Nike’s new powerful ad focuses on unfair criticism female athletes constantly receive


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Serena Williams is one of the most impactful female athletes.

Sierra Rozen, Viewpoints Editor

“If we show emotion, we’re dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged.”

The effect that these inspirational words have as videos of iconic female athletes flash through is undescribable. These are not just female athletes.

They have made history, defied the norms, proved their critics wrong and most importantly, they haven’t let the naysayers discourage them. Instead, they have used their criticism to make themselves stronger.

The best example of this is the woman that Nike commissioned to narrate the ad: none other than Serena Williams herself. Throughout her career, Williams has garnered much criticism for the way she acts on the tennis court.

Most of these incidents occur because the media tends to promote the “angry black woman” narrative when reporting on Williams’ emotional on-court moments. Though Williams has been seen losing her temper on the court, it is almost certain that if a man acted like this, no one would bat an eye.

The point is, female athletes have always been held to an unfair standard compared to male athletes. As the ad points out, showing emotion during a game is seen as a weakness instead of a strength.

They don’t realize how strong most female athletes have to be throughout all aspects of their life. Again, take Williams as an example. When she gave birth to her first daughter back in September of 2017, she almost died from a blood clot.

Jump to 2018, and she’s right back on the court. Does the media comment on this? No. Instead, they choose to focus on the catsuit she wore because of this complication.

Or look at Simone Biles, an award winning gymnast who was also featured in the ad, who called out the very industry she works in for covering up her sexual abuse. Instead of being afraid, she took a chance and stood up to her oppressors while risking her career.

All the things that men are celebrated for (aggressiveness, passion, standing up for what they believe in) are things that are discouraged in female athletes.

Instead of focusing on the negatives of these implications, Nike chose to celebrate what these women have done to combat these stereotypes. Instead of resenting being called crazy, they turn it around and remind women to dream crazier, especially  in the clip where the woman runner keeps running in the marathon, despite officials trying to hold her back.

This sentiment does not only apply to female athletes, it applies to women as a whole. These things happen to women no matter what occupation they are in. Besides, before they are athletes, they are first and foremost, women.

In a time when it seems like a new news story about women being degraded or put down pops up almost everyday, it is heartening to see a big brand like Nike standing behind women and empowering  us to reach for more.

Now more than ever, we need more moments like this. Moments that celebrate the power of women. Moments that acknowledge female achievement. And, most importantly, moments that encourage female dreams to flourish.