When women are told that they “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl” or “throw like a girl” they are being shamed. They are being discouraged from using their bodies. All of these are physical actions, and all of these phrases are designed to get them to stop. Girls are actively discouraged from exercising in “boy” ways.
We are allowed to walk, or skip, or do yoga, or water aerobics. These are seen as suitable activities for girls. “Boy” sports are off the radar for us. We are strongly discouraged or even banned from playing football, for instance. It is still unusual for women to play in team sports such as baseball or basketball – and those who do are seen as “butch” – translation, no longer female.
Why do we have to trade femininity for hard exercise? Why are women not allowed to “roughhouse”? A little girl who plays rough is called a “tomboy”. The fact that “boy” is in the term indicates that she isn’t seen as a girl. The fact that there is a special term for it is an indicator that it is seen as something unusual – and thus something to be discouraged.
We are shamed into being dainty when we exercise, if we are allowed to exercise at all.
Then, because we don’t exercise enough, we get overweight and then we get shamed for that too. It is a lose-lose situation.
Of course we run, fight, and throw like girls. We are girls. But what do these terms mean?
It is time to redefine these terms, and take back the playground and the gym. It is time to take “run like a girl” as a complement. We need to start fighting like girls, and start standing up for our right to exercise however we feel we need to.
Sure, we can still run, and do yoga, and play hopscotch. And we can also climb trees and throw rocks and climb mountains. Let each girl and woman exercise however she wants, not limited by society. Let us move however we need to keep our bodies and brains strong.