Just being born a girl comes as a disadvantage.
We can’t earn the same amount of compensation for the same amount of work a man does. We can’t be seen as successful unless we’ve been mentored/”helped out” by a male counterpart. We can’t feel safe walking down a street at night. We can’t own the rights to our own reproductive health and bodies. We can’t claim ourselves feminists without “cunt,” “bitch,” “whore,” or “man-hater” being thrown into our faces. We can’t be equal.
On top of the blatant inequalities women face on a day-to-day basis, our sex is now labeled as offensive. It is literally an insult to be called a “girl”.
“You run like a girl.”
“You throw like a girl.”
“You cry like a little girl.”
Always, a feminine-care brand, aired a 60-second commercial in June 2014, challenging the social stigma attached to the well-worn phrase “like a girl.” The video generated millions of views and had a tremendous online reaction, encouraging women to post tweets, statuses and blogs dedicated to their version of the trend.
In the video, girls were asked what it meant to “run like a girl,” “throw like a girl,” and “fight like a girl.” The participants used exaggerated motions to imitate the demeaning phrase, like running with their arms flailing, pathetically throwing a ball and “cat fighting.” The same exact exercise was then conducted on young girls and the response was incredibly eye-opening and quite honestly, refreshing. The girls ran their fastest, threw their hardest and fought with fervor.
The company has opened up a much needed discussion about gender equality and the way in which our society deems girls less than boys. Though this statement may not be spoken directly to girls, the repercussions are apparent in every facet of our lives. When boys are told “you ______ like a girl,” they are essentially being told they aren’t masculine enough, they’re inadequate, they’re not enough. What effect does this have on a boy’s mentality about girls? They’re taught at a very young age the power dynamic of genders deeply ingrained in contemporary society, man > woman.
The campaign brought awareness to the apparent shift in girl’s self-worth, stating “a girl’s confidence plummets during puberty.” According to the company website, 72% of girls feel society limits them especially during puberty, a pivotal moment in every women’s life. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this statistic doesn’t surprise me. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the number floated towards 90%. As we grow up, we’re taught that acting “like a girl” is frowned upon, is wrong in some way.
My absolute favorite part of the entire video, at 0:58 seconds, showcases a little girl’s response to the question “What does it mean to you when I say ‘run like a girl’?” Her response: “It means run fast as you can.” Her confident, quick answer gave me hope. For her, for our future, for the generation of girls who know their worth.
The campaign faced backlash from “meninists,” a word that is understandably underlined with a red, squiggly line right now as I write (deeming it misspelled), due to its’ lack of existence, merit and logic. Every “controversial” topic is going to receive critiques. (I use the term controversial lightly because this shouldn’t be controversial. It’s equality.) Others have criticized the ad as “deceptive,” using an overarching social theme to sell feminine products. But how can you disregard something that promotes female empowerment, a necessity due to the underrepresentation and oppression half the world’s population faces? I think it’s quite simple… You can’t.
Always is using their brand to make an effort in de-stigmatizing what it means to be a girl. I find nothing wrong with this promotional advertisement. Any company that uses its’ following to promote the importance of social issues gets an “A” in my book. If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
It’s time we break down the social stigma attached to being a girl.
It’s time we all consider ourselves feminists, the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.
We are lovers. We are fighters. We are worth it.