Lady business: Like a girl
by Sara French
The first time I saw the Like A Girl commercial was actually on YouTube in 2014. It was one of those ads you were required to watch to get to that new music video you had been waiting all day to listen to in your free time, but I was intrigued enough to watch it past the required 15 seconds.
This ad in particular is not one in the traditional sense of the word. Its main objective is to highlight the self-esteem and treatment of young girls as they are transitioning into womanhood. There are no products to be sold, just underlying social issues to be mindful of in an effort to stop them.
I do not claim to like football and am unapologetically “one of those people” who only passively watches the Super Bowl in hopes that the halftime show is a good one, and it was. Super Bowl commercials have also become a large part of American pop culture and among the commercials aired was a shortened version of the same advertisement the Like A Girl campaign had been airing on YouTube. The commercial aired and the next day I saw mixed reactions, but the fact that it was seen by so many was good.
The commercial itself focuses on the phrase “like a girl” which is normally used in a sports related context, making it relevant to all watching the Super Bowl in addition to the fact that it concerns the entire culture as a whole. A person behind the camera asked many different girls to show what throwing and running “like a girl” looks like. The girls who had not reached the age of puberty gave it their all.
However, older girls displayed the stereotypical motions of not really running or throwing but acting “girly”, or at least how society views that to be.
And then the commercial ends with a young boy saying that “like a girl” is an insult but that he isn’t insulting his sister by using it. This was probably the most telling part of the commercial.
The reason a phrase like this is not really appropriate is the fact that it is using gender as an insult. It’s stating that being anything like a girl is bad, and using it as an insult has a negative effect on everyone involved. It also says that a girl couldn’t possibly achieve any success in whatever medium the insult is being thrown in. It shouldn’t be an insult to be female, and a lot of people don’t understand the societal implications of such an idea until later in life. An insult based on gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. is a red flag that inequality is in effect.
The Like A Girl campaign is starting an effort to dismantle the phrase’s current negative connotation and rebuilding as what it should be, something positive. No one should be ashamed of their gender and this effort to redefine what it really means to be like a girl is necessary to change how our culture currently views it. Keep in mind when you use the phrase “like a girl” in a deprecating way, you’re not only insulting the guy you said threw “like a girl” but all females as well. And yes, that includes your sister.