Always' "#LikeAGirl" campaign about female self-confidence debuted on YouTube long before this year's Super Bowl, but airing during the big game caused millions of people to sit up and take notice.
This particular commercial's impact on me is twofold because I'm both a woman and an athlete. Sports have been a part of my life since I was 6 years old, and my coaches never treated myself or my teammates any differently than our male counterparts. I wasn't a girl athlete. I was an athlete, period. My mom encouraged my athletics and taught me that I was never "better than" or "less than" the guys in anything. I just was. I was good at softball. I was good at volleyball. There was so benchmark for comparison.
Playing both softball and volleyball was empowering and even in my freshman gym class, at an age where girls start to realize that playing dumb or toning down their talents is a way to attract the opposite sex, I never took it easy on the boys. They might have been bigger, stronger and faster than me, but I could hold my own and I never made apologies for my own strength.
Somewhere down the line, the phrase "throw like a girl" developed a negative connotation and is used as an insult. I distinctly remember the scene in The Sandlot when Ham Porter stated what is perhaps the most inimical thing a young boy could ever hear: "You play ball like a girl!" The shocked silence that followed was palpable.
What's sadder still is that even young girls believe that "like a girl" is a put-down.
You know what, I play ball like a girl. I throw like a girl. I hit like a girl. And I run like a girl.
And I don't understand why that's a bad thing.
And I'm insulted that someone would be insulted by being like me.
Running like a girl means running strong, even when running against the wind or in the rain. Running like a girl means running 7 half marathons, 1 full marathon and countless other 5ks and shorter races. Running like a girl means getting up early on the weekends when you're still tired to get your miles in. Running like a girl means not stopping until you're at the top of the hill or pushing through that last interval. Running like a girl means running through the fatigue and pain. Running like a girl means setting a goal and seeing it through. Running like a girl takes discipline, consistency and heart.
So if that's what running like a girl means, then I'll happily take it any day.
Here's a collection of some of my "like a girl" anthems that have been in regular rotation on my running playlists. They get me revved up and I bet they'll get you going, too!