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.