Crafty


Fat. Worthless. Not pretty.

Thousands of women from all walks of life tell themselves these words every day. “I berated myself every day for not being perfect,” summarized Caitlin Boyle, creator of the Operation Beautiful project and author of the newly released book Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time.

“I spontaneously scribbled ‘You are beautiful!’ on a scrap of notebook paper and stuck it on the mirror,” described Caitlin. When she realized how good the spontaneous act made her feel, she posted a photo of the note on her blog with a call for others to join the project. The reaction was quick and startling: emails flooded in from across the country, then across the globe. She received pictures of Operation Beautiful notes in Chinese, German and Spanish. She even received a photo of a note posted in a soldier’s barracks in Iraq. Soon after, emails began arriving from women who had found the notes. “For each woman, it seemed like the Operation Beautiful note was divine intervention. Women found an Operation Beautiful note when they needed it the most.”

Operation Beautiful has evolved into a volunteer grassroots movement to impact women’s perception of body image, health, and self worth. “I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is  — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically,” wrote Caitlin.

Participants send in photos and descriptions of their experiences to Caitlin, who posts new ones each day to http://operationbeautiful.com/.

“One day I made about 100 little slips of paper that said ‘Hey you, yeah you. You’re absolutely beautiful. Don’t forget it,’ and posted them in the bathrooms of my school. About an hour later, I found a girl sitting on the floor in a bathroom crying and holding one of the papers I had made. I asked her what was wrong and she said she’d never been called beautiful in her life. She couldn’t stop smiling.”

Operation Beautiful "protest" in Nevada

“I’m always looking in my mental mirror… Why can’t I have a flat stomach? Why can’t I have perfect skin? Why can’t I wear clothes that make me feel beautiful? I don’t want my daughters to see this… That’s not something I want them to learn. I don’t want them to learn to cause themselves pain on a daily basis by not believing in how beautiful they are… Operation Beautiful is, well, there’s no better, more obvious description than “beautiful”. I promise that because you ALL are so determined to help someone feel worth it and beautiful on a daily basis…I will help you by doing the same. I’ll be carrying around a post it pad wherever I go…”

Operation Beautiful note: "This # doesn't change who you are. You are BEAUTIFUL!"

“I’ve suffered from anorexia for five years. I was sexually assaulted three times in my short life. I’m only 18. I found Operation Beautiful on Facebook and it makes my day every time I visit it. I realize that it’s not worth hurting my body because somebody hurt me. I grow stronger every day because of the things I’ve been through. I’ve been told that I’m emotionally the strongest person some people know. I never used to feel that way. I’ve always told myself that it all was my fault. Thanks to Operation Beautiful, I realized I am not the only one going through these things.

Operation Beautiful note: "You have a beautiful smile!"

To accompany the book release, Caitlin is encouraging bloggers to write about issues related to self perception, fitness, and health as part of a “Virtual Book Tour” that will run August 2-7. To join the Operation Beautiful movement or explore the Virtual Book Tour, check out http://www.operationbeautiful.com.

Know a great volunteer or volunteer organization? Leave me a comment or email me through this link to let me know!

We’ve gotten through the first rush of back-to-school days. We’re planning Halloween costumes and treats. Summer is truly over and colder temperatures are on their way.

Diana Gonzalez – artist, writer, and “crafty mom” – is planning a dinosaur costume and pulling out winter clothing, but her thoughts are also on the many New Yorkers who will fend off the cold weather from inside shelters or on the city streets.

In November 2008 more than 36,600 homeless men, women, and children spent each night in New York City municipal shelters. Thousands more sleep on city streets, in public parks, in the subway system, and in other public spaces. (Data Source: Coalition for the Homeless)

In November 2008 more than 36,600 homeless men, women, and children spent each night in New York City municipal shelters. Thousands more sleep on city streets, in public parks, in the subway system, and in other public spaces. (Data Source: Coalition for the Homeless)

“I wanted to do something that I could really do. I knit and crochet…Unfortunately, there are not very many craft centered volunteer projects around the New York City area.”

Diana has previous experience self-starting local crafts groups. She currently runs the NYC Craft Circle and the Brooklyn Creative Moms Group, both of which she started from home with the help of meetup.com. So when she couldn’t find a volunteer project that fit her interests, the self-described “craftaholic” decided to start her own. She’s named it Scarves for the Homeless. As the title implies, Diana is knitting and crocheting scarves for homeless New Yorkers. She is also accepting donated scarves. She plans to distribute the scarves on Christmas Day.

Diana hopes to get others involved in her project, but for those living outside the New York City area, she is posting updates, pictures, and video clips on her blog. She hopes to set an example of a “true artist”: “I think that being a true artist is more of a mentality, really. It’s about free thinking, and realizing there is more in the world than just yourself. Being an artist is not just someone who paints pretty pictures but someone who leaves a mark by who they are – like Frida Kahlo.”

“Craftaholic” Diana Gonzalez is knitting and crocheting scarves for homeless New Yorkers.

“Craftaholic” Diana Gonzalez is knitting and crocheting scarves for homeless New Yorkers.

Asked for any insights on volunteering, Diana replied, “I think giving back is a personal thing. We all have something we can give back, besides just money. Money is nice, but actions speak louder.”

Diana’s blog can be found here: http://confessionsofacraftaholic.blogspot.com/

You can also look up Diana on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheCraftaholic

Diana’s Etsy shop links: http://www.sweetbuddha.etsy.com and  http://www.sweetbuddhaknits.etsy.com

Coalition for the Homeless: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/

Photo of homeless person copyright Michal Rachlin; Photo of Diana copyright Diana Gonzalez

Know a great volunteer or volunteer organization? Leave me a comment or email me through this link to let me know!