Is anyone else as excited about the like a girl campaign as I am? If you are too busy to watch the three minute video, let me break it down for you: the video begins by asking a few people to show the camera how to do a few things “like a girl” such as run, fight, and throw a ball. They then contrast this with showing how a young girl (10 or under) answers the same question. Somewhere between childhood and adolescence “like a girl” has become an insult. The idea behind the campaign, spearheaded by Always, is to change the meaning of “like a girl” from an insult, to an empowering phrase. They end the video by asking, “why can’t ‘run like a girl’ also mean ‘win the race’?” Though this is partially a marketing strategy, I love the message.
I will admit that I am very much a guilty party in using “like a girl” as an insult, and it makes me cringe to think that as a female, I have been part of the problem. For a long time I have associated “like a girl” or “feminism” with negativity. I always pictured feminists as women who do not shave their armpits and burn their bras in protest of the man. While there is nothing wrong with doing that, I felt that was the only image of feminism, and therefore I must not be a feminist. I was completely wrong. Of course I am a feminist. I believe in a woman’s right to be equal to a man. That is the crux of being feminist. When someone tells me I am incapable of completing something because I am a woman, it pisses me off. My gender has nothing to do with my ability to complete a task. That makes me a feminist. That makes me proud to do things like a girl.
I grew up in a family that did not instill gender perimeters on us. My Mom is a strong woman with a booming voice who commands attention. She worked her way up in a male dominated industry with no apologies or reservations. She taught me to stand up for myself. My Father supported every ounce of our strength. My brother is five years older than me and has no concept of my age or gender. If he wanted to play a sport, I had to play it with him. When he took up mountain bike racing, I had to bike with him, because he was babysitting me and that was no excuse not to be out practicing. I am grateful to have been brought up in a family where gender roles are not relevant. Yet, I still feel as though I am fighting to swim upstream as a female. I cannot imagine how much of a battle it is for someone who is told day in and day out that gender roles are relevant.
My upbringing has also taught me to be humble in my accomplishments, but today I would like to share with you a few things that I have accomplished like a girl (keep in mind this is a fitness page, so these will mostly be fitness related):
- Finished my first half marathon at an 8:38 pace, placing me 56th overall, sixth female, and first out of sixteen in my age group.
- Set a 5K running PR of an 8:13 pace.
- Deadlift 105lbs for four sets of 12.
- Chest press 130lbs for three repetitions.
- Played on an all boys soccer team for the first three years I played soccer, one season of which we were undefeated.
- Jumped out of an airplane, aka skydiving.
- Leg Press 405lbs, almost three times my body weight, for 3 sets of 6.
Have other women also accomplished, or surpassed, such goals? Absolutely, which just goes to show that doing something like a girl is not a bad thing – it is empowering.