“You Are Beautiful:” How three simple words on a sticker help brighten the days of people around the world

If you live in Chicago, chances are you may have seen a small, shiny, rectangular, silver sticker on a light post, a stair railing, a trash can, a bus seat, or the like. But, it's not any old sticker. It’s one with three simple words designed to brighten your day and remind you that everything is going to be okay: You Are Beautiful.

Credit: You-Are-Beautiful.com

Credit: You-Are-Beautiful.com

Matthew Hoffman is the man behind the You Are Beautiful stickers. And, thanks to him, his little stickers with a big message have been shared more than 1 million times around the world.

It all started back in 2002 with 100 You Are Beautiful stickers in Chicago.

Each sticker was passed person to person, left in unsuspecting places with the hope of delighting the recipient. And, the chain of delight continued – and still does to this day more than 12 years and many, many cities and countries later.

As the reach of the stickers has grown, so has their size.

Morse Ave. Metra Underpass, Miles of Murals Program in Rogers Park for 49th Ward, Chicago, IL. (Credit: You-Are-Beautiful.com)

Morse Ave. Metra Underpass, Miles of Murals Program in Rogers Park for 49th Ward, Chicago, IL. (Credit: You-Are-Beautiful.com)

The You Are Beautiful message is now practically shouted from the rooftops, with those same three words now appearing on billboards, on murals, along train tracks, in cultural exhibits, as part of school projects, along Chicago’s majestic Lake Shore Drive, and even on t-shirts, notepads, and tattoos you can buy online.

No matter the size or shape of the medium, the power of the message is simple, strong and contagious.

As we rush about our busy lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress, the anxiety and the craziness, and lose sight of ourselves. To me, the You Are Beautiful stickers are the perfect way to jolt us back to a much needed reality check.

You Are Beautiful. And, you. And, you. And, you. And, yes, together, we are beautiful.

No matter if we’re running errands, taking our kids to class, commuting to work, drinking coffee at a café, busy at work, or walking the dog, we’re all beautiful and we should remember it.

A You Are Beautiful "sticker" featured as part of the Chicago Cultural Center's "Paint Paste Sticker" exhibit last year.

A You Are Beautiful "sticker" featured as part of the Chicago Cultural Center's "Paint Paste Sticker" exhibit last year.

Over the years, I’ve seen the stickers in unexpected places around Chicago.

Last fall, I saw a larger-than-life-sized You Are Beautiful sticker in the entry way to the “Paint Paste Sticker” exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Just the other week, I was surprised to see a You Are Beautiful sticker on the door leading out of my older son’s archery class.

At the time, I was busy thinking about my older son’s practice, whether my younger son would go stir crazy waiting for his older brother to finish up, and even what we’d do for dinner. And, then I saw it.

In a small range filled with bows and arrows, and adults and kids taking aim at targets, there was the familiar small, shiny, rectangular, silver sticker staring me in the face.

It’s funny how one sticker has the power to make me pause, smile and relax. But, it did and it does.

Surprise! A You Are Beautiful Sticker on the Archery Bow Range Chicago door.

Surprise! A You Are Beautiful Sticker on the Archery Bow Range Chicago door.

Even amid the chaos, I was with my family, watching my older son practice a new, much-loved sport. The sticker helped me take in the beauty of the moment and revel in the people that surrounded me.

But, you don't have to just wait to find or see a sticker. You can purchase a pack of 20 You Are Beautiful stickers for $5, sign up for a $6 per month subscription to receive a sticker a month, or even send in a self-addressed stamped enveloped to receive five free stickers in the mail. Each way provides you with the opportunity to do your part to brighten someone's day in unexpected ways.

It’s amazing what three simple words can do – and it’s not surprising that so many other people want to pass the feeling on, too.

No matter if you see it on a sticker or a billboard, I urge you to remember that You Are Beautiful. And, if you happen to purchase, find or receive a sticker of your own, be sure to pass it on.

Have you spotted a You Are Beautiful sticker, art installation or sign? Have you passed a You Are Beautiful sticker on? Do you want to help spread the message in your hometown? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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