Why the #LikeAGirl Campaign Hurts Our Girls

I’m all for positive messages empowering young women, but I just can’t get behind the #likeagirl campaign from Always. It’s an apologetic excuse for why girls can do things just like boys. When the truth is, girls can do incredible things as girls. Not girls trying to “measure up” to boys.

I agree with Always when they aptly point out that saying someone “runs like a girl” or “throws like a girl” is an insult to all girls. I think they’re trying to say, “Do great things, and just be you.” But instead what they’re saying is, “You can do anything a boy can do, and the way to equality is to be just like a boy.”

My issue is that Always chose to counteract this put-down with imagery that is mostly sports-related. They’re saying that girls can play just as well as the boys. But by saying that, they’re also saying to strive for the same level as a boy, as if that’s the ceiling of physical achievement.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.00.25 PM
A tweet from Always, depicting how it’s great to play sports #likeagirl

First, let’s get one thing straight. Always, owned by P&G, has invested a lot of money into marketing girls’ confidence. However, the true motivator here and always (see what I did there?) is to sell more of their product.

Don’t be fooled: Always is targeting girl’s confidence, which so happens to plummet at the time of puberty, as the commercials state. This so happens to be the time that girls begin to have a need for maxi-pads. What this campaign really is then is an early nurture of girls so they can feel like Always “gets them”. Or parents can see these ads and develop a warm fuzzy brand preference when they go to the drug store to buy pads with their daughter for the first time.

So yeah, you can run “like a girl,” throw a baseball “like a girl,” or fight “like a girl.” But why are all of these examples of how girls are put beneath boys focused on physical actions? How about I want to engineer “like a girl”, doctor “like a girl”,  be a mom “like a girl,” teach “like a girl,” or write “like a girl?”

Girls now should have authority to self-direct their lives however they feel most fulfilled, whether they become a stay-at-home mom, president, makeup artist, or professional basketball player.

I’m sick of girls being measured by the male equivalent. The quality of a girl is not measured by how much she can do something like a boy. Boys and girls aren’t even on the same charts. And the boy chart is not, I repeat not, superior to the girls’ or more dominant. They are two completely separate things. Trying to match one to the other does a disservice to the unique talents and gifts of the other.

Again, because I’m fascinated by children’s toys manufacturing, look at the original cozy coupe car. The original car was red and yellow. Then a “girl” one came out that is pink.


So now, essentially by creating a girl car, the original car has become the “boy” car. The baseline is defined by the boy’s toy. This is what #likeagirl is saying. “Normal” = boy. So let’s reclaim Girl.

No, Always. We don’t need to reclaim “like a girl.” It’s always been ours. It’s never been a negative thing. Societal perceptions have layered meaning onto “like a girl” that read as inherently inferior. Doing something “like a girl” isn’t weak. It’s just a state of being. Why do we need to measure up to how a boy would do the same thing?

Maybe I do throw “like a girl.” Or run “like a girl?” The point is that as a girl, I should have the support and guidance from role models that doing anything, physical or mental, “like a girl” is completely and unapologetically perfect.

Girls’ confidence is destroyed when they are measured up and defined on a scale that was made for boys, and measuring yourself with someone else’s measuring stick is a losing battle.


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