Comparing resolutions from 1892 and 1982: How times have changed!

By January 22, 2008 culture No Comments

In my last post, I wrote about a desire to have resolutions with substance, and I referred to the 70-some resolutions by Jonathan Edwards. I’ve continued to ponder this, and in so doing I remembered another commentary about making weighty, meaningful resolutions, about which I mentioned in another post. Here’s an excerpt from that post:


As a professional in the field of marketing communications, I am both fascinated and appalled by the messages sent about that shape our mindsets. I have slowly chewed on Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel by Jean Kilbourne. Kilbourne discusses the impact of various campaigns upon women and children especially. The section focusing on how women feel about themselves and their appearance had this quote from Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls:

When girls of the nineteenth century thought about ways to improve themselves, they almost always focused on their internal character and how it was reflected in outward behavior. In 1892, the personal agenda of an adolescent diarist read: “Resolved, not to talk about myself or feelings. To think before speaking. To work seriously. . . . To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.”

A century later, in the 1990s, American girls think very differently. In a New Year’s resolution written in 1982, a girl wrote: “I will try to make myself better in every way I possibly can with the help of my budget and baby-sitting money. I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.”


How sad it is that so few of our resolutions for this century are focused on developing character and integrity! How sad it is that so few of my own are such.

More to chew on as you develop your resolutions!

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