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Yes, I Do Throw Like a Girl

Blogger: Abbie Clary, Vice President, Central Region Director, Health | Chicago, IL, USA
June 27, 2014

I was a serious 12” fast pitch softball player once. All-area, all-star, traveling teams, you name it. So I have a particular reaction to the saying, “You throw like a girl.” I have many a conversation in my house with my husband and sons that it is not appropriate to say “He just screamed like a little girl!” or “You throw/run/jump/dance/(insert word here) like a girl,” because when said, it is likely meant to belittle. And I won’t have any of that…

My husband recently sent me a tweet and he stated “@AbigailClary throws like a girl.” Of course, I clicked on the link in the tweet immediately so I could provide a snarky reply to my whopping audience of 250 followers, declaring him the enemy. 

To my surprise, the link led to a video (see above) showing how very young girls react to being asked to throw/run/fight like a girl. It’s wonderful; their reaction is totally different than the adult assumption. They throw hard, they run fast, and they fight like crazy. For them, it doesn’t register as an insult at all. If a girl can throw well, then throwing like a girl must mean throwing well. Nothing embarrassing about that.

It was a moment of awakening for me. How do we make sure that young girls keep that confidence and moxy forever? And how do I make sure I keep mine? (Because believe me, my confidence is challenged by the minute.)

I also recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that talked about the struggle to disassociate the B-word—either “bossy” or that other pesky B-word—from a girl or woman with strong leadership characteristics. The article asked, how to do we nurture those skills for our future leaders and make “bossy” become “better”? 

It is a fact that we must have strong men AND women leaders to make it all work. Our economic growth depends on them both. So how do we mentor all of our children to change their perspective and flip that age-old saying on its head? The answer to this will help me raise my young daughter, whom some might call “bossy,” to be a leader in the world and to know how cool it is to be a girl with confidence and opinions.

I do know we can start with ourselves. If we are going to level the playing field for our daughters, we have to start with encouragement for the traits that will get them there, and celebrate them in ourselves as well. As the Fast Company blog states “being like a girl, or being a girl, should be impossible to use as an insult.” Next time my son says, “Mom, you ______ like a girl,” I will definitely say thank you. 

So, how do we make sure doing something “like a girl” means something amazing? We have to live it and believe it.


​Video courtesy of YouTube: Always

Reader Comments (41)

Girl Power!




I love it!  #likeagirl

I love this so much. Especially since I was a kid that loved sports and video games. That's right, high score on Star Fox, #likeagirl!

In one of my own bizarre parental experiments, I signed my daughter up for UIC baseball camp with her brothers at age 6 or 7 as "Mo." She had short hair and was sometimes called a boy at the time. We were talking about it last summer, and her brothers said, "Yeah, remember when the some of the kids said, 'I don't wanna' catch with Mo, he throws like a girl!" They didn't tell me that at the time, but we all got a laugh out of it several years later. She survived the experiment and is doing fine now- plays some mean defense in water polo but still does need to work on her shot! #likeagirl

So true! Thanks for this. You write like a.........really clear headed intelligent person!

I love that you signed "Mo" up for baseball and she survived, hopefully better for it. My daughter has red curly hair and you can't miss her in the crowd. I think I would be busted. Will have to find other means for directing the little girl attitude toward greatness. :)

LOVE. This. Thank you. I will definitely watch and share that video, and your blog post. 

Two sorta kinda related things--

1) I really enjoyed watching Jessica Mendoza reporting from the field at the College World Series. She's a former Olympic gold and silver medalist in softball and someone shared a tweet of her in the batting cage at CWS. She nailed it every single time. In other words, she bats like a girl. 

2) Out of all the breast cancer blah blah/marketing crap that's out there, the one thing I actually like and  wear is the hoodie that says "Fight Like a Girl." Oh hell yeah.

Ha ha! That's great. 

Jackie, Damn right fight like a girl! Great hoodie for sure. Thanks for the comments and for sharing with your friends!

This. Is. Amazing.  Great post! #likeagirl

Nice blog, Abbie, and thanks for embedding the video.  I couldn't help but think about my daughter as I read the blog, and in fact, I just finished my newest blog to post around 10 July in which I reference my daughter in her first "big girl" job. [Her words.] Strong leaders are is what we need; thanks for being one at HDR.

I was softball super star too and used to revel in how well I could throw, bat, and run like a girl.  We were recently back in our hometown for the rodeo and I took great pleasure in seeing the girls do a consistently better job than the boys in all the kids events.  They were steady, focused and determined and they did an awesome job.  That's the #likeagirl I'm teaching my daughter.

I can relate as I grew up involved in sports and was fortunate to be on some successful teams so I am proud of how #likeagirl I am!  I now have two sons so am outnumbered in my house 3-1 and it makes me crazy when they comment with anything …#likeagirl or #dontbesuchagirl.  Certainly nothing wrong with doing anything #likeagirl!  Great post!

Thank you for this moving post! When I was 15, I thought "like a girl" was a terrible thing because of how some things done "like a girl" didn't work and hurt people.  27 years later, I embrace the "girl" in me.  Yes, I too was in sports AND ballet.  I played hard, worked hard and challenged the boys at math and science - and won, sometimes.  But more importantly, I learned to genuinely understand and communicate on someone else's terms - I learned about respecting myself and others.  I am teaching my son this principle that transcends gender, color, intellect, religion and all things that seek to divide us as a world community.  As for my son?  He sings "like a boy" - beautiful!

Abbie - Your blog is a tribute to all the girls of HDR who apply themselves fully to every task at hand and who do a great job.

From someone who can't throw or bowl, but can make a great contribution to a team.


Awesome post, Abbie! What an inspiring reminder for women to own our differences and celebrate them. Lead like a girl, engineer like a girl, plan like a girl, design like a girl. Go team!

Love this post!!  I saw this video on facebook and shared it immediately.  Having an 11 year old girl who plays softball and rides horses, I never want her to feel that "throwing like a girl" or "riding like a girl" is anything but spectacular!

Thanks for this.  I have raised two daughters who have become successful women and great mothers.  One is a Human Factors Engineer in medical equipment and the other a college professor.  I always challenged teachers and others who would say 'she can't do ________ because girls just aren't good at that'.  I believed then and now that girls/women can and will be as good as, or better than, men at almost all facets of life.  That is just one more stereotype that should be done away with.


This rings so true, although I didn't do sports until college. My brother was doted on for athletics and it wasn't until I got on my own that I discovered how strong I was - running, cycling, rowing and life. And now - I have a 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son. She is more of an engineer at heart than I am and can run fast. My son will grow up knowing that to run like a girl, is to run strong and fast. And both my kids will have the confidence to go the distance, no matter the course.

Thank you for sharing.  I too have had these same battles with my husband who comes from a family of all boys.  He didn't quite understand until my Dad showed him pictures of my "fighting days"; i.e. judo class/matches.  I think something finally clicked.  :-)  That and I think he realized I could kill him 5 different ways.  I am so glad girls today are finding "you X like a girl" a positive comment.

Love the blog Abbie.  This is a conversation my husband and I have often with my 14 year old daughter.  We need leaders of both genders in our society and our children should be encouraged in that direction.  Thanks for the article!

Great blog Abbie,

I have a t-shirt that says "ski like a girl" and every time we go skiing I make sure to wear it at least once on the slopes!!! Girls Rock!

There's a good Mythbusters debunk on this.  When each was forced to use their off hand (left, for right-handed people), girls actually threw more accurately than boys.  All about being taught how and repeating a few thousand times.  I have five daughters, and the oldest two play softball (others might take it up later).  The oldest is also a runner, and she has a friend with an awesome t-shirt:  "Yeah, I KNOW I run like a girl.  Try to keep up."

This made me happy. Thanks for writing/posting. I think for those of us who grew up as (and/or currently are) athletes, it has always felt like a major insult. And by the way, I wear that other pesky B-word like a badge of honor. ;)

I love this. As one of six daughters, my parents encouraged my sisters and I to be anything and do anything we wanted - to take a stand for what we believe and own our personalities. The goal was always to reach our highest potential regardless of gender. When my sixth sister was born, my dad was asked if he wished it had been a son (another common scenario that deserves a video such as this). He just looked at the person and smiled and said, "It doesn't get any better than this." #likeagirl

Abbie, Really enjoyed your post and perspective and appreciate the reminder that "the struggle to disassociate the B-word" is one that all females with strong opinions and/or leadership responsibilities encounter.

Thanks for keeping it real!

p.s.... I assume you are fan of Sheryl Sandberg :)

I wish I could run like a girl….one of the reasons I fell in love with my wife because she could throw like girl and debate strategies in various sports with me and my guy friends…my wife was an athlete as well and we raised our first born, our daughter to be strong in whatever she pursued…she was a dance major and I tell my two boys who both played college lacrosse that she is more athletic than them.

I am going to share your post with my niece who is going through the typical drama of which we call teenage life. It's so easy for the words to come out of someone's mouth, no one really thinks about the effect of the words unless your the person standing on the other side. This is a great motivator for any female and I'm proud to share it. Where can I find a hoodie that says "Fight Like A Girl", I must have!!

Abbie - So glad to see this conversation here, this is awesome! Leaders represent and reflect those they are leading; we need strong, confident, and insightful leaders across the board. Thanks for being one of ours.

This is a related and pretty powerful video:

 Echo... "Girl Power!"

My last post,, I love this commercial.

Wow, thanks so much for posting this.  The message is something I've pointed out over and over in the last few years whenever I've heard someone use, " a girl" as an insult.  I started pointing this out to my daughter years ago, and now to my grand daughter.  Let's keep it going.

Elizabeth Belanger


Thanks for sharing this. We definitely don't think about it because we are immersed in a world of inappropriate comments that we see everyday that it has became a norm. All we need is someone to pull us back and take a second look to be aware of issues like this. Great article to share around!

Being a very competitive athlete (20 years ago) the "like a girl" comment has grated on my last nerve for years! Kudos to you for expressing so well what I have always felt!

This was excellent. Thank you for posting this.

I enjoyed your article and have given a lot of thought to the subject matter over the years.  I have been a parent for almost 18 years and have both girls and boys in my house.  I have never gone for the notion that my girls need to prove that they can do everything that we stereotypically associate with being a boy in order for them to feel empowered.  My wife and I have tried to do the exact opposite!  The fact is my girls are very different from my boys and this is a beautiful thing.  We teach them that EQUALITY does NOT equal SAME.  The best example I can think of to illustrate this is the WNBA vs. NBA.  Both are basketball leagues.  One league demonstrates finesse in the mechanics and techniques of the game and great team work. The other demonstrates speed, raw athleticism, and individual strengths. I'll let the reader decide which is which.  But in both leagues the game is played at a high level and at the same time very very differently from the other.  When one WNBA team plays another WNBA team there is a competitive game and vice versa for the NBA.  If you matched any WNBA team vs. any NBA team what would the results be?  The point is that although both can play a beautiful game of basketball they do it much differently.  And it is the differences, not the sameness, that our daughters should be taught to embrace.  It's the differences that make them beautiful, confident, and unique girls!

Abbie asked the question, "how do we make sure doing something “like a girl” means something amazing?".  Simple. Tell our daughters they are amazing and beautiful creatures. Teach them that being confident and empowered has nothing to do with being the same as or better than a boy and everything to do with being a girl.


Thanks for writing this blog (it ROCKS!!!) and throwing like a girl!



N, you should have written this blog, so well said! Love your examples. And it could not be more true that EQUAL doesn't mean the SAME. This is a great point and one that we all can apply with raising kids as well as in our own lives. If everyone understood that simple statement at its core, things could be radically different. Thanks so much for the comments and obviously being one amazing parent!


Thanks for the great paragraph.  I enjoyed what you wrote greatly.  Your examples are spot on.  Let women embrace what they want in this world whether it be sports, business, or etc.  I  agree with Abby that you should have written this article.

Just had a chance to read this excellent blog post!  I've played soccer my entire life and of course heard from time-to-time that I "kick like a girl."  My mom instilled in me to take that as a compliment and reply with a "thank you!" and I love her for doing that.

I now have two little girls of my own and my almost three-year-old inevitably gets called "bossy" sometimes.  I'm a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg's "ban bossy campaign" so when I hear someone refer to my daughter as bossy, then I just smile back and say she's my future leader!


Thanks for your thoughts, this is so right on! I saw this on fb and shared it a few weeks ago. So I was happy, but not all that surprised, to see it as part of your blog. My friends often ponder raising their girls to be confident, knowing that it's their own self trust will help them in every way in life...friendships, boys, applying themselves, making decisions and good choices, working hard, giving it all they have, loving life.....leading to adulthood where they will have options and open doors to pursue their dreams and passions. 

The opportunity to work alongside #girlslikeyou, and all the other amazing people and professionals, brought me to HDR. Happy to be in the Central Region and going at it everyday #likeagirl!


Hello Abbie,

I never did get around to writing a reply to you a month ago when I first read your blog or even the second time around as I just did not know where to begin. My emotions welled up in me - thoughts streaming through me from my own childhood and from my children and their friends growing up. I had seen the YouTube on FB before reading your blog and had discussed it with my daughter and even talked about it with a cashier in a Whole Foods Market one day - telling her she had to watch it. We were both teary eyed from just discussing the video - site unseen to her as of yet. I was a lucky girl - growing up in multiple cities that offered sports to girls before Title 9. And I played and competed competitively from 2nd grade on through high school. Sports certainly helped me get through times in which girls were expected to do more "girly" things of which I had little interest at the time. Both our kids (a daughter and a son) had even more sports opportunities growing up and our daughter, even more than our son, took advantage of the times and being very athletic, loved playing and competing, and excelled at sports from gymnastics, to soccer, swimming/water polo, to softball and now track cycling. What they both learned along the way, was not only how to play a sport, but how to work as a team, to rely on each other and to love the feeling of camaraderie, the outdoors and being fit. Our daughter took on playing goalie in soccer and catcher in softball for many of the years that she played both sports. I once asked her how she did it, with both positions making huge contributions to winning or losing for the team. And she told me that it takes a team - and that they are all responsible for the wins and the losses together. I was amazed at her maturity at such a young age at the time. I have loved watching my daughter #kick like a girl, #throw like a girl, #swim like a girl, #make a goal or a hit like a girl and now #ride like a girl/woman over the years. I continue to celebrate it and support her and all other girls in their dreams and pursuits - at work and at play. and I have to say, I really love the fact that I am still out there #walking or hiking like a girl, #spinning or riding like a girl and #weightlifting like a girl - and loving every minute of it! And if you want to see a picture of our daughter from this past Sunday, #standing on a podium like a girl (with some other pretty amazing women) - go to this site for the USA women's track cycling team photo on the podium (our daughter is on the left):

And I look forward to continuing to mentor younger girls/women (and boys/men) - and celebrating their accomplishments such as #running like a girl, #throwing like a girl and all of the rest of the wonderful things a girl can do with her body and mind!

Thanks for the great post!

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