Stop! Before you read any further, I need you to quit reading and watch this incredible commercial from Always, entitled “Like a Girl” (#LikeAGirl). I suspect many of the women reading this have already seen the spot, as it’s been viewed over 18 million times already on YouTube and has received a ton of press and social media attention. For any guys reading this, just get over the fact that it’s made by a brand of feminine hygiene products. None of that is discussed in the spot.
Tears. Chills. Pride. Fist pumps in the air. Cries of “Damn Straight!” and “Heck Yeah!” and “Preach It!” and “You Know that’s Right!” Guilt. Reflection. The reactions to this spot have been profound.
I was so inspired after seeing the ad that I sent it to a large group of our employees – mostly women – at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (nonprofits skew higher in female employees than most industries). I also copied several of our male colleagues and leaders.
This was my email to them:
Have you all seen this ad? Incredible creative! I, for one, am proud to be “like a girl.” I run hard. I lift heavy weights. I have a great arm. I also cuddle my babies, have a big job and serve others. I feel blessed to have come from a line of strong women who taught me that anything is possible.
I am also so fortunate to work with all of you incredible women. You are smart. And strong. And compassionate. And competitive. And wise. And funny. The mission of St. Jude is blessed by your leadership.
Hope you found this as inspiring as I did today.
Love to all of you,
P.S. I copied several of the guys here because I know how much they support us, and are also raising strong, incredible daughters.
The responses I got to this note were equally as profound. It truly struck a chord. Women wrote back to me with stories of their own upbringing and strong female role models. Many of them used this ad as an opportunity to sit down with their daughters and have a heartfelt conversation. Some of the moms sat down with their sons and reiterated their own strengths as a woman and mom, encouraging their sons to surround themselves with strong women, personally and professionally. Several of the younger women wrote in appreciation of the female leaders on our team, and what it means to them to have such strong role models in leadership, faith and work/life balance. Men wrote back with words of love and admiration for their mothers, daughters and granddaughters. One shared his story of an absent father and the powerful dual role his mother played in his life, which led to him choosing an equally strong woman as his wife.
I, too, used this ad to have two important conversations. First, with my husband. I adore this man. He is my biggest cheerleader. He loves all my curves and edges and appreciates that I am a strong woman. But he also has uttered the phrase “like a girl” on more than one occasion. It’s become more prevalent as our son grows (he is two now). Whether he truly means it or not, that phrase is in his vocabulary, and it’s come out of his mouth as our son has picked up balls and bats and golf clubs. It’s a careless phrase, and I hate it being said in front of my daughter. His reaction after watching the video? “Wow.” So I asked, “You going to use that phrase again?” His answer, “Of course not. You and Emerson are incredible.” He comes from a strong line of women as well so I know it was eye-opening for him. He agrees that we have to get this phrase out of our culture.
I really debated on whether or not to show this ad to my almost 5-year-old daughter. I wanted her to remain pure in her belief that girls are strong, and fast and capable. So I did my own experiment first. I asked her to “run like a girl.” Just like Dakota in the ad, she ran as fast as she could in place. Then I asked her to “fight like a girl.” Once again, just like the little girls in the ad, she punched the air hard. I went through each question, and she proved that being “like a girl” is awesome. Then, I let her watch the video and explained that some people are silly and don’t understand how great girls are.
When it was done, I cupped her little face in my hands, looked her in the eyes and said, “Baby girl, you can be anything in the world you want to be. You are strong, and smart, and capable, and caring, and loving. Don’t ever let anyone in this world tell you otherwise. Mommy and Daddy love you. Your whole family loves you. Most importantly, God loves you.” She said, “I know mommy. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, and a nurse, and a teacher and a mommy. I want to be a mommy like you.” My eyes filled with tears and my heart, with pride.
Isn’t that what the Loving on Me platform is all about at its core? Believing that we all have strength, and perseverance, and attitude, and skills, and drive, and courage, and determination and passion? Loving on Me encourages us to see the strengths inside each of us, to be true to ourselves and to inspire each other. Are you embracing this today?
For every woman like me who came from a line of strong women and had men who believed in me and championed me…For every little girl like mine who is loved and nurtured…there are countless young girls and women who are put down, shunned, sold into slavery, used and abused. We still live in a world where “like a girl” is a death sentence. Some are finding their ways to a new path, new self esteem and strength. Others will never get the chance. You can’t save them all today, although there are incredible groups working right now to tackle these issues if you want to pledge your support. But you can start by impacting the lives of the women around you. Let’s let all women know that being “Like a Girl” is the best compliment possible.