Since when did being a girl become an insult?
It’s the question at the center of a new ad campaign by Always — yes, the maker of maxi pads — to empower women and think differently about the way we view ourselves.
Here’s the ad.
Then meet the director.
I’ve watched it several times — tearing up #LikeAGirl every time.
See, I can totally relate. I grew up playing basketball with my guy friends, never aware that these was a gender difference. I could shoot three-pointers, I could nail hook shots, and I could box out like the best of them.
But as I got older, I began to realize that while I may not have seen gender, others did.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d be sitting in the lineup at a surf break and guys would treat me, you know, like a girl. As I’d paddle for a wave, guys who didn’t know me would encourage me, saying, “Paddle harder! You can do it!” as if I had just paddled out for the first time in my life. Or they would take one look at me and think, “Oh, she’s just a girl,” and try to out-paddle me for a wave.
It’s more than annoying, it’s insulting — and not just to me, either.
We live in a world where doing anything #LikeAGirl is bad. It means you’re weak or frivolous or pathetic. (It’s like when people say, “Man up,” like being a man means you’re tough. What would, “Woman up,” mean then…?)
The thing is, I can only do things #LikeAGirl. I run like a girl, I eat like a girl, I cook like a girl, I hike like a girl. Because I am a girl. When did that become a bad thing?
In the ad, adolescent girls, older women, boys and men were asked to demonstrate what it meant to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl.” And it was heartbreaking to watch women my age respond with negative stereotypes.
But the powerful moment came when girls ages 10 and under answered the same question: they ran as fast as they could, they hit as hard as they could, they didn’t think any differently about the “like a girl” part at all.
“A lot of the girls pre-puberty were completely uninhibited by their identity as a girl,” said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video.
So where did we go astray?
It’s so incredibly sad to me that many of us have had our confidence and self-worth eroded at such a young age — and how that lack of self-esteem has tortured us our entire lives. We might not pursue our dreams or start to second-guess our abilities. We might not have tried as hard, we might have expected to fail, we might have felt like our potential was limited.
The worse part is that we might have started to believe our value comes in gender stereotypes, that we have to be, act and look a certain way in order to be valued as a girl or woman — as a human.
It’s so destructive and pointless. Why create artificial barriers to stop people from being their best selves? What would the world gain by that?
Watch the video. Think about it. Then do something — #LikeAGirl.