What image does ‘run like a girl’ conjure up in your head? Go on you can be honest now. For me I picture my adolescent self all awkward and self-conscious. Not quite sure where to put my arms so I can hide my body. Also, the throw-away playground insults shouted at boys ‘You run like a girl’! Then I have to dig a little deeper to think about all the awesome female runners there are, which is crazy as there are so many!
Always (yes the ladies hygiene brand!) have a thought-provoking advert which asks a group of teens to ‘run like a girl’, ‘fight like a girl’ ‘throw like a girl’ and all completed the actions pathetically. Yes it’s an advert but it works for me because it resonates. For the first time it’s really made me think about being called a girl as an insult. I’ve heard it so many times and never questioned it or felt offended. I just accepted it as a perfectly normal thing to say and worked hard at being more like a boy!
During 2013/14 I travelled the world, across 22 countries for a year on my own and I was asked many times ‘do you feel safe as a girl?’, ‘how do you cope as a girl?’ Hell yeah! I dived with sharks like a girl, abseiled down waterfalls like a girl, did a canyon swing like a girl, mountain-biked down Bolivia’s Death Road like a girl and would do it all again without a second thought that being born a girl should hold me back! Yet still adding ‘like a girl’ to a statement about another human feels like an insult.
I met so many girls on the road and we traded tales of our adventures. I’m pretty sure being female never held any of us back but it’s still a prominent question. Like we’re not strong enough, brave enough or confident enough. It’s kind of funny as I’ve always brushed off the questions that end with ‘like a girl’. In fact if I’m really honest, perhaps I like them a little as it always makes me feel like I’ve achieved even more, maybe even more than a boy could do *gasp*.
Growing up with only brothers and a predominantly male group of friends I’ve always seen myself as a bit of a boy, not a strong girl. Oh yeah that’s probably because strong girls get called ‘tomboys’! A child on a mission and fiercely competitive it was a common goal to prove myself to boys. I knocked them down in judo, swam faster and arm wrestled regularly (breaking my hand in the process!). Yet, still ‘run like a girl’ makes me think of a knock kneed feeble girl. What the hell is that all about?
I’ve listened with interest to the feminism debate which has become so topical and admire Emma Watson and her recent words hugely. But I’ve always questioned whether it really is a pressing issue in the western world. I felt it was equally important to empower boys. That’s why the #LikeAGirl advert was such a lightbulb moment for me. I don’t notice the sexism around me because it’s so ingrained into society it appears normal.
So there we have it, finally a tampon (sorry, I mean feminine hygiene products) advert has arrived that actually makes me want to celebrate all the other inspirational women around me!