By Gina Otto
The advertising industry is acutely astute at telling us what we should want, feel and need – and making a lot of money in the process. They are even getting progressively more creative in finding new nooks and crannies to “insert ad here.” How do we self-identify when we don’t have time to think and feel for ourselves?
In the 1970’s people were exposed to roughly 500 ads per day. In recent years, the average person can be bombarded by as many as 5,000—each day. The truth is, these major advertising firms are bullying their way into our subconscious with the hope of doing our thinking for us.
Loving yourself, loving who you are, having good self-esteem—these are concepts we are told to procure long before we can even fully grasp what they mean. Part of this, I believe, is the cornerstone of the problem. We can be told that we should love ourselves, and we may even openly try it, but we can’t truly love ourselves if we are constantly judging others. A “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality invites comparisons, and as my mother used to say, “When you keep count, you lose.
Therefore, the crux of the “self-esteem” movement is actually not self-esteem. It is self-respect. Esteem by definition means holding something in high regard. In order to do that, typically, we must have the capacity to compare it to something else, to establish a control variable, then note what makes it different. When we respect something, we value it for what it is—a quality or attribute worthy of admiration.
I issue a challenge for all of us: respect yourself. Do not give into what others would have you believe is reality. Do away with the stories that are told to you, and embrace your own. Only then can you truly love yourself and be the person you came here to be.
2011 MA Conference for Women speaker Gina Otto is the award-winning author of the children’s book “Cassandra’s Angel,” international speaker, producer, social entrepreneur and children’s advocate. Her ongoing mission is to engage, educate and empower children to live their greatest lives and achieve their full potential.