What does “like a girl” mean to you?
We’ve all thrown around “like a girl” as an insult, but it’s time to reverse that phrase and take it as a compliment. Social media is a-buzz with a new campaign: a video from Lauren Greenfeild (director of Queen of Versailles) that asks a group of people what it means to do something “like a girl.” Their responses show the very shocking stereotypes we assume of females and how this effects a girl’s self-confidence.
After asking a string of older people how it looks to “run like a girl” they are shown running, arms flailing, in a fit of squeals and giggles. And when a male is asked to fight like a girl we witness a full-grown man waving his arms in front of his face, saying “no stop.”
When did this become the stereotype of a girl? With role models such as Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays in The Hunger Games a strong contender and not just a girl waiting to be saved, how are we still assuming a girl can’t put up a fair fight?
It’s funny though, when young girls were asked exactly the same question, we can see the true meaning of “like a girl.” Without the image of the helpless girl stereotype stained in the back of their mind, girls aged five to 13 respond with strong kicks, punches, faster running with stern looks on their face.
So what happens during a female’s adolescence to make her think throwing like a girl means flinging the ball with no effort at all?
A new survey by Always found that hitting puberty and getting their first period are the lowest moments in terms of confidence for a girl, and harmful words or phrases can add to that drop in self-esteem. This is where we see the shift from “like a girl” being an empowering phrase to a derogatory message.
Using this label can be “a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl’s self-confidence,” said the Always YouTube statement.
This video comes at a time where woman empowerment is a subject on everyone’s lips, with many advertisers and brands promoting self-esteem within females around the world. Pantene, Nike and United Nations Women are a few who have joined Dove in boosting women’s worth.
A current Verizon commercial exposes the sad statistic by the National Science Foundation. 66 per cent of 4th grade girls in the US saying they like science and maths, but only 18 per cent of all college engineering majors are female. Of course many people have provided explanations for this discrepancy, but this video shows the importance of social cues, similar to “like a girl”, that can push girls away from science, math and all things deemed non-girly.
In the video we follow one girl’s childhood, in which she wanders, lets her curiosity take her through nature, looking at plants and animals, creates an astronomy project and helps build a rocket with her brother. But all the way through we hear her mother’s voice in the distance – her daughter’s actions being met with the common refrains a parent would say to their curious child.
“Who’s my pretty girl?”, “Don’t get your dress dirty!”, “You don’t want to mess with that,” and “Be careful with that. Why don’t you hand that to your brother?”
Although these statements are subtle and don’t seem to do much damage, this ad suggests that they can ultimately discourage a young girl pursuing a career in a traditionally male-dominated trade. The video ends with a thought-provoking question: “Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant, too?”
These collections of campaigns, ads and videos are what will change the way women and the rest of the world see the females of the world. If young girls believe that running like a girl means running like themselves, why shouldn’t the rest of the world?
As stated by one of the ad’s participants: “Why can’t run like a girl also mean win the race?” – Alana Scott
Check out The Newsroom’s latest rundown of what’s trending on social media here.
Screenshot from Always #LikeAGirl YouTube video.