Tomboys and Pretty Little Girls: Why Should She Have to Choose One or the Other?


I’ve seen a few things in my online adventures recently that reminds me that little boys are supposed to be wild and get dirty and little girls are supposed to be pretty and gentle. This encourages me to get my daughter out playing in the dirt.

Yesterday she was dressed in yoga pants and a shirt with a nice warm sweater and she was asking for her hat. We knew that her summer hat would not do. Joe fished her Ottawa Senators baseball cap out of our ‘outdoor accessories’ basket. With the cap on top of her messy hair that I no longer expect to be able to tame (just like Mommy’s), she looked like a tomboy and I told her so.

Today I’m re-thinking my word.


In my head it’s good to be a tomboy -- girls don’t need to be so delicate and fragile as we paint them to be. I struggled to be nice and pretty when I was a kid. I’m uncoordinated, so my knees were usually cut up, my hair was always messy (I remember one year when my teacher actually came to comb my hair right before my school picture and it actually made it worse), and I managed to stain just about everything I wore.

I wished I was outgoing enough to be a real tomboy. They were the girls I identified with in movies and on TV -- I wanted to be Jo in Little Women. I wish I had Katherine Hepburn’s style.

Other people consider ‘tomboy’ a bad thing. As I grew into a teenager, it became clear that I would never be well-liked or have a boyfriend in high school unless I ditched the pony tail and the glasses and started wearing dresses and skirts and nicer shoes.

The problem was I liked my glasses, my hair was easier to deal with short, I was not comfortable wearing skirts that barely covered my ass and I have always preferred sneakers to heels. I spent all of my five years of high school looking for shoes that were ‘in style’ but were butt-ugly platforms.

But when I looked at my kid smiling in the backseat, and called her a tomboy, I realized I don’t want her to have to choose one or the other. I want her to wear a dress if she feels like it, and not be afraid to get a little dirty or have scars. I want her to not let messy hair or stains bother her.

I want her to just be, not tomboy or girly; just Maggie.

She is, without a doubt, Maggie.

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