“Excuse me for not fitting your stereotype.” (Saw this on a friend’s twitter bio and thought it was fitting)
When I was a kid I always opted to go outside and shoot hoops over playing with dolls. I would rather race bikes than play dress up. I never played in my mom’s make-up and fishing trips with my dad were some of my favorite times. Of course, this earned me the label of “tom-boy”. Not so ironically, 3 out of 4 of my sister’s also got the same label. We had 1 “girly girl” and she even played in the dirt with us from time to time.
The label on the box people put me in back then is still with me now. Boxes are funny things because most of the time we talk about not being put in one, but we often believe the labels that come along with them. I believed that label for so long and I just accepted that it was actually a part of me. So I was the girl who played sports, didn’t like dressing up, opted for jeans over dresses and sneakers over heels. The few times when I did actually try to indulge my “girly” side by wearing dresses and heels, people flipped out. They would say things like, “Oh you are so pretty! Never thought I’d see the day you wore a dress though.” That would instantly send me back into my shell of denim washes and nike checks. It was just easier to fit inside the box; no fanfare that way. And to be honest, the comments just made me feel insecure with my “girly” side.
Then I grew up. I outgrew the box and the labels. I got comfortable with all of me. That’s not to say that I am extra frilly now, but I am comfortable being so when I want to. I definitely rock dresses all the time now, love wearing make up on some days and thoroughly enjoy my “pamper me” days. However, the fanfare still comes more often than I would like and I still get the comments. I attribute this to a combination of people’s expectations, my strong personality (this cld be a whole post) and my practical spirit (getting manicures and pedicures every week, buying labels, having 20 purses and spending copious amounts of money on products is senseless to me; has nothing to do with being a tom boy, I just think that money could be saved). Although now I am secure enough to not allow the comments to force me back into the shell, they still get to me. I mean really, I am a woman, I am feminine and why wouldn’t I want to dress it up from time to time? It’s like instead of checking my outfit, maybe people should check their expectations. I think people don’t realize that when you make a statement like, “Wow! You actually look good in dresses,” you are questioning a person’s femininity. It’s a compliment in reverse that usually does more harm than good. I would like to think the motive behind such comments is to make the person feel more comfortable, so they wear certain things more, but it doesn’t do that. If this is news to you, well now you know. That’s like expressing concern by saying, “You look really tired? Are you okay?” It doesn’t go over well.
I wonder if the same things happen to men. For example, say you have a classic pretty boy who always takes extra long on his looks, doesn’t really watch sports, and is just not into doing the typical “guy” stuff. Then he comes in with some hoopin shorts and a fitted. Does his masculinity get questioned?
I guess my bigger point is, what’s wrong with being a tomboy? The world feeds us so many stereotypes and prototypes. Those blueprints transform into expectations, but what is being “girly” really all about. I feel just as feminine in my kicks as I do in heels. This wasn’t always the case as I mentioned above. There was certainly a time when a dress made me feel more feminine…and more awkward. That was only because I bought into the stereotypes too. Now, I don’t feel less like a woman just because I may go a day without make up or rock my guy’s bball shorts from time to time. I am inherently “girly” because I am a girl. Period. Whatever label one may choose to put on my style of girl or woman is up to them and has nothing to do with me. As the fellow threader, Pipeline said, “I was a tomboy… still am… with pride!”.
Anyway, that’s my rant. Thoughts?
P.S. I still HATE heels and the person who made them. Whoever set that expectation was probably a man who has no idea how awful those things feel and they aren’t even practical. Death to heels for real!