Let me tell you a story

It’s National Tell a Story day and though that may feel like an artificial construct does that really matter? Isn’t every day a great day to tell or hear a story? Stories are the magical fairy dust in our lives, they’re a mystical golden chain that threads through who we are, everything we’ve done and the adventures that we’ve been on. They capture our imagination and our hearts and that’s why they’re so powerful.

Storytelling is a fundamental human activity. We create and share stories with each other every day. We carry our own story inside us and can reach in and share an excerpt at any time. The story we carry with us shapes the decisions we make, or don’t make and the path that we choose.

Stories provide a shared narrative for us too, as a community, whatever that community might be. The common folklore that describes and defines our culture and identity.

The art of a good story is that it reaches us emotionally, it makes us think and then take action. The measure is that it’s one that people want to be part of, even if that’s only to share it. The art of oral history might not be as formalised or revered as it once was but our natural human instinct to share will always prevail. We’re all creators. And increasingly we’re all curators. Whether deliberately or instinctively, we read, watch, see and absorb content and we pass it on. We retweet, we share, we copy links into email and text messages. We find things that will touch the hearts of our friends, we see photos that will make our family smile, we see photos that remind us of the people we love and we hit send.

Many times I’ve heard people bemoan social media as being the death of communication, toxic to conversation, a dark, deadly negative place. It doesn’t have to be. It can be a place for our stories to spread their wings and fly.

#LikeAGirl

 

Watching the explosion of the #alsicebucketchallenge (which I’ll come back to in a blog post soon)  has made me ponder on recent social media campaigns. By far the most thought provoking for me has been #LikeAGirl which was launched by Always.

Though not a charity or technically seen as a ‘campaigning’ activity because it was launched by a feminine products brand, it is relevant, powerful and hits a incredibly raw emotional nerve.  

#likeagirl

After contrasting post-puberty females’ and males’ stereotypes associated with the phrase “Like a girl”, with younger girls’ more positive interpretations, the video dissects the socialisation of women to feel weak as a norm. Frightening and illuminating stuff.

Surely it makes you ask, is this how your sisters, daughters, nieces feel?

I think what I found most shocking about this is not only has this messaging, this misogyny, been accepted into the lexicon of society but into the thinking of women and perhaps most frighteningly, girls.

I found myself reflecting on my own use of language and though I consider myself a feminist I know that I too am guilty, occasionally of using such phrases as “You big girl!” as a teasing but undoubtedly derogatory term. I tried to comfort myself that the phrase is short hand for ‘You big girl’s blouse!’ but it is cold comfort…

I have subsequently promised myself and women everywhere never to use any such term as derogatory. I know that as a woman I have a responsibility to support, protect and champion women whenever I can. (Men too, I’m not sexist, but watch the video.) I believe that we all do.

I’m delighted that the empowering message of this video propelled it the number one most viral video the first week it was released. And that between June 26 and July 7 #LikeAGirl garnered 101,679 posts/shares. Now that’s how to do social media #LikeAGirl

I’m also delighted that it struck such an emotional chord; that many girls, women and men mention crying when they watched it. But is that enough? 

Can we all challenge ourselves to make sure we use the phrase ‘like a girl’ in an empowering, positive, encouraging and inspirational manner?