Like a GIRL!

11239662_468053596699353_62169339709315501_o

First aired in June 2014, the Always commercial “Like A Girl” pointed out a phrase that’s normally used in society—a phrase that, whether you realize it or not, has some very negative connotations.

In the commercial, people—men, women, and boys—were asked to do something “like a girl.” When asked to “run like a girl,” each person exaggerated their movements, acting weak and flimsy. When asked to “hit like a girl,” people made a show of hitting clumsily, or sometimes just slapping instead of hitting. When asked to “kick like a girl,” some pretended to drop a ball. One person, in their acting as a girl, added with a falsetto voice, “Oh, but that’ll ruin my hair.” But when the same questions were asked to young girls, they ran, they hit, and they kicked hard and forceful, like anyone would. So what does the phrase “like a girl” imply? That to do something like a girl—to be a girl—is to be weak and clumsy and, in general, to do it badly. The girls in the commercial certainly showed that this is definitely not the case.

Gabriela Moreno, a middle school student at Regents School of Austin, helped illustrate this point: “This guy told me I hit like a girl. So then I hit him like a girl and he never said that again.”

The phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t be negative—but it’s used that way.

Have you ever used the phrase “like a girl” to describe something someone’s done badly? You’ve at least heard it. Many don’t even realize what they’re implying. As school director Monica Moreno pointed out, “I have heard that expression for a long time and haven’t felt that it was something sexist. But then I realized that it’s used as an offense. That shouldn’t be an offense. It’s the same thing as the phrase ‘be a man!’. A woman can be strong and tough, too. Actually, we are. We need to educate people, show them that these phrases are wrong…most people don’t realize what they’re saying, we should show them what it really means.”

When doing something like a girl is an insult, how does that make girls feel? “It makes me feel weak and embarrassed,” high school sophomore Mackenzie Henson said, “It bothers me because there are girls who are stronger than most guys. By saying that you are demoting girls and making them feel inferior.”

So what does being like a girl truly mean?

Being a girl can be tough, especially when using expressions such as “like a girl” negatively is so prevalent in our society. But being like a girl is anything but bad. It’s being awesome, true to yourself, strong, and confident in who you are. Westlake High student Hannah Young adds that “Being a girl means that you can kick butt and wear high heels at the same time. It’s the ability to never let people belittle you or make you feel bad just because you have boobs.”

Just look at all these women in history who have left a mark on the world: Rita Moreno is a legendary singer, dancer, and actress and is the only Latino who has won the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)—like a girl. Mexican Hilda Solis is the former labor secretary and helped labor unions by pushing wage and hour laws and job safety regulations—like a girl. Julia Alvarez, a Dominican poet, essayist, and novelist, wrote pieces that changed the world—like a girl. The list could go on forever!

Gender should not stop you from being strong and powerful. “Being a girl is amazing,” says 15-year-old Rachel C..

“If you want to do something, do it. Being a girl does NOT make you handicapped at ALL. It makes you who you are. If someone says anything like “you ____ like a girl” you should say it’s because you are a girl and believe in yourself,” she adds.

So run, kick, hit as hard as you can. Be yourself, be proud of being a girl. And next time, whenever someone says you or anyone around you does something like a girl, you can go up to them and say, “That’s a nice compliment!” Because it really is.

Girl Talk: Loving Those Who are in Love

JD-art-teenlove-20121229175333558035-300x0Valentine’s Day is far away, yes, but let’s take some time to talk about couples and the growing habit of people’s negativity against couples. Some people will groan, gag, or poke fun when a gooey-eyed girl talks about how her boyfriend gave her flowers, or at other romantic stories like that. Admit it, we all know someone who does this, or maybe we are one of them ourselves — someone who can’t sit through a romantic movie without making a snide comment or who maybe makes comments like how wrapped people get when they’re in a relationship.

The Negative Approach

Though, granted, these cynics (“cynic” is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do”) have their reasons. Maybe they just went through a hard relationship, maybe they got their heart broken, and maybe they’re scared. Maybe they’ve just never gotten to experience true love for themselves. And while these are valid reasons, there should still be more open-mindedness and encouragement of love.When did we stop celebrating love? When did we stop realizing how gorgeous and how sweet it is to see a girl swoon over flowers, an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand, or a man singing with a goofy smile on his face because he got engaged. This may sound cheesy and cliché, but love really is great.

Mackenzie Henson, 16, talks about love, saying, “Every time you think about that person, you smile and always want to hang out with them, you want what’s best for them and it just feels…wonderful.”

Loving those who are in love can give you hope, not jealousy

Even if you’ve never been in love, you should still feel happy for those who are. Love those who are in love, don’t be cynical towards them. Of course, as stated earlier, there are reasons for being cynical. We tend to make fun of others as a sort of self-defense against maybe feeling hurt, feeling lonely, or against showing vulnerability — after all, it is easier to look down on others than to feel down yourself.

As Lydia Strickland, 16, says, “Watching people in love is like sitting outside a pen of puppies. They frolic and play, have fun and love, while you watch on the outside of the iron bars thinking to yourself.”

For those who share the same thoughts as Lydia, keep in mind that watching others in love is not cause for jealousy, for self-pity, or for loneliness. Shouldn’t it be something of hope? Your time will come; one day you’ll stumble upon that kind of happy, glowing love, so there is no need to rush or torture yourself with self-pity.

Tai Goodwin, a speaker, coach, and brilliant catalyst, writes in an article in the Huffington Post,“When you see another person’s win as a loss for you, you pave the way for discouragement and resentment to set in. Instead allow other people’s success to ignite hope for the success coming in your time of harvest.”

Sharing is caring—and loving

Rather than ride the negativity train, share in your friends’ happiness! Realize the importance of love—the visible, engulfing kind of love that leaves people grinning goofily for days, the kind of love that makes others glow.

Hannah Young, 15, says she “realized that it’s actually cute and nice to see people in love.”

“I don’t feel bad for myself anymore. I try not to let myself get jealous either, because I know that love make you happy and everyone deserves that,” says Hannah.

When your friend talks happily about her date for the 100th time, you should listen just as attentively as you did the first time. When you see a couple kiss (though it might be overdone), smile! Because it really is sweet.

“When I first went out with my boyfriend, I wouldn’t stop talking about it with my friends,” says Mariana de Caro, 18.

“I bet it must have gotten annoying, but I needed to tell someone and I really appreciated it when my friends (I’m thinking of one specific friend, but I won’t say her name!) took the time to listen to my ramblings. They were attentive and supporting, and it made me all the happier,” adds Mariana.

You should remember that while you certainly don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy, you should still strive to smile for the happiness of those who are in one. It may not always be easy, but love shouldn’t be underestimated—enjoy it!

Me, Myself, and I

girl on computerWe live in a very social world, constantly surrounded by people. Even when we’re at home and no one’s around we can still communicate through e-mail and texting and social media, so even then we’re not “alone.” We’re always told that when someone is alone they must be sad or have no friends, when in reality the person may simply enjoy being alone. There is a social bias against solitude. People link solitude with people who are lonely, sad, or with antisocial tendencies. Solitude has been, sadly, underestimated. And it’s actually quite healthy!

“I like hanging out with friends just as much as the next person,” says Hannah Young, 15, from Westlake High School. “But I sometimes go away from all that and just spend time by myself. It’s nice and really relaxing.”

Increases Your Focus

Like Hannah said, being alone is therapeutic. Disconnecting from the complex, wired world by being alone gives your brain time to unwind. Constantly being around others can be distracting, so when you’re alone you get a chance to clear your mind, to focus, and to think. And by having a clearer mind and less distractions, you’ll be able to concentrate better on any work to be done. After all, it’s hard to study for that big test when you’re surrounded by a lot of people talking.

Not only can solitude refocus your mind and make you more productive, but it also provides time for you to think deeply. It seems hard to think about anything when the world is constantly buzzing, but when you’re alone and without distractions you can meditate and mull over things. Why do you think many great ideas come during showers or late at night? It’s because you were alone!We’ve all had those “eureka!” moments while going to sleep, and sometimes you can feel like philosopher when taking long showers. It’s all because we let ourselves be alone.

Gabriela de Caro, a sixth grader at Regents School of Austin, says, “I like being on my bed staring at my ceiling at night. I actually get a lot of cool ideas. Like one time I was stuck on a play we had to do at school, and after thinking a bit I figured out which part fit me the best!”

Helps Find Your Own Voice

Solitude gives you an opportunity to find your own voice. Psychology Today writes that “When you’re a part of a group, you’re more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which isn’t always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own.” And in finding your own voice, you discover more about yourself.

Rachel Prichett, 16, says “everyone has a ‘mind palace,’ and being alone helps me explore my own…it’s funny because I learned a lot more about myself than I ever knew before.”

Every person has an inner world full of creativity. Take time to disconnect by turning off the phone, the Internet and the TV. Give yourself some time to just be alone. Whether it happens early in the morning, at night, at lunch, or any other time, you decide. You’ll be surprised by just how rewarding solitude actually is!