I run like a girl

By Lisa Sugarman

I’ve always loved anything empowering. I mean, who doesn’t? Empowering things are just naturally infectious. Anything that boosts the spirit or raises awareness or inspires just lights me up. And I’ll be honest, the inspiring things I love the most are the ones that send a positive message to kids, especially young girls.

Now maybe I’m biased, A) because I’m a girl, B) because I have two girls, and C) because I think it’s fair to say that girls have historically been stigmatized to be, well, too girly. (Ok, I’m biased. Whatever.)

So when one of my best friends, Annie, sent me a profoundly impactful viral video she found on social media about the power of being a girl, I knew, without hesitation, what this week’s column had to be about. It struck me within the first 30 seconds of watching this public service ad created by Procter & Gamble, that this was something that everyone needed to see. Or at least know about.

And by the way, I think it’s relevant to mention that I’m also a running coach. Along with Annie, and four other amazing women, we coach a running club for girls in grades four through six (also known as the age when girls get bashed in the face by puberty). So we’re always on the hunt for unique and powerful ways to remind our girls that they’re all powerful and beautiful, every single one of them. And Annie scored big when she found this one.

Now the way I understand it, some genius in the marketing department at P&G realized that millions of girls today are right smack in the middle of a major self-confidence crisis and they could use all the positive reinforcement they can get. It dawned on P&G that girls today are under increasing pressure to perform and excel and measure up, not only against their boy counterparts but against each other (which, in my opinion, is the tougher of the two). And when you combine all that with a cocktail of puberty and body image issues, dating and general girl drama, young girls carry a heavy load. Oh yeah, and most girls’ confidence also nose-dives during puberty.

Apparently the P&G folks decided it was about time that someone shed some light on the self-confidence crisis facing girls today and ensure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond. And they decided to do it by shattering the old stereotype that doing something like a girl is a bad thing. So they filmed a short video that asked people a simple question: What does it mean to do something like a girl? And what they discovered was mind blowing.

But before I tell you what it revealed, I want you to take a minute and think about how you, yourself, would answer the question. And while you’re thinking, remember that, historically, telling someone that they run or throw or hit like a girl was usually meant as an insult.

See, I think it’s fair to assume that the chances are good that we might answer the question by flailing our arms or acting clumsy or silly or inept. But just imagine how all the young girls out there in the world might feel if we did that? Imagine what a hit that would be to their self-confidence?

So instead of creating a negative notion around doing anything like a girl, P&G created an ad that flips the concept of like a girl completely on its head and transforms it into something that’s nothing short of amazing.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you. Yup, we’re done here.

Call this my first cliffhanger, but I’m not going to tell you how the video ends. What I will say is that it features a random sampling of men and women, boys and girls, and reveals a dramatic truth about how people perceive what like a girl means. But if you want to see it for yourself, you’re gonna have to work for it.

Look, I’m well aware that almost half of the world’s population has Internet access, so I feel confident that most of you will be able to Google the phrase: like a girl. Or you have a friend who can do it for you. And when you do, you’ll find that the first thing that pops up is a three-minute video called #Like a Girl. And you’ll watch it. And you know why I know you’ll watch it? Because you’re human and you won’t be able to sleep tonight unless you find out how this story ends.

But the one thing I’ll promise you is that it’ll be worth it.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItisWhatitisColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

So here’s the video. Please give me three more minutes and click on it. You’ll be glad you did.




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