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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Join the Conversation

  • Kaitlyn

    The world is a better place because you are in it.

    You are gorgeous, because you are you.

  • Jennie

    What a wonderful idea! I’m totally going to use it for my next birthday!
    Here’s my post-it note messages:
    Your beautiful soul is enough, independent of all that surrounds you.
    Rebel! Love your body like its a revolution, because it is!
    Be kind to yourself today.
    Love everything as best you can, beginning with yourself.

    Oh, and why not, “Clothes don’t make the *woman*; character does”?

    This post reminds me of one of my favorite songs: “There were no mirrors in my Nana’s House” sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

  • Stacey

    Hi! I absolutely LOVE this idea. It’s one of those ideas that when you read it, you’re like, “Why didn’t I come up with this idea myself first?” :D I have the best idea for your positive mirror notes. About-Face, a nonprofit in San Francisco focused on teaching young women and girls about resisting harmful media messages, did just this. They called it “Covert Dressing Room Action.” It can be read about here: But you can buy decals from their website for this exact purpose! Buy here: They don’t do any damage to the mirrors, so that’s awesome too. Good luck!

  • Karen

    I wouldn’t change a thing!

  • Emily Sanford

    As a former foreign exchange student to France and the former host sister of a student from Germany, this is very chilling news. Unfortunately, exchange organizations have such a hard time finding families willing to host that I am not surprised if many volunteer area representatives lower their standards when trying to place students. (Similar and worse stories abound when you examine the rates of abuse in foster families.) Of course nothing excuses inaction upon hearing of such serious accusations.

    It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between those organizations that pay the host families and those that don’t. The two organizations I worked with refused to pay host families, despite protests in many member countries, on the grounds that it results in too much of a profit motive and not cultural exchange.

  • Julia

    You are loved – for who you are not what you wear.

  • Julia

    Don’t smile – it would crack your face (ALWAYS works for me!)

  • Krista

    Love this.

    “You don’t need it, the world needs you!”
    “Smile, imperfect is the new perfect!”
    “Treat yo self!”
    “Give yourself a hug!”
    “Confidence looks great on you.”

  • Jess

    Looking good
    You can do anything
    You make the day beautiful

  • Dhwani