“When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”
It was Super Bowl Sunday yesterday. Like most other families in this country, we watched for both the game and the highly touted commercials. By the time the game was over, I was surprised both by the ending of the game itself and by the winner of the commercial battle. Who could have predicted that the best commercial of the night would come from a feminine product company?
The company Always aired a commercial asking various individuals past adolescence what it looks like to “run like a girl”, “throw like a girl” and “hit like a girl”. The examples are cartoon-like and exaggerated in their lack of coordination and grace. Basically, it’s what I automatically think of when I hear the phrase “throw like a girl”. I don’t think of this as good or bad – it’s just programmed into my head to have a certain visual when I hear “like a girl”.
The questions are then posed to young girls. They are also asked to show what it looks like to run, throw and hit “like a girl”. What happens next is pure magic. (You can also see an extended version here).
Their faces change. Their eyes change. The become focused, determined, excited. They become STRONG before they even try to run or throw, because they KNOW they are strong. They KNOW this. Women, do you remember what it was like to know that you were strong? That you were beautiful? That you could do anything? When does this change? Always asks us the perfect question – when did doing something like a girl become an insult? When do we lose that determined look in our eyes? When do we start apologizing for being a girl?
Our 21 month old daughter woke up from her nap halfway through the game, so we kept it on in the background as she played with crayons, cars, lego’s, markers and her beloved poker chips. She was happy to ignore the game until Katy Perry came roaring in on that huge golden tiger during halftime. Our daughter danced around the living room during the entire performance (I may have joined in a little too). Her arms were flailing, her head was bopping in different directions, her feet didn’t always land in the right spot, but she never stopped. She is filled with pure joy when she hears music, and she just has found a way to physically manifest that joy.
When the Always commercial came on, it hit me to my core. Some day, my beautiful, wonderful, talented, free-spirited daughter might be told “you run like a girl”. “You throw like a girl”. “You DANCE like a girl”. Some day she might not dance to Katy Perry around our living room. Some day she might hold her joy in instead of making it known, simply because she doesn’t want to be perceived as “a girl”.
I love to workout for many reasons. It keeps me healthy, it is a huge stress reliever and it helps me fit into my jeans. Do you know the main reason I workout? To feel strong. To BE strong. It feeds into my confidence in a way other things don’t. It makes me stand taller and look people in the eye. It makes me proud to be a girl – proud to be a woman. I want my daughter to see that, while I look silly trying to do handstands, I do it anyway. It’s fun, it’s joyful and it makes me feel strong. Yes, I run like a girl. Yes, I throw like a girl. I sit like a girl. I sing like a girl. I do sit-ups like a girl. I squat, deadlift and sprint like a girl. I also cheer, hug, laugh, cry, talk and love like a girl. I AM a girl.
Don’t ever believe being a girl is a bad thing. It is a powerful and amazing thing. Don’t ever believe being a boy is a bad thing, either. It also is a powerful and amazing thing. We must believe these things, both for ourselves and the next generation. First, watch this video for yourself. Watch it for that little boy or girl you were. Then, watch it for your kids, or your grandkids, or your friends’ kids, or the kids you teach. Both girls and boys should know and believe that they are awesome as they are. Is this commercial going to change our world? Maybe not, but if it can change one person – just one of us – it’s done a good thing. Being told you throw like a girl shouldn’t be used as an insult to either girls OR boys. If we slowly start removing this from our vocabulary, we might help kids of all genders feel more comfortable in their own skin, and believe more in themselves. When folks believe more in themselves and their own capabilities, they believe more in others. When they believe in others and have joy, they allow others to do their best and live their own joy. That, my friends, is where the magic happens.