A lot of us parents of daughters fell in love with the #LikeAgirl campaign that the incredibly talented director, Lauren Greenfield, created for Always; and we weren't the only ones to take notice. Lauren recently won a Clio award for her work on this brilliant advertising campaign. Not only does this ad speak to young girls and teens about what they are capable of, it influences how boys view women and girls and shows them that girls are just as strong and capable as they are. This message was not lost on our awesome little Hatchlings* who viewed the campaign and had their own thoughts on the video.
We also had the chance to speak with Lauren about her ad and how we can empower our girls.
Lauren Greenfield: As parents, we are often swimming against a very strong tide of popular culture, peer pressure and media messages coming from television, advertising and the internet. Girls learn at an early age that their power and value as women comes from their bodies. How many times have we acknowledged a girl with "you are so cute" or "you look so pretty" or what "a beautiful dress." It is almost as though beauty is the prism through which a girl is "seen." We can start to teach girls that their value lies elsewhere by acknowledging their minds and achievements with the same enthusiasm and pride we use for boys.
I don't have the answer to this problem but what I have observed in the social experiment "like a girl," and in the work for my book Girl Culture, is that young girls are strong and uninhibited and self-expressed, and that a transformation occurs at puberty that makes them more vulnerable and insecure and focused on body image. That sad fact is also cause for hope in that it shows this development is cultural and social, and not inevitable. We can work together to change "like a girl" from weak, silly and inept, to an unassailable ability to play all out on every field.
LG: Advertisers have increasingly geared their marketing to younger and younger kids and, in doing so, often appeal to their desire to fit in and be popular. Perpetuating insecurity is an effective way to sell products to vulnerable young people. From makeup to fashion, to deodorant, girls buy products that "fix" their body problems. The most troubling residual effect is the increased focus on body image and the precocious sexualization of girls.
LG: I think that girls and women are ready and waiting for conversations of empowerment. When "like a girl" came out, millions of girls, women and fathers took back those words and transformed an insult into a rallying cry. By embracing the message of the spot, they undermined the power of an insidious put down — using the objective fact of one's gender as a denigrating barb — and made it a touchstone of empowerment. I have often focused my documentary work on the enormous power of advertising and what I have learned from the "like a girl" experience is that however much we might complain about advertising's negative influence, there is no better medium for change when the power of advertising is harnessed for good. I hope that other companies are moved by both the moral and commercial benefits of incorporating socially redeeming messages in their advertising campaigns and follow suit in creating conversation of empowerment.
Thanks so much to Lauren for answering our questions and for creating such an inspiring and empowering ad!
Lauren Greenfield joins SheKnows' Samantha Skey for a panel on "Femvertising: Women Demand More From Brands" on Oct. 2, 2014 at Advertising Week XI. Other panelists include Dove Real Beauty's Kathy O'Brien, Jessica Bennett from LeanIn.org, Pamela Grossman from Getty Images and Starcom MediaVest's Katie Ford. To learn more, visit Femvertising at Advertising Week.
*Hatch empowers kids (7-16) to use media and technology to express themselves in productive and positive ways. Emphasizing media literacy and digital storytelling, Hatch enables kids to produce content that’s responsible, thoughtful and represents their unique point of view.
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