • Kilee April 30, 2010, 12:14 pm

    You are so inspiring! Thank you for all of your hard work encouraging women to love the bodies they are in. Do I think that it is a coincident that over this past year while you featured the “operation beautiful blog” I have learned to appreciate my body instead of putting myself down for not looking like a model? No. Because of your efforts, thousands of women are learning how to accept & appreciate themselves.

    Keep up the amazing work! Thank you!

  • Erin April 30, 2010, 12:20 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts, Caitlin. It seems silly, but I am over six feet tall, and, as a woman, I really struggle with the fact that my “numbers” (weight, size, etc.) can never be as small as most thin women. But I know I have to let this go, and just work on being my healthiest self!

  • Jo April 30, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Love this post Caitlin, I have posted it to the diet & fitness website I post on as I really think it will help the people over there.

    Keep up the awesome work *mwah*

  • Jenn ( April 30, 2010, 12:34 pm

    Excellent post, Caitlin! 😀

    Critics have to understand that every little bit helps, and that OB shouldn’t be taken as the be-all and end-all of all things self-esteem, it’s just a nudge in the right direction. Positive reinforcement is never useless!!

    I still fat talk and talk negatively about myself, I probably always will! BUT, over the past few years I have learned to LOVE myself, faults and fat and all. 😀 I’m my own best friend and my worst critic, and I’m ok with that!


  • Liz April 30, 2010, 1:00 pm

    You have such a positive outlook on things. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  • Jessica April 30, 2010, 1:01 pm

    You are such an inspiration to me, Caitlin! I can’t wait to buy your book. I constantly struggle with fat talk and disordered thinking/eating, and feel like it’s something I’m going to have to deal with my whole life. However, it gives me hope to know that you’ve been able to overcome it. I hope someday to have half as much confidence as you do (and you should, you are beautiful and are doing amazing things)!

  • Carrie H April 30, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Oh man, I am struggling lately. My self-esteem has been pretty low lately, and I need to snap out of it. It sometimes seems easier to just let yourself wallow and descend into low self esteem (depression), but it is selfish and self-serving to do that. That might sound harsh, and I know depression is a disease and I certainly know it isn’t easy or even possible sometimes to “snap out of it,” but actively pursuing positivity is a choice I know I can and need to start making again. I think I’m gonna leave an OB note today. I haven’t done so in a looooong time and I think it’s time to re-start.

    You are awesome. Thanks for being around. I’m totally asking for your book for Christmas. (It won’t be available for my June 5 b-day, will it?)

  • Carrie H April 30, 2010, 1:06 pm

    P.S. I just went to amazon to see when your book is available (again — I’ve done it millions of times but keep forgetting) and I just want to add:

    I loooooooooooooooooove you! You have a boooooooooooooooook coming out! You are a published author! Wooooooooooohooooooooo! Your book is on amazon!!!!!!

    (I know I’m basically a stranger, but cut me some slack, ok? he he.)

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:08 pm

      i looooove you too! you are one of my favs!

  • Julia @ British Bride April 30, 2010, 1:29 pm

    A wonderful, well thought out post. Thankyou

  • Kristy April 30, 2010, 1:30 pm

    I just finished reading a post by “bitchcakes”, where she disclosed the deepest darkest most hurtful things that she says/did/thinks about her self. I wanted to hug her because of course as a women we all struggle at some point with jealousy and self “hate”. Operation beautiful is exactly what the doctor ordered for SO MANY souls, women especially. You are such a courageous woman for taking a stand against the “trends”! Op beautiful has helped me move away from tearing my peers apart, now I was to lift everyone up! Smiling at a stranger or posts a simple note does make a DIFFERENCE!

  • Kim April 30, 2010, 1:31 pm

    To add, I think as women we need to support each other. Often times, we judge each other and with that also comes self-judgment. If we just stopped comparing ourselves to other women, we wouldn’t be so hard on our self esteem. “You are smart AND so am I…” “She is awesome and you know what, I kick ass too!”

  • Brooke April 30, 2010, 1:39 pm

    I am a few years older than you and always thought I would outgrow ‘fat talk’. I thought, magically, at a certain age I would just be satisfied with myself. So not true. I am an athlete. I love fitness and am studing nutrition. I love eating healthfully! I also have a terrific husband (going on 8 years!!) and 2 beautiful children. It is one of my biggest fears that my daughter (she is 4) will grow up to be as insecure and unhappy with her body image as I am. I am extremely careful as to what I say outloud and NEVER fat talk around her. She is beautiful and perfect. I want to do everything I can to encourage, support and bolster her confidence. Some task in this day and age!

    Anyway, I wanted to thank-you for Operation Beautiful and this post. It certainly hits home and gives me hope that I can move beyond all of the negativity! This is such an important, often taboo, topic. So, thank-you, thank-you for your amazing work!

  • *Andrea* April 30, 2010, 1:42 pm

    you’re amazing 🙂 those critics can shove it haha, you have made a huge difference in so many of our lives just in the blogosphere.. can’t imagine how many more will be affected thru the book! xo

  • Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) April 30, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Wonderful, wonderful post Caitlin!


  • Amelia April 30, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this post & your wonderful Operation Beautiful message. You should feel awesome about the work you’re doing– you’ve helped so many women (myself included) to improve their self image. I really admire your positive viewpoint and am always inspired to be better to myself when I read posts like this. You’re a wonderful roll model for little girls & women everywhere!!!

  • Susan April 30, 2010, 2:16 pm

    The best advice I ever got came from my mother. It was after my parent’s messy divorce, I was just a teenager, and the slew of feelings that comes with that. She told me that the most important relationship in my life is the one I have with myself. Because, as much as we ignore it, people really do come and go, but we are stuck with ourselves forever. It’s really important to learn how to be happy and content with one’s self. And more importantly, treat ourselves with respect. 80 years can be a long-ass time to be stuck with a person. Treat that person well 🙂

    I should say though, I don’t always practice what I preach. Some days I look in the mirror and think I’m a fat blob. BUT I’ve come leaps and bounds in recent years, and I know I’m only going to get better with it. I’ve got around 60 years left myself! 😉

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle April 30, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Just read through some comments, and the one you pointed at on Twitter (#33) and I can’t respond right onto that thread but I liked the point that it can be easy to make a hierarchy of who has it the “worst.” Cutting yourself or others down based on those type of judgments can be just as hurtful. on the same note, I wrote this the other day somewhere else “Through a blog on a computer screen, you can never know what people really have going on in their lives, how they dealt with a relationship/eating issue/financial strain/terrible family/health problem/emotional struggles, or what cards they were dealt in the past by seeing their current situation via blog.” It could also apply to actresses or models and whoever else we compare ourselves with. Maybe they do look good and happy (or airbrushed) but that’s their job. Who knows what they have gone through in their life, and they may have experienced unimaginable pain.

    The whole scope of this rambling boils down to what we learn from childhood “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” It applies to judging other people AND yourself!

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 2:29 pm

      great thought, katie. this is so so so true.

  • Melissa April 30, 2010, 2:49 pm

    Fantastic post. You are so real and I love it! You are truly inspiring post it at time, no matter what anyone says:) Thanks again for sharing!

  • Sam (My Sugar Obsession) April 30, 2010, 2:52 pm

    BEST POST EVER. i love your blog SO MUCH. what you are doing is AMAZING. operation beautiful is EPIC. have you ever done any operation beautiful talks on the west coast? i love in arizona and would LOVE to see you talk if you ever came out here!!!

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:07 pm

      i have not done any talks out west yet but i would love to! if i get any, i will post about it on the blogs!

  • Grapeful April 30, 2010, 2:52 pm

    I didn’t know there were critics of Operation Beautiful. The seemingly simplest ideas are usually the ones with the most profound effect! I was just wondering has anyone ever criticized Operation Beautiful for diluting the compliment of “You’re beautiful?” I mean when someone pays you a compliment, it’s usually because they truly find something worthy and unique about you that they don’t see in someone else. Do you think that paying abundant anonymous comments to strangers you’ll never see dilutes a “You’re beautiful” comment?

    Just wondering. I’m not trying to criticize your cause, I actually think it’s a worthy moment.

    Also, I was just wondering as a blogger if you get any mean comments and how you deal with them in general.

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:07 pm

      i have heard that people think that an anonymous compliment is meaningless, but in my experience, people often feel the notes were ‘sent from above’ or ‘meant’ especially for them. not everyone LOVES the notes when they find them, but if it impacts one person, who cares? thats how i think of it anyway! not everything is for everyone.

      i get very few mean comments but i brush most of them off. most mean comments are ridiculous (“you’re an ugly and stupid bitch”) and therefore don’t impact me. i like dissenting comments though as long as they are written respectfully!

  • Jordan April 30, 2010, 2:58 pm

    Love this! Now if only we could get rid of the damn Photoshopping and “OMG look how (insert celebrity mom here) magically lost all her baby weight. Real women. Real food. Real fit.

  • D April 30, 2010, 3:01 pm

    today i was in class and the girl sitting next to me said “look at that girl that just walked in!” and i thought she was going to laugh or say something negative, and i asked her why and she said “she looks so pretty today!”

    it made me realise how much people say negative things about people we dont know, but you RARELY (or maybe its just me, but i never hear it!) hear people say nice things about strangers, especially girls. i think that we’re really great about telling our friends that they look great (and obviously other non-appearance related compliments) but we forget that girls we dont know are no diferent, and just because you dont know someone doesnt mean its okay to say mean things!

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:05 pm

      i know… i wish we would say nice things to strangers more.

  • Retta @ RunRettaRun April 30, 2010, 3:15 pm

    Love the OB message and it’s obviously affecting people all over the world. Hello, Oprah! 🙂

  • Julie April 30, 2010, 3:55 pm

    I think what you do is amazing. Body image issues really are an epidemic in this country (and I’m guessing most westernized ones too). And it’s sooo easy to assume things about people. Things like, that woman is gorgeous, what stressors does she have? These thoughts only feed jealously, resentment, unhappiness with yourself, etc. When we stop comparing ourselves, beating ourselves up for not achieving some arbitrary standard of beauty, and assuming other’s have it all (while we clearly don’t), then we can start accepting ourselves! Thanks for the enlightening discussion, as always.

  • Nancy April 30, 2010, 3:59 pm

    This was such a wonderful entry because I think so many women find themselves stuck with this negative thought process about their bodies and themselves. Essentially, you are promoting cognitive restructuring and how one should be more supportive and kind to ourselves. I loved this entry!

  • Amanda (Amanda "runs") April 30, 2010, 4:50 pm

    Love the OB post! Hooray OB! 🙂

  • Leslie Moore April 30, 2010, 4:51 pm

    very good post. Do you ever feel like you fat talk in your head more when you wear a pair of pants that are a little snug. I hate when I push myself into pants that I am not yet ready for (post-baby me) and then the whole day it is like the pants are screaming at me. Sweatpants are like a big OB Note then! They make me feel good 🙂

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:08 pm

      hahah i love that. sweatpants are like an ob note!

  • Samantha April 30, 2010, 6:35 pm

    I still find myself struggling with fat talk and negativity…but I also catch myself much more often. And one of the first steps I take when “I” am feeling down is to post notes to others…the effect really does filter down.

    Critics do those passionate a service…motivate them to push even harder which you no doubt continue to do. Most major successes were rooted in small things. OpBeaut has proven to be a positive movement internationally, across gender lines, touching those of all colors, shapes and sizes. To me that sounds pretty impactful!

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step”-Chinese Proverb

  • Julie @ Wearing Mascara April 30, 2010, 6:40 pm

    The people who criticize this movement aren’t seeing the real picture. If a small picture of a seemingly “perfect” woman can effect a young girl so profoundly in a negative way, then seeing a small positive note can have the same opposite, positive effect. Excellent post!

  • Barb April 30, 2010, 7:19 pm

    I want you to know that I teach at a high school in NEOhio and I walked into the bathroom last week and there was a post it on the mirror in beautiful handwriting that said, “you are beautiful” It made me smile and I gave me a really good feeling to know that there was a high school girl in our school that wanted to make other girls feel beautiful and not bring them down.

    It wasn’t until I saw this post that I ‘got’ where that note’s idea came from.

    I follow your blog because I am vegan and love your recipes. But also love the idea of helping women/girls feel more beautiful. We all are, aren’t we??

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:09 pm

      i love that you found a note!

  • Jolene ( April 30, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Great post!! I love the Operation Beautiful project and what it is doing for women.

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels April 30, 2010, 9:51 pm

    I always wonder at critics. What a waste of energy to engage in a debate about whether someone who is trying to do good in the world, is doing it on a large enough scale. Wouldn’t their energy be better spent on helping you with your cause?

    • Caitlin April 30, 2010, 9:52 pm

      i really wonder about the energy spent on negativity, too!

      • Wei-Wei May 1, 2010, 1:52 am

        I’m not sure… I used to be a VERY pessimistic person; I just thought I was being “realistic.” I mean… the world out there IS a lot meaner and tougher than it is in fairy tale books, but there are good things and good people, right? See all the people here… They’re all trying to be healthy and they all support Operation Beautiful. I think that’s a good enough representation of this community! 😀


  • Amy April 30, 2010, 10:09 pm

    I don’t know if it’s Operation Beautiful, this blog, other healthy living blogs I read, or the women’s trail running group I joined (pretty sure it’s a combo of all of them), but I have never been more confident and comfortable with myself in all my 33 years. You’re making a difference. Thank you.

  • Jes (Self Motivation) April 30, 2010, 10:12 pm

    Your comment about what the critics say made me remember a wonderful story that I read years ago that has never left me. I found a link for the story online (

    The Starfish Story

    While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

    As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

    He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

    The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

    To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

    Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”


    This story has been circulated around the web in many versions, usually with no mention of author. It is said to be paraphrased from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley, 1907 – 1977.

    • Wei-Wei May 1, 2010, 1:50 am

      That’s a beautiful story! Let’s all change our minds… one OB note at a time!

      You’re beautiful! 😉 Have a great day today! 😀


  • Wei-Wei May 1, 2010, 1:44 am

    I totally agree with this… Nobody can be perfect all the time, not even in trying to accept that you’re not perfect. It’s just human nature to compare ourselves to others and sometimes you’ll just… feel bad. I guess it’s just a… balance, I guess? Minimize (not eliminate – that’s impossible!) the bad thoughts and maximize the good ones!

    I want you to know how much you’ve helped me in with my body image with OB and just your positive outlook on everything – I really look up to you as a role model, and I hope I can be like you someday – fit, healthy and gorgeous! 😀 You’re beautiful, and don’t you EVER forget it!


  • Gena May 1, 2010, 7:42 am

    Exquisite post. I don’t know that any one of us can just shut fat talk down, but you’re doing a darn good job, Caitlin.

  • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. May 1, 2010, 9:43 am

    I would agree, operation beautiful isn’t about the people who see the notes, it is about the note writers. Becoming an advocate for an idea is one of the quickest way to internalize and accept that idea. It’s why new members in a cult are the ones actively recruiting. It cements their belief.

  • Meg May 1, 2010, 6:11 pm

    Life is too short for self hate and fat talk.
    We’re not all supposed to look alike…we’re all made differently.
    I wish people would embrace that fact…I wish that we could just accept our bodies and focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t.
    Although, when it comes to eating disorders, saying that “i wish we could just stop it altogether” is much too hard to just stop. Trust me…I know from experience.

    I love this movement – good job! xoxo

  • Danielle May 2, 2010, 6:51 pm

    I SO needed to read this tonight. I was visiting my mom this weekend so I’m just now catching up on my Google Reader from the last few days. Thank you for reminding all of us about how easy it is to get caught up in negative self talk. THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

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