I never properly thanked Always for their “Run Like A Girl” Super Bowl 49 commercial.
This was the spot where the director asked various adults to “Run Like A Girl.” To which these adults (both female and male) spastically kicked their legs behind them, shook their arms, and made stereotypically silly attempts to run in place. Likewise, when these adults were asked to “Throw like a girl,” these women and men daintily yet pitifully tossed the ball.
The commercial then cut to kids “running like a girl” and “throwing like a girl.” Irrespective of gender, the girls and boys were FIERCE! Always ended the commercial with a powerful message: we learn (and therefore teach) gender stereotypes to each other. Their ad challenges the world to consider “WHEN DID DOING SOMETHING ‘LIKE A GIRL’ BECOME AN INSULT?”
I think about this lesson often.
Not because I am co-raising two amazingly powerful young women, and not only because I am married to an amazingly accomplished (still young) woman. I live my life in honor and memory of my first role model for what makes a strong, won’t-put-up-with-the-world’s-bullshit girl — my younger sister, Ashley.
Ashley was 6 1/2 years younger than me. She was strong, smart, and savvy. And she was my best friend. The person who I would break the world in order to protect. And the person who I lost when a car ran through the intersection — and my car — in 1992 (She was 10).
I honor Ashley by raising my daughters to “Act ladylike.”
So it thrilled me to no end watching the Notorious RBG with my daughters, and how appalled they were that somebody referred to RBG as not exercising “like a girl.” I showed them this Always ad and instructed them that if anyone asks if they “run like a girl” to tell them: Yeah, and I punch like a girl too! (In hindsight, My bruised arms sort of wish I had not taught my 11-year-old to “fight like a girl”)
On this International Women’s Day — which as my 11-year-old points out is every day — keep the momentum going. Keep running and fighting like a girl.