I really love the Always #LikeAGirl ad campaign. I have written about the past installments in the series before and I really do believe that they bring up some great points about how hard it can be to be a girl in our society.
The main objective, in my opinion, of these ads is to make the world rethink the sexist notions that we put onto girls and women. In their “Unstoppable” ad spot, they did this really well. They had real girls talking honestly about their experiences of being told they couldn’t do something because of their gender. They explore the limitations society has placed on them and ultimately break them down—both metaphorically and literally.
But I think the latest ad, “Girl Emojis” has missed the mark for one main reason—while Always shows us an ethnically diverse of group of girls, every single girl is stereotypical beautiful, reinforcing the Beauty Myth.
(If you are unfamiliar with the Beauty Myth—written by Naomi Wolf—the basic idea is that as women have gained more social power, we are expected more and more to adhere to the standards of physical beauty that are set out for us.)
Every single girl in the ad is slim, with beautifully styled hair and “fashionable” clothes and it just rubs me the wrong way.
The ad itself is about the lack of representative emojis for girls. Sure, there are girls painting their nails, getting haircuts, dancing and getting married, but where are athletic or career-driven female emojis, Always asks?
“I’ve got rock climbing, biking, playing basketball. None of the girls are doing this,” one girl says before staring blankly at the screen.
“Girls love emojis but there aren’t enough emojis to say what girls do. That’s just how things are,” another resignedly states.
I get it—there are so many ways that woman and girls are displaced in our world. But I guess for me, getting more female-centric emojis isn’t something I worry about. And when an ad’s sole purpose is meant to build up girls and give them the strength to overcome these injustices—although I wouldn’t necessarily call the emoji situation an injustice—it’s painful to see the same ad fall victim to the exact thing it’s meant to fight against.
We need to tech our daughters that it’s okay to not look like the celebrities, models and actors they see on a daily basis, ideally by showing them what real women and girls look like. I think Always had a great opportunity to do that and they really missed the mark.
Sure they show us a few girls with braces, a couple more sporty girls and a very ethnically diverse group of girls. But each and every one of these girls embodies the conventional beauty standards most of us have struggled with our whole lives.
“I want every girl to grow up knowing that she is capable of everything,” one of the girls says. The silent caveat? You’ll need to be super pretty and have great hair to do it.