For years, doing things ‘like a girl’ has been linked to weakness, inferiority, and emasculation.

Being a girl has meant caution, self-censorship, and limited bodily motility.

It has also discouraged progress in certain areas of study and scholarship, particularly the fields of science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM).

Ideas of girls being ‘naturally’ good at certain things (such as caring, dancing, and decorating) and ‘naturally’ bad at others (physical sports, building, and science) are reinforced in every toyshop around the world creating further messages of what girls should be and do.

Two ad campaigns circulated on social media over the last two weeks have begun to challenge the language we use when we talk about what being a girl means, and what it could mean, for the better.

The Always video campaign examines common perceptions about what it means to run, throw, kick, and fight like a girl.

The Verizon ‘Inspire Her Mind ad’ examines the subtle ways that girls are dis-incentivized from pursuing STEM careers by the cues they are given about what they should be doing instead.

The idea of certain scripts of femininity inherently limiting women’s development and life choices is certainly not new.

Feminist theorists for decades have been detailing the way that emphasized femininity (Connell 1987) negatively impacts women’s lives. In her 2005 collection of essays titled On Female Body Experience Iris Marion Young details a number of harmful scripts of femininity that hold women back, including the idea of ‘throwing like a girl’.

Theorists like Sylvia Blood in Body Work make clear that these dominant ideas of what it means to be a girl are not internally created by young girls, but are introduced through social interaction, and are maintained through self-surveillance and correction.

Similarly Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender details the way in which girls idea of acceptable play behaviour, and the way in which boys and girls are encouraged differently in different subjects, has a profound effect on the way children relate to school and believe in their own success.

These campaigns are finally doing something right.

It’s time to stop saying ‘amazeballs’ and start saying ‘amazevag’.

It’s time to stop referring to being like a man or a boy as better than being like a woman or a girl.

There are an infinite number of things to celebrate about being a woman and it’s time we start recognizing them.

Time to start telling different stories about women. Time to recognize that when we criticize our bodies in front of our daughters, nieces, and other young girls we teach them that there is something wrong with them.

When we diet, dumb ourselves down, refuse to learn to fix things/defer our authority to men those girls learn that they should do that to. And so do little boys.

It’s time to start a process of radically celebrating ourselves and making sure that the next generation of women and ourselves are more confident, fearless and powerful.

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