Overcoming stigma “like a girl”

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By Bekah Denny

Illustration by Rachel Carroll, President of National Arts Honors Society
Illustration by Rachel Carroll, President of National Arts Honors Society

Girls do run with their legs flipped up, their hands flapping in the wind, and throw with barely enough force to land past their feet. Totally like a girl, right? Wrong. There is a stigma around what it means to be “like a girl.” This stigma needs to vanish.

Like a girl was an Always campaign that brought to light the misrepresentation on what it means to be “like a girl.” In the commercial, teenage girls and boys were asked what it meant to either run, throw, or fight “like a girl.” They posed the same questions to adolescent girls and the results were very different.

The P&G company set the commercial to meet society’s expectations. They found teenage boys and girls that ran, threw, and fought in a way that fit the social norm. The young girls, on the other hand, defied stereotypes. They ran for their lives, threw like they meant to win, and fought like they were Muhammad Ali.

To break the social norm, girls are faced with defying the unthinkable, they are told that they will fail. Doing things differently doesn’t make them weak, it makes girls clever. When girls are told that punching to their advantage and running to the line with shorter strides is “like a girl,” girls should stand up and scream that “yes, they are a girl.”

People think that being “like a girl” is something to be ashamed of when there is no factual evidence to prove it. It’s not the size of the girl in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the girl. Gender shouldn’t be the determining factor in the way people are thought of.   

While it’s important that we raise up our girls to believe they are strong and capable, it’s vital to acknowledge that they are different but not inferior. It’s necessary to remember that all people are unique with vastly separate talents and abilities. Boys need to be able to cry and feel emotions, equally girls need to be able to be confident in their strength.  

Like a girl means strong, able, and equal. At the forefront of society’s changes, gender associations are screaming to be recognised.  It’s time to change the connotation of what being a girl really means.