Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#LikeAGirl Doesn't Have to be a Bad Thing

The phrase “like a girl” has developed such a negative connotation in our male-dominated society. During the most vulnerable times in their lives, young girls are told what they should or shouldn’t do and how they should act. This behavior is toxic for developing self worth and identity. Always is a brand for women that sells feminine products for menstruation, because the brand has a strong female connection, they designed a campaign that set out to reverse this reputation of the phrase. The campaign is called #LikeAGirl and the first of the videos was released during the Super Bowl in 2015. 

Most other advertisements that are targeted towards women like to push an ideal image for physical beauty. Always took a different approach by interviewing young girls and boys, varying in the range of 8-16 years of age, about their life experiences as a girl. All older interviewees admitted that they have been stereotyped and degraded in some type of way based on their gender which impaired their self-worth. Instead of showing footage of girls ballet dancing or playing tennis while on their period, the ad asked them to demonstrate different activities from running, throwing and fighting but in the manner of “like a girl”. Each of the older females/males were shown demonstrated these activities in a weak manner including over-exaggerated hip movements that portrayed the meaning of “like a girl” to be something derogatory and weak. Next was shown a segment of young girls who, when asked to run like a girl, began to run in place with power and determination and executed all other commands in the same manner. When asked how they would run “like a girl” next time, they said that they would run like themselves.

In a second video, the question "Why do we limit girls?" was asked. Always had girls  to write something they have been told that they are not good at or shouldn’t do because of their sex on a large white cube. Each girl wrote words like “weak” or “not good enough” and shared how it made them feel. One young girl shared that she was told that she shouldn’t play the trumpet because she was a girl and wasn’t good and took that to heart and gave up…for a week. She wanted to prove the people who told her she couldn’t wrong so she practiced and practiced until she could. All participants then shared that all of these obstacles that were written on the boxes made them feel weak and did not accurately define them. Then they were told to knock down the boxes, kick them, do anything to break free of them. You can see the look of relief on their faces when they realized that these words were not who they were.This second advertisement had a similar message to the first, but instead focused on encouraging girls to be themselves and be whatever they wanted to be. The word 'Unstoppable' is used in order to reinforce their message of instilling confidence in their audience and not allowing anything to hold them back anymore.
"I mean, yes! I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl and that is not something that I should be ashamed of, so I'm going to do it anyway"

                         -#LikeAGirl Campaign 
The campaign was impressively executed and had an overwhelming response with more than 54 million views on YouTube and around 30 million more times from other various sites. One reason for this campaign being so successful was because it resonated with its audience based on a strong emotional appeal. I can’t speak for all women, but I know myself and innumerable other women and young girls can relate to the experiences that were shared. The campaign presented a problem, which was that a girl’s confidence can tumble during puberty and then provided a solution by saying “it doesn’t have to”. It became engaging at the end of the video with a single sentence; “Let’s make #LikeAGirl mean amazing things”. Rather than presenting their products in an advertisement where the goal is to increase sales/promotion, Always chose a message that chose to empower and instill confidence in women in a way that had never been done before. 

Super Bowl Sunday has the highest rates for television viewership out of the entire year. The commercials during this game are known to be the best of the best in advertising, the majority of them relying on humor to capture the audience. From my own personal experience with the advertisement, the #LikeAGirl campaign stood out compared to all of the others because after it aired, the room was quiet. Unlike typical advertisements for feminine products that are targeted specifically to women, I don’t think the campaign was geared toward any specific target audience because it resonated with every person in the room regardless of age or gender. 

Theory wise, the campaign contained elements of the Cognitive Dissonance Theory which explains that people tend to only seek out messages that are consistent with their attitudes and will ignore others that are not in alignment with their opinions or beliefs. There are only two males featured in the interview segment, one young and one a young man. The younger of the boys who demonstrated the phrase “like a girl” to mean something weak and derogatory. After, he was asked if he thought that he had insulted his sister. Initially his response was a hard and quick no, but then he admitted that yes, he did think that he had insulted girls. I thought that his feature in the ad was interesting because it demonstrated a disconnect between the belief that girls aren’t weak, but their actions showed differently. Most of the time messages that are dissonant are either ignored or changed in order to agree with beliefs, which are both defense mechanisms. However, in this case Always was successfully able to change the interpretation of the phrase and according to studies that were done to evaluate the success of the campaign, cause people to rethink using “like a girl” as an insult. 

No one would have thought that an advertisement for pads and tampons would have stolen the show during the Super Bowl commercials, but the reaction was significant. The video was being shared on Facebook, linked on twitter as well as other social medias making the hashtag #LikeAGirl trend worldwide sharing their stories and what it meant to be #LikeAGirl. What I like about this campaign and what made it so impressive is that they did not use the product as a solution to the proposed problem. In fact, there was no mention or use of any Always products. They are a brand that sells products for women and therefor created this campaign in order to strengthen and empower females of all ages.

I am no feminist myself, however I did find myself to be very drawn to this campaign because I think it was enlightening and inspiring. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Study Abroad: London

The year 2016 has some pretty exciting things in store for me, but what I am most excited for is traveling outside of the United States for the first time. Towards the end of November I was accepted to study abroad for a semester in London. Then there was the hard part-getting my mom to agree to let me go. I don’t know how I did it but both of my parents were able to financially work it out, allowing me to attend the trip which I am so very grateful for (thank you mom and dad, xoxo). The program includes a week long of classes on campus and then over three weeks spent touring London and other cities in England, including Stonehenge. 

There are several things that I need to accomplish before leaving. This will be my first time officially traveling outside of US territory (Puerto Rico doesn’t count), meaning that I finally have to obtain a passport. Taking care of legal documentation is first and far-most important and then comes the fun part which is buying new carry on luggage for the plane as well as shopping for my new London wardrobe. 

I will be taking 2 courses in a span of 4 weeks which will be extremely challenging and information packed. These courses count for 6 credits of my Liberal Arts core curriculum requirements so it fit extremely well into my graduation plan. To ensure that we don’t  spend the entire duration of the journey studying and reading course materials, my instructor has promised that we will do all course work either the week before we depart for London or once we have returned to the states. This was one thing that I was cautious of before signing up for the program, I didn’t want to be locked up with a textbook when I could be exploring the city. 

The most nerve-racking part of this experience for me is the fact that i do not know anyone else who is also involved in the program. Our first official meeting for the program will be in the beginning of February. I am excited to meet and get to know everyone on this trip. 

I plan on updating this blog throughout this experience from start to finish and I hope that I will be able to look back on my writing and remember the details of the places I saw, the things I did and the people I met. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

2016, Here I Come!!!

Think Positively. It took me until now to realize but I have been way too hard on myself. I think that it is human nature to be our own worst critics, even worse for females, but there comes a point where it gets to be too much. There are already so many outside sources of negativity, that there is no need for there to be any more internally. Why not be nice to yourself, even if no one else is?

Love Myself. This year one of my goals is to be more positive and learn to love myself. This will not be an easy task for me as I have never had very good self confidence growing up and even as an adult. I have always compared myself to others and wished that I looked like a certain celebrity or I wasn't “too tall” or so “chunky” and my self confidence was never extremely high. The world is such a cruel place and I doubt that will ever change, but I think if you can at least make life even a little happier for yourself; why wouldn’t you? I’m determined to be my own #1 fan and learn to see the positives instead of picking on the negatives. Every time I start to say or think something bad about myself, I’m going to counteract that by saying something nice or that I like about myself. My own personal negativity towards myself needs to stop and I think that it can even improve the happiness in other aspects of my life as well. 

Exercise More. You can’t talk the talk and not walk the walk though. I don’t want to just tell myself that I look good, I also want to feel good which can only be brought to life by eating healthier and some form of regular exercise. I think this last half year was stressful on me so I became lazy and ended up gaining weight, which did not help with my self esteem. This year I want to eat healthier foods (not saying I’ll always eat healthy because I can never resist Taco Bell or a quality pizza) but including more fruits and veggies into other meals is enough for me. Combine that healthy eating with exercise. When I put my mind to something, I obsess over it and that can come in handy when I am at the gym. I always want to push myself harder, but right now I’ll be back in beginner mode which will be extremely hard to not be able to do as much as I used to. I want to commit myself to do at least 2 hours of exercise a week at first and then increase the amount as time goes on and I adjust to my new schedule. This will take time and effort and it is easy to become discouraged when you don’t see immediate results, but in the long run all the hard work will pay off and hopefully I’ll be able to fit back into my favorite shorts!

Love More. It’s not that I take the people in my life for granted, I just think that I don’t tell them how much I love and appreciate them. In my opinion, the most important thing in life is your relationships. They define who you are, where you are from and who you will be. Pretty important if you ask me. I put such a great emphasis on these people but do I ever thank them properly or tell them how much they mean to me? I don’t think its physically possible to every say it enough and I hardly do it at all, which is terrible. I want the small group of people in my life know how important they are to me, instead of just assuming that they already know. Dear family and friends, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOUUUUU!!!!!!

Work Harder. I recently was just hired into a leadership position at my job and I am extremely nervous about what this will mean for me and what is expected of me. I’m hoping I can handle those duties with my school work while also finding time for social activities. This semester is going to be so busy which is why I think that time management will be of the essence for me. With my new job and new classes I will need to organize my time and designate times for each agenda. Although I am scared, I am also excited to be in this new leadership position, as I haven’t acted as a leader since high school. I’m hoping this will teach me new tricks and will better prepare me as an adult for my future career.

I know that if I can learn to do the things I have listed above that I can make 2016 truly memorable in a great way. This year has some exciting things in store for me and I want to make the most out of them and not let them go to waste. I want to start living my life and believe that I can do whatever the hell I want to do and no one can stop me. 2016, here I come!