Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Significance of You
Fellow generational blogger JenX67 recently wrote a really smart piece about how her many pairs of Nikes have carried her through the various stages of her life. It immediately reminded me of an old Nike ad I’d torn out of a magazine 20 years ago. It was eight pages long—unheard of in the typical rules of brevity in advertising—and began with the phrase, “You were born a daughter.”
It replayed some of the desires and dreams girls all have when we're little.
It evolved through many of the typical insecurities girls go through growing up.
No matter what you went through, the ad touched on it. You were included.
When I first saw it, I was 19 years old; I had no boyfriend, no job, had dropped out of college and had just moved back in with my parents. I didn’t know what the heck to do with my life. My ideas changed daily but were backed by no real motivation. I was living in a new town and didn’t know anyone.
And then finally...
"You became significant to yourself."
Yesterday I did a quick Google search for phrases from the ad. I was amazed to find other blogs mentioning it, other women talking about how they, too, had ripped out and saved that ad. One talked about taping it to her wall where it stayed for years…and then dozens of her readers commented that they had also ripped, taped, and saved.
This was a brilliant campaign, not just because we all remembered the slogan of JUST DO IT, but because we internalized the core message. It successfully appealed to the deep motivational pit in the souls of women across America, from teenager to middle age. Apparently even Oprah herself read it on an episode of her show.
It was written by then-32-year-old copywriter Janet Champ, whose message was that women who take responsibility for everyone else needed to take care of themselves. Later Nike ads written by Champ (how perfect of a name is that?) further championed the power within women while simultaneously challenging outdated beliefs on the capabilities of women. Not only did she inspire the athlete within us, she inspired legions of burgeoning writers, myself included. Don Draper could learn a thing or two from this chick!
Over the years when I'd rediscover the pages in my notebook, I would mentally check off the items in the copy that I’d reached in my life thus far. If I found that I’d reached another one, I think it reassured me that maybe my life wasn’t so off track after all, that I was just running through the normal milestones at my own pace. Many times the ad's message was in the back of my mind when I made a major life decision; when I ended that relationship that felt too confining, when I enrolled in graduate school at 37, when I started putting my writing out there for the world to see.
I think that becoming significant to yourself has different meanings at different ages. Early on it means finding your voice, standing up for yourself. Later it means letting go of outside influences and negative peers, following your dreams. Later still it can mean regaining an independence you might have set aside for years when you chose to devote your energies to family.
In any instance, it's a profound realization to make the commitment to be significant to yourself...for the first time, or once again.
"Because you know it's never too late to have a life. And never to late to change one."