There are words and phrases that have become such a strong part of our day-to-day vernacular that oftentimes we don’t realize what we’re actually saying. One of the most common phrases that comes to mind is “like a girl.”
Ever notice how “like a girl” has become this phrase to insinuate that whatever you are doing is weak or incorrect? For example, “You run like a girl.” This simple sentence has the implication you are not running fast enough, hard enough or strong enough. I don’t know what’s more sad: The fact that women have proven themselves time and time again only to still have a phrase like this around, or the fact that women have to prove themselves just to seem equal to the rest of the world.
Because these phrases have been around so long, it’s easy to forget they actually have meaning behind them. It’s easy to assume they’re just phrases that have no actual negative impact behind them. But the thing is, they do.
When we say things such as “like a girl,” we’re putting women all around the world down. If you watch the Always ad that aired during the Super Bowl last year titled #LikeAGirl, pay attention to what happens when they ask the little boy if he thinks he just insulted his sister. He’s quick to say no, but second-guesses himself just as quickly. You can see the cogs turning in this child’s mind as he processes what he’s just learned: Running “like a girl” is surrounded by the idea that women must be slower and weaker—something he doesn’t actually believe. It was a powerful moment that really solidified the idea of how these phrases are unknowingly hurtful.
When we say “like a girl” to young girls and women, I think what we’re actually telling them is that, to be worth anything, they have to stray from their sex, and they should try to be more masculine. It pushes this idea into their minds that if they want to be strong, or smart, or worth anything, they have to try their best to stray from seeming too “girly” or feminine. Seems like a double standard, right?
We as women shouldn’t do things like girls, but if we appear too masculine in physical appearance then we’re immediately judged as butch or unattractive. We’re stuck in a purgatory between femininity and masculinity, and if we want to make it out alive we have to find the right balance between the two, something which seems equally impossible and ridiculous.
We have to remember that our sex doesn’t necessarily define our personalities. Some women are assertive, but so are some men; some women are more reserved, just as some men are. Let’s make a conscious effort to remove “like a girl” from our vocabulary and do away with it once and for all. We’re women, we’re not weak, we don’t need to “man up.” We do things like girls because we are girls, simple as that.