Resurrecting Our Self Esteem

For everyone in Christendom, today is Good Friday. And it seems like an oxymoron to me. I mean, what’s so “Good” about being crucified?? At least the Europeans call it “Holy Friday.” But as the unrelenting optimist I seem to be, I suppose crucifixion is “good” because you can’t have a resurrection without it. And the resurrection is where I take solace in the story of Easter.

From a metaphorical perspective, the Easter story illustrates that the pain and suffering of mankind is very real – and that it can be overcome by transcending the illusions of the world. And this perspective can lead to tremendous self-empowerment – particularly when dealing with self-esteem, body-image and weight issues.

Casting Notice

Case and point: A friend of mine recently forwarded me an e-mail in which a pharmaceutical weight-loss drug company was casting overweight individuals for their print advertising campaign. The note accompanying the forwarded e-mail said, “Carmela, Wow – somehow the below offends me.”

Well of course this casting call is offensive – it’s based on a false premise!  Weight issues notwithstanding, this drug company is looking for individuals that meet particular requirements to be used in printed advertising materials for a product that they have not even used. And guess what – it happens all the time!

Do I use “Stain….” spot remover?? No, but I was paid handsomely to be in a commercial for that product. Do I shop at “Shoe…?” No, and they didn’t even ask when they cast me. It’s called marketing.

Now marketing in and of itself is not a bad thing. Marketing is simply a vehicle through which vendors communicate to the world that they have a product or service that will meet a customer’s need. The problem is that oftentimes marketing is used to create an artificial need to sell a product or service. Generally, this is accomplished by whispering messages to erode our sense of self and self-esteem. And more often than not, this artificial need is created in artificial ways.

That beautiful fitness model, for example, the one on the packaging – it’s a sure bet that she doesn’t use the product – be it a piece of home workout equipment, a supplement, or a “magic pill.” She simply got paid to have her (Photoshopped) picture taken with the product. She was cast because she already looked a certain way – and the advertisers thought that her looks would create an emotional response in you that would compel you to purchase the product.

So what does this mean in practical terms for our self-esteem? It means that many of our ideas and beliefs – particularly those ideas and beliefs about our bodies and our self-worth – are based on an illusion! And when we buy into this illusion, we experience crucifixion. The extreme pain and death of our self-worth is not metaphorical – it is very, very real. But when we can recognize the marketing and media madness games for what they truly are – simply a way to generate revenue  – we can disengage from the craziness of the world and reclaim our sense of self. And when we overcome the illusion, we experience the miracle of the resurrection.