It's Time to Upgrade Our Image America!
Advice on Self Presentation
Judith Packard Rasband
©2001 Conselle L.C.
Salt Lake City—Doctors are reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress suffered by many Americans—and it’s no wonder. On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, we actually witnessed, via television cameras in real time, a horrific attack on our country. We continue to experience flashbacks and feel threatened. We grieve for those who lost their lives, for their families, and for the loss of American freedom—like the freedom to work and travel without fear.
On that fateful morning, our world changed. We are entering a new era, and things will never be the same. Facing a threat beyond our control, many people feel powerless, helpless, with less hope for the future. Many have asked, “What will the changes be?” “What can I do?” “How can I help?” “How can one person make a difference?”
We are at a defining moment in the history of our nation, our generations, ourselves—you and me. Life will change—maybe it’s time for a change—yet it can be up to us to define and decide how we will change.
I recommend it is time for many Americans to change the way we look—to clean up, to dress up. The world is looking at us—to us—and we’re not looking at ourselves.
Take a good look America. Too many Americans—in our malls, our magazines, movies, and on TV—appear too casual, too sloppy, slovenly, and sexually blatant. It is an offense to the sensibilities, values, convictions, and morals that make our nation great. It is why Europeans often refer to us as the “Ugly Americans”. It is symbolic of what is so offensive to other cultures—even the Taliban. Could this overly casual American image be a part of why this radical sect sees America as their enemy?
Do not underestimate the important symbolic and actual effect of self presentation on ourselves and on others. The way you look, affects the way you think, they way you feel, the way you act or behave, and then the way others react or respond to you. Outward appearance is often a reflection of inward inclination.
People who are nicely dressed and groomed are better able to feel confident and capable. They are seen by others as credible and better able to exercise a positive influence. People who are sloppy and careless about their appearance or adopt visual symbols associated with laziness and promiscuity promote these same attributes and behaviors in themselves and others.
Look what we’re doing to ourselves America. Casual Friday has eroded into casual everyday, everywhere and descended to the level of sloppy and sexual. Directly related to the downtrend, America has become too casual in our language, our manners, our morals, and in our productivity and reliability. It’s time to upgrade our image—to regain the dignity of our lives.
President George W. Bush, in his Inaugural Address expressed his concern about character and civility in America. In his 2001 Address To The Congress, he stated the need to “set a tone of civility and respect.” He again addressed the increased need for character, reason, and responsibility. Later and directly related, he banned jeans in the White House. He has invited government and business leaders to apply an improved dress standard to themselves and to all who work under them.
In support of the President’s message, and in light of current events with the eyes of the world upon us, it’s time for Americans to upgrade our image. The gulf between what we tolerate and what we embrace in the name of self expression is too great. The cost of freedom to dress sloppily or indecently is too high. Our self image and our public image is severely damaged, our civility down-graded, our productivity diminished. These are costs we can’t afford. It’s time to dress to a higher standard.
The answer to “What can I do?” I can work with Americans to upgrade the image of America. I can teach the value of investing a reasonable amount of time, thought, effort, and money in appearance—there is value because a positive image can advance the achievement of our roles and our goals. I can teach Americans where to find a wide range of attractive, appropriate, and affordable clothes designed for models—role models.
I realize, in calling for an upgrade of the American image, that some will question, “How dare you?” or state, “It’s none of your business.” But that’s exactly what it is—my business, with years of experience, expertise, and enough enthusiasm to make it happen. And I dare, simply because I care. We are all Americans—children of the same God, regardless of the name we pray to or choose not to pray to. I do care, and the image management information and strategies I have to offer can make a positive difference in the way we see ourselves and in the way the world sees America.
Yes, we were all wounded when the towers came crashing down. What can we do now? We, the people, can rise up from the soot and the ash of September 11th and stand together—stand tall as we upgrade our American image and strengthen our hope for the future. Our appearance, our image, is one thing we can control and use as a resource in our personal and professional lives. Looking more like the people we really are—intelligent, hard-working, moral, mannerly, civilized, creative, productive, and reliable—it’s good for us, good for the economy, and good for the country!
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