#LikeAGirl: 5 Female Empowerment Ads Are Shaking Up The Status Quo

by Jen Flanagan

As modern feminist principles suggest, there's definitely a ton of work that needs to be done in order to address gender inequality in our society.

Too often, women are depicted as frail and inadequate compared to men, and in order to make social progress, those stereotypes need to change.

So many different brands and companies are starting to recognize these issues, and in turn, have focused its attention on advertising that gives power and encouragement back to women and young girls.

The following five ad campaigns have positively portrayed women in the media, and addressed key gender equality issues.

1. #ActuallySheCan by Lo Loestrin Fe

How many times in the last year have you seen a woman write a tweet or Instagram caption with #Icant as an essential hashtag?

Most likely, it’s been too many times to count.

In response to this constant self-defeat, whether intentional or not, the #ActuallySheCan movement was born.

The campaign seeks to change what women believe about themselves.

Its mission statement explains the movement is:

For women who are strong, smart and driven. A movement for those who aren't afraid to toss out what they don't want to make room for what they do. Because we believe focusing on the positive things in your life means less drama, more karma.

Essentially, #ActuallySheCan strives to encourage Millennial women to achieve all of their personal and professional goals without hesitation or embarrassment.

The hope is this simple change of perspective will spark a long-term conversation about female empowerment and well-being.

Celebrities such as Lea Michele, Nina Dobrev and Lo Bosworth have even joined in on the conversation in order to create maximum impact.

2. #LikeAGirl by Always

The #LikeAGirl movement is aimed at the future generation of female leaders.

According to its campaign website, 72 percent of girls feel society limits them, especially during puberty.

This time of growth and change is an essential part of a girl’s life.

It's a time in which they shouldn't feel contained inside of a box of expected gender roles.

In the latest campaign video entitled, “Unstoppable,” girls are literally able to smash gender stereotypes that hold them back from fully achieving their dreams.

The girls write down words or phrases that are often associated with being a girl — emotional, bossy, slow, weak, ugly and unworthy make the list — onto boxes.

They are then invited to kick and smash them until they've fallen apart.

It’s a beautiful metaphor that we hope will turn into a reality for our nation’s incredible girls.

3. Ban Bossy by Lean In and Girl Scouts

Just like the #LikeAGirl campaign strives to help girls know their worth before becoming women, the Ban Bossy campaign encourages people to think about what they mean when they call girls bossy.

All too often, young boys are told they are assertive and driven when they exhibit leadership skills, while young girls are called bossy or “too tough.”

This discourages them from being the bright and ambitious innovators they can be.

Ban Bossy aims to change that by encouraging girls to lead, giving them the skills they need to do so, and motivating them to change the world.

The movement has been brought to life by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of Lean In, which gives women the support they need to take charge in the workplace, despite gender inequality.

4. Not Sorry by Pantene 

Many women are guilty of over-apologizing for almost everything, whether it’s before they want to ask a valid question, or after someone else bumps into them.

Similarly to the Ban Bossy campaign, this movement strives to remind women what they have to say is important, and that speaking up and being assertive is an admirable trait.

In the video advertisement for the Not Sorry campaign, several women are pictured apologizing for things they shouldn’t need to feel sorry for, such as alerting a boss about a meeting or passing off a child to his father for a moment.

After viewers realize how often women tend to apologize without realizing it, the same women are shown again.

This time, they state exactly what they need to say, unapologetically taking charge and addressing what needs to be said. #SorryNotSorry.

5. This Girl Can by Sport England

After its promotional video went viral, Sport England received a lot of buzz when it comes to women in sports.

With incredible female athletes such as Serena Williams and Alex Morgan in our midst, women should feel empowered to succeed in athletics.

But too often, women are afraid to exercise, due to fear of judgment.

The difference between this campaign and others that focus on female physical activity is that the girls and women in this video actually jiggle and get sweaty while they work out.

This gives viewers a more positive image of health and wellness, where women don’t need to worry about “already being in shape” or looking glamorous before hitting the gym.

It seeks to eliminate the fear of not feeling “good enough,” and instead encourages women to feel like the badass vixens they're meant to be. Female-based advertising that encourages messages of empowerment and confidence will only continue to benefit our society.

Since we interact with media so often, it only makes sense these issues and topics will make their way into our advertising.

Their carefully selected topics and execution help to start necessary conversations about gender inequality, and the strides we need to continue to make for women.