I also have to say that everyone I know who has seen it has told me that the little ballerina with the hammer bears a striking resemblance to my younger daughter, Fiona. But that isn't the only reason I like it. Like a few breakthrough ads before it, this video pushes not only a product or a reason to buy a product, but an idea. The idea is that we need to radically alter our perception of half the planet's population. No biggie, right?
The "more than a princess" tag is as important as the very notion of girls getting into building. The idea that girls can do more than play house, decorate a house, or maintain a house has been part of our culture for a while now, but there has not been an accompanying shift in our expectations for generations of girls. What I am really hoping for, in the not too distant future, is a much more fluid idea of what girls and boys are good at or suited to. The best thing about this commercial is that it shows that you can wear a tiara and swing a hammer-- you don't have to choose.
Though I have noted in these very pages that the idea of "doing it all" has poisoned the well for generations of women, it is simply because such an unreasonable expectation increases pressure on women to try to be too many things at once. Over and over again, we see that trying to be everything to everyone is a plan doomed to failure because it doesn't allow women to feel comfortable making choices and setting priorities. One of the beauties of this ad is that it pictures a much different kind of "doing it all." The ballerina and the rock star have balance-- they have the tools and the tulle-- which will make for a well-rounded, high functioning life.
Another key element of the ad is that it shows the girls building things their own way, not simply imitating things boys build. I would argue that one of the reasons women have become so miserable in the workplace today is that we have tried to work like men-- to play their game, on their field, so to speak. At first, of course, they were the only game and field in town, but by now, we should be developing our own models of what a workday looks like and how the workplace should function. Maybe the girls who are encouraged to see the possibilities for many kinds activities and occupations will have an easier time setting their own terms for success in the occupations they choose. It's a lot of pressure to put on one idea from one advertisement for one toy company, but marketing is all about dreams, right? And for my girls, and all the others, I say, let's dream big!