Post-Its in lieu of presents

A very dear friend of mine turned twenty-five this week. He’s having a party this weekend, but he’s requested no presents. And no donations in lieu of presents, either. Instead, he’s asked that his friends, before coming to the party, spend a little of their time this weekend doing good things for other people.

The idea, he told us all,

… is that during the course of that day, for however long as you want, to go somewhere in the city or walk around on your own or in a group looking for small unplanned, unexpected opportunities to make someone else a little happier: serving up some coffee for people who are cold on the street, helping someone find their way around, cleaning up a neighborhood park, or showing up at a shelter with supplies.  There’s so much suffering and thus so much opportunity to do good that we become indifferent to in our busy lives, especially in a crazy place like New York!

Makes you feel pretty shallow about asking for a pony for your last birthday, doesn’t it?

At the end of the day, we’ll all meet up and talk about what we did, and my wonderful friend will get the gift of hearing about how he mobilized a few dozen people go spend some of their weekends making the world a better place. It reminds me a little bit of the Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy.

I spent some time thinking about what kind of service I want to do, and I’ve decided – to the shock of absolutely no one – to do service with strong feminist slant.

On Saturday morning, I’m doing my own little one-day Operation Beautiful:  I’m grabbing a few friends, a pack of Post-Its and some markers, and we’re going to stick body-positive messages on fitting room mirrors in stores around the city.

A few years ago, I was in a shop trying on clothes and as I looked in the mirror to see how the first item fit, I noticed that on the wall next to the mirror, someone had scrawled, “You’re beautiful, with or without new clothes.” The message made my day (though I wish that it hadn’t been graffiti, because some underpaid GAP employee probably had to scrub it off).

So, this Saturday, I’m going to try to make other people’s days by posting this and similar messages on fitting room mirrors.

And this is where you come in. I have a few ideas for what I want to write on those Post-Its, things like “Clothes don’t make the man; character does,” and “Buy it if you want it, but you’re perfect just the way you are,” but I need some more.

So please put your suggestions in the comments section, and that way, you can help me and my friends and in our day of service. And of course, nothing would make me happier than if you and your friends decided to Post-It bomb your own local shops with similar messages. Especially if you send me photos of your efforts.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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