It seems the word tomboy is disappearing, or at least the negative connotation that came with it when we were kids.
Years ago a girl who preferred her t-shirts to tutus and her knees skinned and dirty would bring out all the old biddies in the neighborhood to cluck and shake their fingers. The “l-word” was whispered by parents late at night, and I don’t mean love.
It wasn’t PC or, for that matter, very fair. Neither is the dictionary definition: “an energetic, sometimes boisterous girl whose behavior and pursuits,
esp. in games and sports, are considered more typical of boys than of
But according to an in-depth look at the tomboy label in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, girls who don’t want to act all “girly,” are getting a little more respect these days. Basically, girls are just that – girls. And if they’re girls who like to skateboard, girls who climb trees (as long as their parents don’t catch them) and girls who prefer getting muddy, it’s OK – they don’t need an extra title. They’re still, well, girls.
Marketers might not have it figured out yet – I’m still waiting for mud and bugs Barbie – but the girls have. Maybe that’s because so have we. I never would have thought to call my daughter a tomboy; even though I most definitely was (and I’m not ashamed of that). Part of it is because she loves her pink clothes, her tutus and her sparkle clippies, and nothing I’ve done has changed her tastes. Sigh. But when she tears across the backyard to tackle her friend Chase, I just see two kids playing. It took my godmother, who is in her late fifties, early sixties, to even alert me to the fact that my daughter isn’t as “girly” as some. “She’s a tomboy,” she told me the other day, watching my daughter and Chase outside on the swingset. “She’s unique.”
The former didn’t bother me, but the latter I appreciated more. Yes, that’s right, she’s unique. She’s different. She doesn’t have to do everything one way because she’s a girl. She just does . . . whatever.
Explains Kristen Tillotson in the Star-Tribune:
The consensus: Girls feel more pressure to look good than boys — but
not necessarily all pink and lacy. They still have more
responsibilities around the house, such as helping with cooking and
cleaning, than their brothers do. They also have a lot of chutzpah and
I doubt the pressure to look good will ever go away. Whether you want to look good for a guy, a girl or even just to feel more comfortable in your own skin, a portion of that is intrinsic in feminity – in part because our bodies change so drastically during adolescence. The difference between responsibilities in the household between the genders is still up to parents; although I’d wager that even that is changing. But if it’s the sister who prefers cutting the lawn to helping to cook dinner, at least she might never hear she’s doing the man’s job when there’s woman’s work to be done.