Tomboys Can Wear Dresses, Too: Why We Must Stop Dismissing Femininity

Femininity 3

by Melissa Brooks

The perks and pitfalls of being a tomboy

When I was a kid, being a tomboy was cool. It seemed every girl in my grade claimed to be one whether they really were or not. My friends and I argued about who was the most authentic tomboy. I remember challenging my friend Jennifer’s authenticity because she wore dresses. “Tomboys can wear dresses, too!” she spat back.

We tried to act tough, which amounted to pushing the boys or stealing their baseball caps. We underwent “boot camp” training on the playground, during which a kid named Mike put us to a series of tests assessing our toughness, such as flipping off of the playground’s 6-foot-high metallic bridge.1 I remember feeling triumphant as I overcame my fear and did it, and feeling more triumphant as the-too-girly Jennifer couldn’t work up the nerve.

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