If you tell Lauren Greenfield that she runs or fights or talks "like a girl," she'll probably say thank you. After all, she is responsible for the fact that over 13 million people are now reconsidering what that phrase really means.
Commissioned by Always to investigate our negative connotations with the expression, the director, who brought audiences 2012's Queen of Versailles, produced an ad campaign that has sparked a national conversation on female empowerment and self-esteem.
The result is a social media movement that aims to redefine what it means to do something "like a girl."
The campaign finds Greenfield on set and asking men, women, and boys to act out running, fighting, and hitting "like a girl." The caricatured responses reinforce a stereotype that says girls are weaker and less determined than boys are.
When Greenfield prompts young girls to demonstrate the same actions, reactions are breathtaking.
Greenfield told ABC News that she was "really proud to be part of" the project.
"One of the things that Always was interested in looking into is how girls deal with the confidence crisis that happens around puberty. Everyone knows that 'crying like a girl' or 'running like a girl' isn't a compliment, but no one takes the off-the-cuff remark too seriously or considers its damage," she said.
Reflecting on the emotional impact the video has had on men and women across the country, Greenfield emphasized her own reaction to the video.
"We had no idea what people would do when asked these questions," Greenfield said. "It was amazing and moving and surprising to hear their responses. ...It made us realize how deep and ingrained the stereotypes were, but also people's desire to change them. Consciousness about what we take for granted is the first step to change and I hope this spotlight on what is thought of as a trivial remark will create a more empowering conversation for the next generation."
Always hopes to keep the conversation going and reclaim the maligned expression in the process. The Proctor and Gamble brand is inviting girls and women around the world to share what they do #LikeaGirl.
"'Like a Girl' should never be used as an insult," Greenfield said. "It means being strong, talented and downright amazing."
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- Lauren Greenfield