Just like a girl is a phrase that has stuck in my mind since last night’s Game. A commercial that’s intent was to empower and encourage girls from a very young age. Surprisingly to myself the message conveyed did not and still does not sit well with me.
Thinking I was reading too much into it I took a quick glance at my sister-in-law who matched my What the Feck look in its full entirety. Okay, well she’s a good Christian girl so her’s was more of a what the heck look, but mine was most difinitly a what the feck! Then I glance at my 7yo daughter who was watching the game at that moment and noticed the confused, unassured look on her face and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
My daughter has never once in her life heard the phrase like a girl! It s not a phrase used in my house and not one that as of yet, she has heard in school. I can see how this would confuse her to look at the t.v. and see these girls with their almost sad looks on their faces demonstrating what it means to “run like a girl”. The last I checked we have not lived in the caveman years for quite some time, and gender stereotypes no longer existed.
Maybe I am making too much out of it, but seriously. My daughter for example loves football, plays with pokemon cards and rather enjoys minecraft. She also loves to play with barbies and dress up like a princess. On most Sundays she can be found yelling a the t.v. just like her dad over the opposing team scoring their touchdown. She is not girlie, she is not a tom boy, she is simply just her!
Boys and girls alike both have insecurities as they hit puberty. Boys just like girls have eating disorders, become prostitutes, do poorly at school due to being picked on and lack of confidence. The sudden rage in hormones prone these young people to have a heightened emotional state. It’s purely biology.
The way we react to it and exploit it in the media is where I think we can improve. Young girls way to skinny and boys looking way too mature on t.v. can be a fine example of what I mean by what the above statement. Let’s get rid of the stereotypical roles to begin with and just look at the individual person.
Take Danica Patrick for example. Does she race cars like a girl? No, she races cars like a skilled and trained racecar driver. What about Serena Williams, does she play tennis like a girl. Most of us would agree that she plays tennis like a champ. On the flip side, Tom Brady doesn’t play football like a man, he plays football like a skilled trained athlete.
If we want to empower our young ones, then we need to show them pictures of ordinary people doing great things. Let’s teach them how to stand up to bullies, and build their self-confidence at home. I tell my children every day that they are smart, acknowledge when they work hard on the things that do not come easy. For my oldest that subject is math. It does not come easy but she works hard to understand the concepts. I tell my son he is strong and beautiful, because guess what he is both of those things.
Now, I realize that despite all of my efforts, I lose my cool factor to some degree once my kids start school. This is when the peer relationships began to form and have greater importance on the kids. One kid can be a bully and tell a child he or she is fat or useless and the kid is suddenly using that as their personal inner voice.
If we want to start a campaign anti bullying is a much more worthwhile campaign. It simply should not be tolerated, yet somehow the bully syndrome has yet to change. Just the other day a friend posted on Facebook that her child was being choked on the school bus and the bus driver did nothing. If an adult did this to another adult it is a crime. In what way should this type of behavior be tolerated. It saddens me to see that this still continues in our society.
I beg to ask, are the bigger problems that we are stereotyping girls in general or is the bigger problem that we need to just stop bullying period. I say let’s stop the bullying, stop tolerating it in schools and have harsher punishments for those that bully.