What Professional Female Athletes Think of Always' "Like a Girl" Ad

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By now you've probably seen the Always #LikeAGirl video from their so-called "social experiment." When we first watched the video, we had mixed reactions. Amidst headlines touting the ads as the most empowering, inspiring, life-changing thing ever, we couldn't help but feel slightly skeptical of what felt was like an emotional ploy for tampon sales.

This sentiment was also shared by the Daily Beast who put it this way: "[The video] demonstrates real problems—femaleness as a derogatory statement, decrease in self-confidence as women mature—in a beautiful and clear way, but then pretends a corporate manufacturer of panty liners meant to 'help you feel fresh every day' can solve them."

The video also struck us as a little out of touch. Aren't we past this stereotype by now? Are people really ignorant enough to still use the phrase "like a girl"? But, admittedly, we may be biased, as we spend every day writing about female athleticism, interviewing incredible active women, and promoting women's fitness pursuits. So we asked elite female athletes to weigh in on the ad, and their responses were eye-opening. 

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"I think it's a very powerful video. I've written about the internal conflicts of being a female athlete. These seemingly harmless words continue to prevent girls from developing the indomitable confidence many of us have been lucky enough to protect or restore. I'm a fan of any movement that makes adolescence easier for girls. It certainly can't hurt to redefine the term 'like a girl' to more accurately describe our capabilities. Let's swap 'like a girl' for 'like an amateur.' Makes a hell of a lot more sense anyway." -Lauren Fleshman, two-time USA Track and Field Champion for 5k and professional athlete for Oiselle

"I agree that we should be way beyond this kind of thing. I can think of so many strong female sports models (the Williams sisters in tennis, Paula Radcliffe in the marathon, Jessica Ennis in heptathlon, Chrissie Wellington in triathlon, and Lizzy Hawker and Anne Frost in ultra world). I think that we should be at the stage in sports—and also in people's perceptions of sports—that there is no reason why women can't do 99 percent of what men do, and having some conversation about it is a little out of date. I certainly don't feel in the ultra world that any men or women think that women are weaker, and certainly my male peers treat me with respect as an athlete, without having to consider my gender.” -Ellie Greenwood, ultra-runner and Team Clif Bar athlete

"I don't think we are past the 'run like a girl' stereotype. Look at the women in this video who belittle themselves showing how to run, throw, and fight like a girl. It would have been powerful for these women to say how they felt after they realized that they played into the stereotype. I mean, be honest, how many people watching this video would have done the same thing? I think this is an empowering video and it isn't telling people how to 'get your bikini body.' It's telling women to stop perpetuating stereotypes. I like it." -Kara Goucher, professional runner for Oiselle, Skechers, Nuun, and Soleus

“You have the power to be as good as you want to be. All it takes is belief in yourself that you can do it. Don't ever let someone tell you that you’re not good enough or that it's not the right activity for you. If you love it, believe in yourself, and most importantly have fun! Never give up, live your dreams.”–Alana Smith, Skateboard Street X Games silver medalist

"I love the campaign because it's changing the meaning of 'like a girl' to being a positive thing. Being a professional dirt bike racer I hear 'you ride like a girl' all the time. Growing up when I would hear that I always thought I was doing something wrong, but then I realized I do ride like a girl! In dirt bike riding there is a difference between a man and a woman's riding style, but it doesn't mean we can't accomplish anything that they can. I am making a living at it and accomplishing a lot of things that guys dream about! If I didn't ride like a girl, I wouldn't have won an X Games Gold medal or all my championships. I love being a girl, I love being a winner!" Kacy Martinez, X Games Moto X Enduro X gold medalist

In case you missed it, check out the video below and let us know what you think in the comments below or by tweeting us @Shape_Magazine.

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