There have been a lot of ads and discussions about gender perceptions. One of the most viral ones is the video from Always about what it means to run like a girl, throw like a girl, and fight like a girl. (You can find the video, which has been viewed 10 million times, at the end of the post.)
What's interesting about the Always ad is that it notes that around ages 10 to 12, the tween years, is when the "like a girl" connotation becomes negative and girls say their confidence plummets. Always says the ad is "kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty."
I'm all for female confidence at every age. Awesome. I'm hoping that Always and other marketers taking this approach will offer more concrete ways to show that "like a girl" is another way of saying "be awesome."
But Always hasn't yet offered those specifics. Talking about it is a great place to start, but tween parents know that it often, hearing it from your parents isn't quite enough. Kids, especially tweens and teens, love proof. Concrete examples.
So parents, show your sons and daughters how awesome girls can be. Find them role models who leave no doubt that running like a girl means to run fast, hard and well.
We took a family trip to the Chicago Red Stars soccer game last week, one we had planned before the Always ad debuted. I didn't plan for it to be a way to build upon the video, but it helped redefine what "run like a girl" means for my daughter.
The Chicago Red Stars are the professional women's soccer team in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) featuring great players like Shannon Boxx, Vanessa DiBernardo They played the Portland Thorns, who have star player and U.S. Olympic hero Alex Morgan.
My tween is not huge into sports, but over the course of the game, she really got into it. She even said, "This is way better than I thought it would be." Which made me think that she did have a negative connotation about women's soccer heading into the game. Watching it, though, changed her mind.
At the end of the game, players signed autographs and my tween was right there to have players sign her program.
The players were very gracious and encouraging. They were great examples of strong, kind women. Girls who can run, kick and be awesome, both on the field and off.
Perhaps my favorite part of the game was the number of boys in attendance, including the one who said to my tween at the pool the next day, "Hey! I saw you at the soccer game!"
I loved that he didn't say "girls' soccer game." Just "soccer game." A game in which girls kicked like girls, girls who are awesome professional athletes.
If you want to change how your tweens view what it means to run and kick like a girl, check out one of the NWSL teams, or a professional softball team. Chicago readers: the Thorns and Alex Morgan will be back this Thurs., July 17th, and the Red Stars play at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Also consider checking out a National Pro Fastpitch softball team, like the Chicago Bandits. Or even roller derby, like the Windy City Rollers. There are women's athletes out there, and by supporting them, you can send your tweens and teens a powerful message.
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