First of all, I just have to say how blown away I am by this video and how close I was to tears while watching it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve already watched this over and over again and each time it touches a chord deep within me.
The ad, commissioned by Always and directed by Sundance award winning director Lauren Greenfield, begins by asking girls of various ages (and a couple of boys) to demonstrate what it means to run like a girl, throw like a girl and fight like a girl. The results are an eye-opener. Those in an older age bracket would pretend to throw a ball feebly, fight ‘cat-like’ or run feebly and in a cartoon-like manner with arms flailing everywhere.
But then the younger girls come on. And in respond to the same question, they run. They run with confidence and form, they’re throwing, karate kicking and punching with power and strength behind every move.
The phrase ‘like a girl’ has been used all too often to imply someone is weak or inept or a failure, an insult which reinforces negative stereotypes about being a girl. It’s a powerful message that Always and Greenfield are trying to get across and judging by how viral the video has gone, it’s a message that’s getting through to everyone.
This ad comes on the latest wave of female empowerment campaigns, including the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, the Lean In movement started by Sheryl Sandberg, the Covergirl ‘Girls Can’ movement and Pantene’s ‘Not Sorry’ campaign. It also comes on the back of criticism aimed at LEGO for the gender stereotypes in its marketing for kids. And sure the message is being pushed now by a global corporation (Proctor & Gamble) but, hey, I’m all for big companies pushing positive messages of change out to a wider audience rather than using the same old stereotypical sex-sells campaigns. Sorry I’m not sorry? Actually, not sorry that I’m not sorry.
In fact, when I watch this video now, I’m reminded of a Toys R Us ad that I really, really loved as a child. The ad features a bunch of kids, each one performing an action of some sort with a toy while singing, ‘I don’t want to grow up. I wanna be a Toys R Us kid.’ But the main kid that stood out for me was a little girl dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, swinging a baseball bat with gusto and hitting a ball out of the park (or at least out of the camera’s field of view) before resting the bat on her shoulder and singing of how she wants to be a Toys R Us kid. And when I was a little kid, I wanted to be that girl.