Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tara's Second Blog Post: Always #LikeAGirl

As we all know, Superbowl commercials are of huge interest to advertisers, all of whom vie to get chosen to be featured during the program in order to reach the ridiculously high number of viewers watching the event. While I actually did not watch the game on Sunday, I did hear about a commercial for "Always Feminine Products" that I've actually seen before called "Always #LikeAGirl." The video is a little over 3 minutes and endeavors to rally support for championing girls' confidence. 

At first, the director asks a few young women, a little boy, and a grown man what it means to do something like a girl, as in run, throw, or fight. These individuals proceed to comply with the stereotype for doing something "like a girl" by appearing weak or inadequate at physical activity, flailing their hands around like a T-Rex dinosaur, etc. She then asks young girls the same question, and each of them proceeds to do the best they possibly can at showing how to run, throw, and fight like a girl, not bowing or most likely being ignorant of the derogatory gender stereotype. Next, a banner question is put on the screen asking: "When did doing something 'like a girl' become an insult?" The young boy responds that he believes he insulted girls, but not his sister, while one of the younger girls replies that "like a girl" indeed sounds like an insult. Another banner is featured stating that "a girl's confidence plummets during puberty" and that "'Always' wants to change that." Each of the young women past puberty then acknowledge how hearing the phrase "like a girl" harmfully affects young girls' perceptions of themselves between the ages of 10 and 12 and give advice that doing something "like a girl" is nothing to be ashamed of, as videos of all the girls trying their best to run, throw, fight, etc. play to the soundtrack of their anecdotes. The video closes with one young woman asking: "Why can't 'run like a girl' also mean win the race?"

This video definitely aligns with issues of identity related to gender, as women are traditionally taught during puberty through phrases such as "like a girl" that excelling at physical activity or something outside the Cult of Domesticity is wrong. I was definitely reminded of Judith Butler's ideas about gender performativity, as the young women at first performed according to society's standards about how women perform in regards to sports, while the young girls did not since they had not yet had such damaging cultural norms ingrained into their brains. The men complied with the stereotype too, demonstrating that they also took part in perpetuating the shrouding of a girl's gender identity through adhering to the cultural norm of female incompetence. However, when the participants were told to recognize the weight of the derogatory term, the girls stopped succumbing to the performance aspect required to adhere to the "like a girl" stereotype. I laud this video in promoting confidence for young women, as it encourages girls to fully accept and embrace conventionally "masculine" as well as all sides of their gender identity.

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