L'Oreal is famous for their original 1967 slogan "Because I'm worth it" which was replaced in the 2000's with "because you're worth it." While the sentiment may have started out with good intentions, it causes me no shortage of dismay to realize just how often women and men, too, especially nowadays, have come to replace a real, solid, strong sense of self-worth with the more vapid, shallow versions of money, fame, hair shine, makeup and all the other unknown trappings of materialism.
Feeling that you are a worthy person, valuable because you exist, because you are unique, because there is no one like you in the world; that you deserve respect, health, peace, friendship, love, loyalty, is NOT the same thing as thinking you are entitled to wealth beyond measure or to lord power over others.
I can't explain the depth of sadness I feel when I listen to the lyrics of conceit and posturing on the radio these days. It's as if the message of self-esteem has been passed around to far too many first graders in whispered circles and has come back around to the last kid who shouts it out, and of course, it isn't the same message at all that began the circle off. It's changed, and not for the better.
"Tell them who the 'F' I be," is one that springs to mind, a lyric so full of passive aggressive, spoiled, entitled anger it's a wonder this person has any real friends at all. What a far cry from "I am woman, hear me roar," or even, "I can never let you go, and you, and you, you're gonna love me." The difference has something to do with the immaturity of the vibe, as though the higher ordered thinking required to get out of the shampoo bottle or the car dealership and into the process of emotional growth has been stunted; as though, collectively, we'd become a bunch of emotionally underdeveloped drop outs, opting for the beer on the roof instead of the homework session we knew we needed to help us learn.
Call me a worrier, but I really do worry that the messages our media gives to our young people inspires them not to feel wonderful about themselves, for real, but to feel conceited, arrogant and entitled, and not to even really perceive the difference. It is up to us to make these distinctions for them, to help them understand that feeling good about yourself is more than a new pair of jeans or an Xbox 360; it has to do with relationships with others, trying new things, believing in your abilities and practicing them even more, being an important and helpful part of your family and your community, mattering to your pets, your siblings, your grandparents, your teachers and your friends. You're worth way, way more than shiny hair, in fact, you're worth so much that you owe it to yourself to begin figuring out how to live.
Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to Empowher.
Edited by Jody Smith