Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nike Women: Celebrating Arab Athletes

Another great ad about kickass women! This time from Nike, showing off several badass Arab female athletes.

What I love about many of the Nike Women ads is how they show the amazing strength of these athletes-- both physical and emotional -- as they push themselves to perform better. It's not a story we see very often when we look at the sports news. It's a sad fact that no matter where you live, women's sports are not valued anywhere near men's. And so it shouldn't be a surprise when girls' participation is low, despite the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of sports on improving self-esteem, school performance, and socialization in girls, as well as the improvements in physical and mental health.

Sure, we see more stories about women in sports during the Olympics, but every two years is a long time to wait for more inspiration. So, I kinda look forward to these advertisements, even though I am a little iffy on corporations co-opting the themes of women's empowerment.

More importantly, this ad addresses the cultural biases that may keep many Arab girls from engaging in sports by showing young women running or skateboarding in defiance of the disapproving looks from people they encounter on the street. Sometimes the hardest part of exercising is simply getting out the door. This ad asks, "What will they say about you?" And then answers with "they'll say you're strong. That you can't be stopped. That you always find a way." These are the messages I want every young woman athlete to hear and internalize.

Plus, the Nike ads use actual athletes! In this video you'll see:

Amal Murad, first female Emirati parkour coach
Arifa Bseiso, first Jordanian female boxer
Ines Boubakri, first female Tunisian fencing Olympic bronze medal winner
Zahra Lari, first female Emirati figure skater

To add more amazing women to mix, the narrator is Fatima Al-Banawi, a Saudi actor, and there's a cameo by Balqees Fathi, a Saudi singer.

The entire video is beautiful. I've watched it about a dozen times today, and each time I get chills when I see these brilliant, brave, and strong women. More like this, please!

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