#LikeAGirl? Like A Barf, More Like

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Claire wants the companies that selling her sanitary products to not pretend to be the leading voices of feminism in the name of commerce.

…counter the stereotype that being like a girl is an insult…’

Since June 2014, the feminine hygiene brand Always have been driving the #LikeAGirl campaign, a noble attempt to ‘combat confidence issues in adolescent girls and counter the stereotype that being like a girl is an insult’. The highlight of this ongoing campaign was a 60-second advertisement slot at the 2015 Superbowl, which cost the company a staggering nine million dollars.

In a series of videos, the phrase ‘like a girl’ is demonstrated in a derogative way, as people flail around like whimsical pixies apparently acting like girls. This could be quite humorous, but queue the sentimental backing music, and instead you’re encouraged to feel saddened that girls are deemed pathetic. The video then goes on to demonstrate how being ‘like a girl’ shouldn’t be an insult, but rather a statement that empowers women.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for empowering women and I appreciate that promoting a more positive, open-minded approach to women’s abilities is a noble fight, but there is something slightly unsettling about a corporate brand force-feeding us these sensibilities.

…there is something slightly unsettling about a corporate brand force-feeding us these sensibilities…

As a young woman, I’m not convinced that a company I purchase sanitary towels from once a month are representatives for the feminist fight. I certainly don’t feel moved by their campaign, even though like every other woman in the history of women I have a menstrual cycle so should know what it’s like to feel undermined? Or something?

One of the problems with this campaign is that it has nothing to do with their product, other than the vague connection that, ‘More than half of girls experience a drop in confidence during puberty’. Huh?

Oh right, yeah, because when we start getting our period and purchasing feminine hygiene products, that’s when we begin to hate ourselves.

Their slogan to this campaign is ‘Rewrite the Rules’, which for me just conjures up the image of demented scrawlings made in period blood. I don’t quite understand the point they’re trying to make, as this statement doesn’t quite correlate with ‘like a girl’ being an insult. Was using that statement ever a rule? Maybe it’s an unspoken rule? I didn’t know there were any rules…

Okay let’s suppose they are suggesting that being described ‘like a girl’ in a negative way is an unspoken rule…

Okay let’s suppose they are suggesting that being described ‘like a girl’ in a negative way is an unspoken rule; their endeavor to change this does seem to be having a positive impact. With the videos reaching over 80 million views in 150 countries, the Always campaign is being described as ‘a game changer’, ‘redefining’, and “an anthem for the empowerment of young women”. Well, there are certainly a lot of people tweeting about it that’s for sure.

They are doing EVERYTHING right? Is it a masterpiece? What is it I’m not getting? Some people have even been reduced to tears after watching the adverts. (Although, maybe they were just on their period).

Hold the phone! Always #LikeaGirl is being nominated for an Emmy?? There is definitely something I must be missing here, maybe I should take a look again at those videos…

Oh, thanks, Always. Before you came along I was as useless as the next chick.

Nope. Definitely still making me feel physically sick. The whole thing is just too earnest for my liking, and what is also completely pompous is the description Always have on their Facebook profile – I quote:

Behind every woman is another woman. And standing beside them is Always. Together, we can achieve anything.

Oh, thanks, Always. Before you came along I was as useless as the next chick.

Always is not the first company to use this kind of sentimental spiel to assist women in feeling better about themselves. The skincare company Dove has created number of hashtags and videos for their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign as a way of promoting the mindset that everyone should feel beautiful in their own skin.

In one of Dove’s most recent videos, women are confronted with the choice of whether they should walk through a door that labels them ‘beautiful’ or ‘average’. Predictably most of the women in the video walk through the ‘average’ door, securing the belief that most of us consider ourselves not beautiful, just average.

Once again, women are reminded that they have no self worth and it’s a corporate company that are going to change that.

Once again, women are reminded that they have no self worth and it’s a corporate company that are going to change that.

‘Everyone else thinks you’re ugly, especially you. But don’t worry because Dove is here. Now, remember, your looks are everything and you definitely don’t want to be average. Gross. When you believe you’re beautiful, that’s when you are truly worthy.’ – cue sentimental music.

Maybe Dove is a cult, and if you walk through the ‘average’ door you’ll be transported to a better place with the holiness of skincare. If you walk through the ‘beautiful’ door, you fall down a deep hole because you ruined their marketing ploy by not conforming.

The problem with this video is that instead of it embracing womanhood, wellbeing, and spirituality as things we should aspire to, it redefines the notion that femininity is outlined by these two choices based on the way we look.

In an article from Fast Company, it states, ‘(Real Beauty) is a platform, after all, that speaks of broadening the definition of beauty, and yet implicitly argues that physical beauty is paramount’.

‘(Real Beauty) is a platform, after all, that speaks of broadening the definition of beauty, and yet implicitly argues that physical beauty is paramount’.

So instead of eradicating a mentality that women should value themselves for more than just the way they look, Dove seems to be encouraging it. While they might have good intentions, Dove is ultimately contradicting the message of ‘Real Beauty’.

A movement that I do find refreshing is #thisgirlcan, lead by Sport England as a way to inspire women to take part in sports activities. Apart from it not being patronising or corny what separates this campaign with the others, is that the intention has a lot more substance to it.

In the promotional video for #thisgirlcan, Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’ is backing track to various shots of women playing different sports and exercising. The women are sweating, bits are jiggling, and some of them look knackered, this all contributes to a humorous compilation of real women enjoying themselves.

Not only does it touch on gender inequality in sports being that females are underrated and undervalued in the sports world, #thisgirlcan also tackles the perception that women should always look great, and never get sweaty or push their physicality to the limits.

The message is clear and direct: All women are different, all women should feel empowered, and by taking part in exercise you will have an enhanced wellbeing, greater confidence and a richer lifestyle.

It could be said that because Always and Dove are companies that sell products targeted at women they have an obligation to be a voice for feminism. However when a corporate company tries to deliver a noble message, it feels slightly conceited because, ultimately, behind their good intentions is still the agenda to a sell product. The #thisgirlcan campaign works because it outlines a truthful understanding of real women without a hidden agenda.

It’s so PC it makes me squirm.

While Always’ #likeagirl campaign may have been described as being ‘a game changer’, and ‘redefining’, I just can’t shake off the feeling that it is too self-righteous. I can imagine whoever came up with the idea is giving themselves a big pat on the back for doing such a great job. Not only that, but the $9 million spent on this advert seems like a heck of a lot of money to spoon-feed people morals. It’s so PC it makes me squirm.

Feminism is an ongoing movement but these companies are acting like they came up with the whole idea before anyone else. I’m all for empowering women, but this bunch of baloney just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Does the campaign make you want to barf or can you see the value in it? Facebook or Twitter is the place, ace.