On Running Like a Girl

Since when did “Run like a girl” become an insult?  Or “Throw like a girl”? Or “Fight like a girl”?  Or ANYTHING Like a Girl?  If you haven’t seen this ad, please watch it. Watch all of it. Then watch it again. Then share it. With everyone. When I first saw this ad, I had such a lump in my throat. I really did. What the hell happened?  It made my heart break.  At what point do little girls lose their confidence? According to this new ad from Always feminine products, it happens at some point during puberty.  Apparently, the girls they surveyed claimed their drop in self-confidence coincided with puberty and their first period; which is why the response of a 9 year old versus an 18 year old when asked the question is so drastically different. Sure. It’s a marketing campaign, a poignant one at that, whose intention is to sell Always products. But. It is sparking a broader conversation around female confidence. And I think that’s fanfuckingtastic.

Tina and I had a discussion about Running Like Girls as we were Running 6 Hungover Miles Like Boozebags Girls in a steamy Central Park on Sunday.  We came to the same conclusion.  We both never thought that Running Like a Girl meant we were to bust out with the stereotypical limp arms, flailing feet and ridiculous pouty out-of-breath expression.  Ever.  Tina grew up in a large family with brothers.  If she wanted to play at all, she had to Throw Like a Boy. Or Run Fast Like a Boy.  For Tina it became the opposite; “Pick Tina. She can Kick Like a Boy.”  She didn’t hear the reverse.

For me, it was; “Pick Colby. She’s Strong”- not necessarily “Strong Like a Boy” but “Strong for A Girl”; a different variation of the same damn theme.  Now that I write it, it was a slam. Sure, I got picked first but there was a subtle undertone. I only got picked first because I wasn’t really like the other girls, I was more like a boy. The message meant to be sent was: Girls were inferior. And you just got lucky, Honey. However, it didn’t waver my self-confidence or change my perception of who I was.  I didn’t internalize it. Or believe it. I Was Strong. I Was Strong For Anyone. Not just for a girl. It was that simple.  If you asked me those same questions throughout my life, I would have the same response. I know I would have and I had an EXTREMELY early voyage into Womanhood.  Why would my answers have remained constant? Because I had (and continue to have) a strong, dynamo of a Mother who empowered me and told me I could be anything I ever wanted to be throughout my entire life. And I believed her.

You can do anything.

You can do anything.

You can do anything.  

The message was steady and persistent, constant and loving. As a result, it never crossed my mind that I was inferior to ANYONE. Work hard and you can do anything. That was the message. I never for one minute second guessed that because of my amazing Mother. And I still don’t because of her. Girls need strong women present in their lives in order to debunk the social myth that being “Like A Girl” is a negative thing.  They need them. Like fish need water. It’s imperative. Confident girls remain self- confident when they have strong role models ever-present in their lives. It is then that they grow to be empowered, strong, confident women.

As a result, they will believe in themselves. Always.



57 thoughts on “On Running Like a Girl

  1. I have watched that little movie about 5 times and cried EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (I cry a lot…did you know this?) It makes me so emotional to think of my daughter reaching that awkward age and being so unsure of herself and having words like that damage her. I absolutely love what Always has done here and I can’t wait to set an example for Betty and show her what strong women can do.

    Always…more than just maxi pads to me now. 🙂

    • I know right?!?!? I was crying blogging this. It’s so very important. (I cry a lot too, Salt. No wonder we dig each other?) My tears were also for the daughter I don’t have. (That’s a WHHHOLE other bottle of tears.) But I do have nieces and my wish for them is to be strong, confident women. You are a wonderful, smart, sassy, strong, marathoning, beautiful role model for Betty. You’re already setting the example. And isn’t that little dolly lucky? 🙂

      • With you two on the cry a lot. I am an emotional sap and this campaign hit me where it hurts. As a very busty gal, I cannot tell you how many times I am questioned about “running with those”. Well newsflash Einsteins, they make these revolutionary things called sports bras.

        And I cry for the daughter(s) (and son(s)) I don’t have too Colby. My life rocks, it just isn’t the one I always thought I’d have. That’s cool. But sometimes…

      • Yes I also adore my nieces and nephews and godson. Life isn’t always fair, but it is certainly a fun journey. xo

      • It’s not always fair. And sometimes it’s not the life you’ve intended. But I’d be goddamned if I’m not trying to live a life that is extraordinary.

      • Exactly!!! We have to make the most of what we have as our time is relatively short and there is no reason not to live it to its fullest no matter what our circumstance!!! I’m off to Oregon wine country, San Francisco, Vancouver, San Francisco again, New Orleans, Orlando, and Cabo in the next 6 months or so. Can’t complain about that!

  2. Well, as I said (panted? slurred?) on Sunday, we’re making progress. Back when I was a wee one, running like a girl was NEVER anything but an insult. Now girls get to feel pride in their gender for 12 years or so. Depressing, but an improvement. Let’s keep pushing so Nicole 2.0 and her peers can feel kick-ass for being girls their whole lives!!!

  3. I felt emotional watching this. I have fought all my life against this sort of attitude only to be called a feminist – that has also been used as an insult . I just believe that I understand the put downs and lack of respect shown. Great to see things like this out there!

  4. What a great post! I’m with salt….my daughter turns 9 in a couple of months and I just got very emotional thinking about close she is to the age where a girls “self esteem plumets”. I hope that I can help her get through that stage with her confidence still intact and that I am showing her that “running like a girl” or doing anything “like a girl” is a good thing!

  5. Fantastic post, Colby! That video definitely put a lump in my throat. It’s incredibly sad what society does to young girls – heartbreaking really. I don’t have great confidence along with many other women, but I know I need to change that as I’m setting an example for younger girls. The problem won’t get better unless older girls/women change their behavior and dialogue.

  6. Omg! I love this! I love what it stands for and what it’s going to mean for my daughter…. For my generation to do anything “like a girl” WAS an insult…. But now it’s a compliment and I.LOVE.THAT!

  7. Love, love, LOVE that marketing campaign that really pulls at your heartstrings and makes your eyes leak, a little. I think I may have fallen victim in the puberty years, to the “like a girl” mentality. I never really believed I was good enough. For anything. Now, after proving to myself that I can run 26 miles in a row… well, I suppose my perspective has changed a little. 🙂 I wish that I had been able to have this confidence back then. My life probably would have looked very different.

  8. My daughter who is now 24 starting running xc in seventh grade and kept running through high school and college. At some point in her running career she had a t shirt that read something like this:
    He said you run like a girl.
    I said if you run a little faster you can run like one too.
    Keep up the great work.
    By the way she enters law school in the fall. Yesssss!

  9. I shared a picture showing when sideburns and no socks were in fashion. I’m wondering if there is a photo somewhere of the Boozebag Girls. Inquiring minds want to know.
    And not to in any way slight my son he also ran xc from junior high all the way through high school.

      • No picture? I am crushed. Yes, I was an Owl but haven’t been back to campus in years. I lived all over New Haven in my years at school and even spent a semester in Hamden. For a bit I lived in the shadow of West Rock and If I recall running up it was part of our workouts. Those were some of the best days of my misspent youth.

      • Well then you’ll appreciate that I just ran hill repeats up those god awful steep hills perpendicular to Whitney Ave and Prospect Street. The Elm City is sweltering today. So the real question is: Sally’s or Pepe’s?

      • Even with a map of the city in front of me I can’t find you. I know not of Sally’s or Pepe’s. I do know that the first, original Subway was on Whalley Avenue. Congrats on the hills.

      • That’s because “Hell” isn’t on a street map. It’s an inferno outside. Thank you. I just stood in the Cold Room in the lab. I’m still sweating.

        No Sally’s or Pepe’s. {Faints. Hits head. Blacks out.}

      • I’m guessing that you were on the Yale campus which is a place I did not frequent on a regular basis. I will say that I was in New Haven when Bill and Hillary were in law school. We did not hang out though. How different life would have turned out if we were buds.

      • Ahhhh Bill and Hill. She was rocking big old Coke bottle specs at the time. Yes. I run through Yale often. Lots of hills around there too. In fact I was going to do a run-at-lunch-in-pictures but it was so hot my phone shut down. Damn you iPhone. Damn you.

      • Just think – if I knew them back them I could have been the Ambassador to Belgium or something like that. Maybe Minister of Silly Walks.

  10. As a father of two daughters I find the drop off in confidence well…depressing? Why do wonderful little girls decide they can’t do math after 6th grade? Why do they think there is anything the can’t do? They are wonderful little people with all of the potential of ALL of their classmates.
    My oldest has confidence, but the normal lack thereof you would expect from a 20-yr old. She’s getting there.
    My youngest had very little confidence but since she has started working I think she has gained a lot. The odd thing is, she is bright, see’s stupid people daily, thinks they suck but somehow thinks she doesn’t measure up. In Daddy’s opinion, she F’ing amazing.

    • How could she NOT be f’ing amazing? She has a marathoner dad and a scientist mom. WHAT CAN’T SHE DO? 🙂 I went to an all Girls High School and although I didn’t necessarily see it at the time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Science? AP Biology? Calculus? Bring it. There was nothing I thought I couldn’t do. Or at least try.

      • My girls went to an all girls Catholic HS. Oldest graduated, youngest got 2 years, they went co-ed and she transferred to the local public HS.
        She has a pile of friends so I think the move was good for her. But part of me thinks 2 more years in that environment would have been helpful to her.
        It’s just not easy!

  11. That was amazing! I’ve never seen this ad so thanks for sharing. Yes! I cried. Because I’ve thought that too… that running like a girl means girls are weaker. But I run like a girl, not because I’m weaker but because I AM A GIRL! I am about to reblog. This must be shared!

  12. Reblogged this on RUN WRIGHT and commented:
    I run like a girl, not because I am weaker. I run like a girl because I AM A GIRL. I walk like a girl because I AM A GIRL. I think like a girl because I AM A GIRL. Everything I do is like a girl because I AM A GIRL AND I AM PROUD OF THAT!
    Girls are strong. Not in the same ways that boys are strong. But the strength of a woman is an indomitable force, a force to be reckoned with, something special. Femininity is a gift from God, to be treasured, not to bury in shame.
    I don’t reblog a lot but this post was truly deserving. Watch the embedded video and let me know what you think.

  13. Pingback: Superbowl Musings | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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