I don’t know how you stuck it out that long. In addition to a two years of freelancing to help me transition out of advertising and into another line of work, I did an 8-year stretch full-time, from right out of college through three agencies in two towns, NYC and then Chicago (which, ironically, I moved back to for two men: the guy I thought I was going to marry, and the GCD I worshipped. At least the boyfriend lasted 11 months; the GCD bailed in three).
To be fair, I have major issues with advertising outside of what I immediately perceived, and correctly, to be the gender games that came with the territory; the proportion of effort to return that went into making even *bad* ads never sat well with me. It enabled my workaholism to an alarming degree, triggering illness that’s taken me years to climb out of.
However, my deepest shame was not about how I contributed to the destruction of the earth or even the generalized oppression machinery I was a part of, but about how when the going got tough, the ease with which I could throw a fellow lady under the bus. I just realized that a lot of my behavior since—owning my age out loud, working to empower girls and young women—has been part of my living amends for the crimes I participated in.
Thank you for saying this out loud. (And for the record, I no longer believe all advertising or all marketing is bad; I am just far more respectful of the ways in which it, like anything, can be manipulated toward evil ends.)