How Meghan Markle Shook the Advertising World as a Young Girl With Letter Challenging Gender Roles
Before she was a royal-to-be, Meghan Markle penned a letter that would have a lasting impact in the advertising world and drew national attention — when she was only in grade school.
As a young girl, Markle was watching television in a classroom with other students when a commercial for Ivory dishwasher soap proclaimed that "women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans."
She took issue with the 'sexist' phrasing, and ultimately decided to do something about it, especially after two male classmates at the time joked about how women “belong” in the kitchen.
"I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt," Markle said in a 2015 speech at the UN on International Women's Day. "It just wasn't right and something needed to be done."
Her father inspired her to let her voice be heard.
"He encouraged me to write letters, so I did — to the most powerful people I could think of,” she said in the speech.
Inspired by a poster in her bedroom of Rosie the Riveter and the "We can do it!" mantra, the young Markle wrote a letter to the soap's manufacturer, Procter & Gamble; civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred; then-first lady Hillary Clinton and Nick News anchor Linda Ellerbee.
After receiving the letter, Ellerbee sent a camera crew to meet her. And later the commercial was changed to say "people" and not “women.”
“People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” the ad said in its updated version.
Markle spoke about her activism on Nick News in 1993.
"I don’t think it is right for kids to grow up thinking that mom does everything,” Markle said in the episode. “If you see something that you don’t like or offended by on television or any other place, write letters and send them to the right people and you can really make a difference, not just for yourself but for lots of other people.”
Ellerbee, who provided the footage to Inside Edition, isn't surprised that Markle continues to be voice for women all over the world.
"It was absolutely clear that this young woman was strong in her beliefs,” she told Inside Edition. “It didn’t matter that she was 11 years old. She believed in women and she believed in her own power and wasn’t afraid to reach out and say, ‘I want my power. I want my rights.'"