Kindness so often benefits the giver equally or more than the receiver. Last week’s #SparkleFriday event provided a poignant illustration for me.
Like other participants, the mission to engage in an act of kindness to share publicly on Black Friday highlighted thoughtfulness in my daily life. It also illuminated new opportunities and made me wonder what extra steps I could take in honor of our sparkly celebration.
My sister and her family were visiting that week, and I had this brilliant idea to engage my four nieces in a positive body image crusade. “Let’s plaster the city with positive body image affirmations!” Isn’t that every adolescent’s idea of a dream vacation?
On the day I’d planned for us to paint the town empowered, I left the paper messages behind. So after they left for the airport, I took the messages around myself, figuring I’d post a few on public restroom mirrors. Then a funny thing happened; I didn’t want to stop.
My heart pounded and swelled as I placed messages of body-love and self-acceptance on mirrors, near gym scales and on store shelves housing risky diet products. In every instance, my thoughts spun back to the days when I could have used such messages; in fact, they could have helped save my life.
I’m so grateful to be fully past a serious eating disorder and decades of body-hate, to see diet pills, scales and weight loss products without a smidgen of desire. To have time, energy and passion for pursuits that fill and enlarge my heart, rather than minimize and hurt me. To be able to give and connect with others. To be healthy, happy and alive. On the “alive” side of the paper messages.
As I placed one near diet shakes at a local grocery store, I spotted a woman slowly perusing weight loss pills nearby. I recall that trance-like state well—feeling torn, but desperate, as though the whole world is watching/judging/loathing you, when in fact, the judger/punisher is you. Our eyes met for a millisecond before hers darted away. Then she turned and shuffled away.
I sent her some loving thoughts, placed a message near the pills then headed to the restroom to post a few more. As I walked toward the store exit, I saw the woman again. She’d returned to the diet pill section and stood staring at what appeared to be my note. I considered tactfully approaching her, when she took a phone call and wondered off. I have no way of knowing if the message influenced her, but the possibility moved me to tears.
It breaks my heart that so many fall victim to the mega-machine known as the dieting and weight loss industry. While an estimated 3% currently develop full-fledged eating disorders, countless more develop disordered eating thoughts and behaviors that keep them from living full and vibrant lives. The epidemic runs so deep, it’s considered “normal” to follow restrictive diets, weigh our selves compulsively and tabulate calories (or fill-in-the-blank) as though they mean more than we do. The energy and money we as a culture invest into risky, ineffective body-altering tactics could end world hunger numerous times over. But it’s difficult to change when the negative messaging is so darn strong.
Back at home, I received responses to my mini affirmation crusade through Facebook and Instagram. “Can I do this, too?” one woman asked. “I need those!” said another. My friend KM Huber suggested we carry this on as a movement. It’s so simple, she pointed out—something anyone can do. (Did I mention that she’s brilliant?)
I imagined troops of women taking over the world with armloads of paper, scissors and tape! Um…
WAIT! I thought. Sticky notes!
I’m so pleased to announce the launch of #YouSparkle, a sticky note movement with an empowering purpose!
I’ve designed #YouSparkle sticky notepads, each of which provides 50 opportunities to empower others with a simple, uplifting message. You can add your own words or leave them as-is. Post them in public places, in your home or office or in a loved one’s lunch box, pocket, dresser drawer or Christmas stocking. Or simply keep them around as reminders that you’re beautiful precisely as you are.
More notes and designs will follow, but I think we’re off to a pretty spiffy start! I’ve included my website address on the notes so that finders can learn more and gain related resources, if desired. The hashtag is meant to inspire conversation.
To join me in spreading body-love this holiday season or any time, visit the new store section of my website to place an order. Prices range from $4 to $13 for 50 to 150 notes, and 100% of the proceeds support my mission to help women embrace their bodies, selves and sexuality and do away with all-too-common shame.
You can also support #YouSparkle by sharing your use of the notes throughout social media, including the hashtag, and interacting with and supporting others who post.
As I’m sure you’ve learned many times, words and messages, whether negative or positive, can change lives. I really believe that simple empowering gestures like this one can go a long way. Take it from the lady running around grocery stores with Scotch tape! Better yet, give it tape-free a try. If you do, I’d love to hear about it. ♥