Stop Using ‘Play Like a Girl’ as an Insult & Celebrate Instead

I don’t know when the phrase “like a girl” became an insult. We’ve all heard things like:

  • “Wow, you run like a girl.”
  • “Ha, she totally fights like a girl.”
  • “Dude, you throw like a girl.”

Like it or not, it’s an expression that carries some nasty baggage. But we don’t need to buy into the notion that “like a girl” means physically incompetent. The viral campaign #likeagirl from Always made it clear that people are ready to get rid of the negativity associated with the phrase and turn “like a girl” into a shout of empowerment.

But here’s something to think about. Girls under 12 just don’t carry that negative “like a girl” baggage. Check out this “social experiment” to see what I mean.

Sam Gordon

Sam Gordon

Watch 10-year-old wonderkid Samantha ‘Sam’ Gordon totally own the football field in the boys’ league she plays in or run circles around them at her summer training camp.

And this is so not about a girl beating the boys. This is about a girl moving with confidence and not being held back by a tired stereotype.

The confidence that comes from knowing how to move well — from being physically literate — benefits all kids, girls and boys both.

And it’s something they can develop from playing all sorts of different sports, even if they find sport challenging. It’s a confidence that comes, according to family psychologist Donna Wicks, from “…practice, mistakes, setback, recovery and finally mastery.”

And whether or not your kids go on to become professional athletes, the confidence they gain from moving well will serve them in good stead as they hit the identity-crises of their teenage years — when many kids drop out of sport because they’re so self-conscious — and well on into adulthood.

I’m so heartened by these young girls who don’t even know what the whole “like a girl” drama is about. If we keep encouraging them — and their brothers — to move and continue helping them to develop their physical literacy then hopefully (surely) these confident young women and men will run past these outmoded labels of “like a girl” or “like a boy” and leave them far behind in the dust.

Stephanie Rogers is a writer and wrote this when she was a regular contributor to Active for Life, a nonprofit organization committed to helping parents raise happy, healthy, physically literate kids. For more articles like this one, please visit

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