The disappearing art of the tomboy

I read an interesting article about the ‘tomboy’ a couple of months ago, and found myself struggling to think of one I might personally know. I used to *try to* be one myself, when younger, as have both my sisters at various points, but none of us got along particularly well.

I was never a popular child and my own quirks combined with the tendency towards football and yo-yos rather than dolls and pink, made me feel like an outsider from the age of about five. One of my younger sisters has suffered at the hands of various bullies for years, which originally started when she was a tomboy-ish girl in primary school. She later went on to call my littlest sister “odd” or “weird” for some of her boyish tendencies (though this is partially due to her inability to see the appeal of football).

But what is perhaps more interesting about the tomboy than its disappearance is its conception. Whilst it appears to defy gender categorisation, the term tomboy encourages it through the assumptions it makes about typical feminine and masculine behaviour. Whilst I am more than happy for girls to prefer running about and climbing trees to playing ‘mother’ with baby dolls and brushing the hair of barbies, perhaps what we ought to consider is why we feel the need to give these girls a different name to their contemporaries because of this.

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