Virginia Slims cigarettes used to have an empowering ad campaign directed at women: “You’ve come a long way, baby.” If we ladies had come a little farther in our journey they would have probably left off “baby,” but it was the seventies and that’s as far as we had come: an anorexic cigarette, marketed specifically to our gender, empowering us to “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.” (That was another ad campaign for Enjoli perfume).
Personally, my idea of “coming a long way” has nothing to do with being someone’s baby or frying bacon. Our world perpetually bombards us with messages meant to define the standards by which we measure our worth, success, value, and attractiveness. These cultural norms permeate everything from what we put in our coffee to what we ink on our bodies. A Renaissance woman’s body would be considered chubby by today’s trends, just as the waifs of the eighties are considered a wisp of the athletically acceptable body type of today’s ideal woman.
And where is God in any of it?
Would He measure how far we have come by what we smoke? Or how we smell? Or how we look in a pair of lululemon leggings? Or how capable we are of having a successful career while we fry bacon for our families?
These messages influence so much of our decision-making, so much of our sense of worth. Yet, so often we are unaware of how these subtle communications shape us. Maybe it wouldn’t matter so much if we were only at risk of losing money. But we lose so much more when things of this world become the metric by which we measure our worth, our happiness, and our purpose.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
When I dissect the way the world’s messages have shaped me and when I examine the way God’s messages have saved me, there’s no comparison to which one I know I want to choose going forward. One is based on trends and the other on the timeless unconditional love of God. The Virginia Slims ad campaign is correct, I have come a long way. (Just please, don’t call me baby.)
Copyright 2019 Lara Patangan