It’s become a tradition for engineering toy brand GoldieBlox to release an ad that celebrates women who’ve made a mark over the course of the year.
Now, 2017 is far from over, but the brand’s new “Fast Forward Girls” ad is a bright and galvanizing shout-out to those who’ve made waves in just the past six months.
“Girls can’t run the world until someone shows them how,” it begins. “They need a role model who inspires them to #BeLikeHer.”
The ad is a rolling series of magical moments in sports, politics and pop culture, featuring girls—including YouTube celebs JillianTubeHD and Heaven King—dressed like the fresh array of icons this year has offered them.
Recognized figures include Serena Williams—who won a tennis Grand Slam while pregnant—Hillary Clinton; Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, the engineers and mathematicians that inspired the film Hidden Figures; the female cast of the Ghostbusters remake; Princess Leia (who “lives on as the ultimate princess and general” following the passing of Carrie Fisher, the ad declares); and Simone Biles, who’s won the most medals of any American gymnast in history.
And because, in 2017, everything is a political statement, the ad is also decked with girls carrying signs and marching in pussyhats, a wink to the women who marched following the presidential inauguration.
Early this year, a study found that girls as young as 6 believe men are inherently more talented and intelligent than women, making them less likely to pursue ambitious paths or new activities.
GoldieBlox, founded by game developer Debbie Sterling, has been committed to working against this from its conception in 2012. In 2013, it adapted the Beastie Boys song “Girls” in its debut ad “Princess Machine,” featuring three girls who wander away from a frilly TV show to build a massive Rube Goldberg machine. (The Beastie Boys would later sue for copyright infringement.)
“Kids want to be what they can see,” says Sterling in a statement. “For me, that person is my grandmother Sterling Sturtevant. She was an art director for Disney and Charles Schulz in the 1950s, a time when very few women had senior roles in animation.”
Building on this theme, the ad invites people to share inspiring figures with the hashtag #BeLikeHer. It was directed by Mimi Cave and produced in-house.
And while not everyone in it is a real person, it does underscore the importance of giving kids diverse public figures they can project themselves onto without fear of reproach. Many of the women lifted up in “Fast Forward Girls” have experienced harsh public treatment unrelated to their merits, from the body-shaming that pursues Serena Williams, to Leslie Jones’ abuse on Twitter … to the curious, and complicated, fact that Hillary Clinton remains less popular than Donald Trump.
The kind of debasement that pursues women in high places—or anywhere, really—can addle the mind. But normalizing ambition among girls leaves us feeling hopeful for a future in which our best defense to misogyny isn’t advertising … or, more typically, good-natured wit.
Fisher, the actress who portrayed Princess Leia, was, upon her death last year, eulogized by thousands of women inexplicably tweeting, “She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.”
It was a tribute to her sly rendition of how George Lucas refused to let her wear a bra under her flowing white dress … though he didn’t seem to mind bras all that much when Leia became Jabba the Hutt’s slave.