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Being a tomboy: it's good.

Updated on November 17, 2010

I do not think that being a tomboy is a choice that any girl makes. She seems to be born androgynous, and that is just the way it is. I could not tell you whether there is scientific evidence to prove whether tomboyishness is a natural occurrence or whether it is nurtured, because I have not carried out any research. I have only my own experiences and observations to go on. But I noticed this - there rarely, if ever, seems to be a crossover from tomboy to girly-girl, or vice versa. And I have also noticed something else - that there are degrees of tomboyism.

I have always been a tomboy, but I have also always been a lady. I have never been a ladette, and I would like to emphasize the distinction here. A ladette is a female who drinks like a fish, and indulges in raucous and lewd behaviour and/or the removal of clothes in public. These behaviours do not represent the self-respecting tomboy.

I would classify the tomboy as someone who cannot really be bothered to do most, or all, of the following things:

  • shave legs
  • moisturise
  • make sure that hair is perfect all the time
  • apply make-up daily
  • buy smart-casual clothes to wear every day
  • learn to walk in heels
  • show any degree of femininity
  • wear shoes other than trainers
  • wear skirts or dresses
  • indulge in gossip

As I said, a tomboy does not need to avoid all of these things - she may enjoy one or two of them, as indeed I do.

The tomboy also has a list of things that she does like to do:

  • wear jeans
  • talk to boys who are her friends, and to whom she is not attracted
  • climb trees
  • do things that girls are not expected to be able to do, such as changing a wheel on a car
  • feel superior (quite wrongly) to girly-girls
  • surprise everyone by wearing feminine clothes and generally scrubbing up well for a special occasion
  • play rough games with kids
  • laugh loudly and not care if people stare when she does so
  • look down her nose at people

Obviously, I am purely describing myself here. Other tomboys will have their own list, if indeed they are the list making variety of tomboy. Quite obviously we are all individuals, and labels of any kind are really rather silly and unhelpful. Honestly, who cares whether or not I am a tomboy, because I am just me, and you are just you. Let's all just be friends.

But being a tomboy used to bother me a bit. When I was in my early teens I was mistaken for a boy many times. I think I used to get quite down about it, but never enough to try to change myself. I would see all the other girls with perfect hair at school, watch them meeting up with the boys from the boys' school, marvel at their powers of flirting. I would be jealous, jealous as hell, and I would know that I never had a chance of attracting any admirers because the only difference between me and the boys was that I had to wear a skirt to school. I cursed my tomboyishness at that age, but there was nothing I could do about it, it was just who I was. I think I just hoped to find my truly feminine side when I became an adult and could get a job and afford to buy nice clothes. I believed that femininity lay in clothes - little did I know that I had many ladylike qualities hiding under the surface.

I learned to let my girly-girl side out once in a while when I turned eighteen I think. My first attempts at applying make-up were not good. My mother likes to laugh when she recalls me turning up to one of her tap dancing classes wearing shiny scarlet lipstick and badly drawn jet black eyeliner. I shudder to think! Fortunately for my burning cheeks, I learned very quickly how to make my war paint more subtle. I have never worn make-up during the day, apart from the odd occasion when a new hair cut made me feel like making the effort. But one of my favourite things now is to girl-up for a night out. Because I dress like a boy most of the time, the effect of a revealing top, a natty pair of heels, and dramatic eyes is all the more powerful when it's unusual. I don't think I look better than anyone else, but I won't deny that I do enjoy the flattering attention I receive when I scrub up. For a tomboy I'm unusually vain!

Despite enjoying my feminine side from time to time, I am now ferociously proud of my 'masculine' one. When I was at university studying drama I was in a play called 'Treason'. An entirely female cast played male characters. One of my proudest moments was when a fellow student provided some feedback and said that the actor who was best able to put across the idea and personification of androgyny, was me. Of course, it was my vanity that was pandered to, and I was quite wrong to allow my acting talents to take any of the credit, because the fellow student was praising my ability to come across as both male and female at the same time. This feat was no stretch for me, since androgyny is part of my genetic make-up, I believe.

In summing up, then, I would like to say that the true sign of a tomboy is a strong desire to climb trees. This I do, invariably, whenever a suitable tree comes within my sight.

I would also like to say that I have nothing at all against girly-girls. I sometimes choose to be one myself. It is not something that I would like to be permanently though - it's too much like hard work, and as we all know, I am very lazy.

And I would also like to say that everything I have just said is a right load of rubbish, because people are just people, all lovely and different. We all have multi-faceted personalities with different mixes of the feminine and the masculine.


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