Top Models and Role Models

Last night I was reading a book about the untold stories of Mother Teresa. Ah, sweet Mo T.

No matter what your faith perspective, there is no way to not be completely inspired by the diminutive little nun who changed the world.

I read about her travels and her fellow sisters. Her patients in her “home for the dying” in Calcutta. About the way she matter-of-factly stated her opinion and took advantage of her publicity, all for the sake of pointing the attention back to what she cared about most: Serving God in the poorest of the poor.

And then I came to work.

I work in marketing.

And sometimes, in the day-to-day minutiae of advertising for companies in creative ways, there feels a stark contrast between the teachings of Mother Teresa and the, well, business of advertising.

But then, I read about this ad. It’s an ad for Target. And it gave me a good reminder.

See those sweet babies who are the vision of All-American beauty?

Well the one on the left (Ryan) has Down syndrome. And guess what? Target didn’t even brag about featuring him in their ad. They simply saw him for what he is: a beautiful, photogenic, energetic child. A model of real beauty. Not a publicity stunt — just good casting of a cool kid.

And suddenly – I remembered that the teachings of Mother Teresa are not reserved for the streets of India. No, her teaching was to simply make a difference wherever you are: in your own home, on your own street, in your own city — and when it comes to marketers and business people, in your own powerful platforms.

This Target ad may not change the world — but it is challenging stereotypes. And this act of acceptance, love and appreciation of true beauty is exactly what Mother Teresa did every day, with everyone she met.

And now I’ll get off my Target-purchased soapbox.

In the meantime, my little Top Model is practicing her pose:


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