It’s a seemingly innocent phrase we’ve all heard—or even used—before: “You run like a girl,” “You fight like a girl,” or “You throw like a girl.”
But what does that even mean? In the video below, award-winning filmmaker Lauren Greenfield asked a group of adults to act out those exact commands, and what you see is a whole lot of flailing limbs, bouncing hair and giggling.
If you get an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach after watching it, then that’s the point. Society has ingrained “like a girl” to mean the same as weak, cutesy or clumsy.
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In the next scene, the director asks prepubescent girls to do the same actions, and what you see is athleticism, strength and power. When Greenfield asks a young subject what it means to “run like a girl,” she responds, “It means run as fast as you can.”
The video is part of the #LikeAGirl campaign from Procter & Gamble brand Always that aims to redefine the phrase, similar to Facebook COO and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg’s quest to #BanBossy.
“In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand,” said Greenfield. “When the words ‘like a girl’ are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering. I am proud to partner with Always to shed light on how this simple phrase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine ‘like a girl’ into a positive affirmation.”
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We’ve mentioned before, there are subtle verbal cues that girls often hear from a young age that can sound discouraging. As girls get older, their conception of what it means to be a feminine changes.
“Brand-commissioned research found half of girls report a drop in confidence after their first period. We felt strongly we needed to do something about it,” said Procter’s Amanda Hill.
It seriously just takes a little bit of awareness and education to change the status quo. Case in point: When Greenfield asks the adult subjects to try again, their movements remove the gendered stigma of the phrase. As one woman tells the camera, “I am a girl, and that is not something that I should be ashamed of.”
So what does “like a girl” mean to you? You can use the hastag #LikeAGirl to participate in the conversation.
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