Growing up some girls were known as “tomboys.” Unlike the connotations around the word “sissy,” there seemed nothing bad about the label. It referred to girls who liked to climb, run, do sports and generally play anything except dolls. Looking back at my elementary school days, I realize that the majority of the girls in my grades before puberty were all tomboys.
I don’t know if it was because we were in Oregon or because of the specific nature of my little school, but the most admired girls were very athletic. Being “cute” or “pretty” really didn’t seem to make any difference in popularity. We might have to wear skirts and dresses at school, but that didn’t stop our activities. The only hitch I had was when I transferred in second grade to this new school. At the old one we hung upside down without pause. At the new one I was quickly informed that I needed to wear shorts under my dress to do the same stunt.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my friends early on were all boys and I loved dressing up as seen above in my father’s necktie and my cowboy hat and gun. In grade school I made friends with girls, but even in fifth grade my best friend and I spent a long time debating whether Annie Oakley or Dale Evans was our idol. We could still imagine ourselves riding into the sunset with either one.
Seventh grade seemed to be the demarcation line for becoming “ladylike.” We went to dancing school, learned how to follow, not lead, how to wear gloves and to be “demure.” It seemed agreed that it was time to put our “tomboy” self behind us. Most of us did.
How does it go for tomboys today?