I recently got a peek into the past life of one of my friends. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call her “Lisa”. Lisa and I met in college and in the two years we have known each other, we have become semi-good friends. We bonded over our similar childhoods and our similar taste in men. When she described herself as a “tomboy” in her pre-college years, I automatically knew the life she had lived, because I had lived that life as well. However, after going to her home and seeing pictures of her growing up, as well as hearing stories straight from the mouths of her family members, I now know that Lisa is in fact not an actual member of “tomboys anonymous”.
She is what I like to call a “faux-tomboy”. What is a “faux-tomboy”, you ask? A faux-tomboy is a label I reserve for girls who like to assign themselves the label of “tomboy” when in all actuality, all they did was play club soccer for six or seven years growing up. This is something that if you are a reformed tomboy, like I am, can make you very upset.
You see I was an actual 100% tomboy growing up. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of me from middle school.
I. Was. A. Tomboy. If you were to actually look up the word “tomboy” in an online dictionary, this is the definition you would find:
tomboy: n – a girl who acts or dresses in a boyish way, liking rough outdoor activities.
You know what a tomboy isn’t? A girl who grew up playing sports but also had the knowledge it took to paint her nails and do her hair. For all of you girls out here willy-nilly labeling your childhood as that of a tomboy’s, I’d like for you to look at the following lists I have made. One list is to tell you if you were a tomboy. Still confused? The second list is to tell you if you are a recovering tomboy. Look at my picture and tell me I don’t know what a tomboy is. Look into those ugly, sad eyes. If you fit over 75% of this list, you were probably a tomboy. If you don’t, guess what? You were simply a girl who played sports!
Ways to know if you were a tomboy as a child:
1. You had no fear or aversion to picking up frogs and/or any other slimy creature you found in your backyard.
2. You actually went looking for those kinds of animals.
3. You played with tools. Actual tools. Not plastic pretend tools.
4. You had no concept of hair care, choosing instead to just wear your hair up in a ponytails. Everyday. (Unless you were physically forced by your mother to wear it down.)
5. Make-up? What’s that?
6. You played with G.I. Joes and Superhero action figures, and Barbies weren’t invited to the party.
7. Skateboarding/rollerblading/biking were your only forms of transportation.
8. You tried to jump off a ramp on at least two of the previously mentioned transports.
9. You preferred to play outside and be as disgusting as humanly possible, only complaining when you had to take a shower.
10. Video games. Not just Mario Kart. Halo. Goldeneye. Grand Theft Auto. Games where you got to kill bitches and take names. Bonus Points if you played Star Wars games on the PS2.
11. Oh yeah: you knew every line from Star Wars. And not because your parents made you watch them, because at all your guy friends’ birthday parties that’s what you watched.
12. You had more toy guns than you care to remember and used them to play army games.
13. Dresses and skirts were Satan’s clothes.
14. Boys were made for playing with and punching never for kissing.
15. Nail painting? That was the dumbest thing ever.
Bonus: If your friends ever literally held you down and forced make up on your face because they were so desperate for you to be a girl, you were a tomboy.
Bonus part deux: If your friends ever hid your favorite basketball shorts because they wanted you to stop “dressing like a lesbian” (even though you weren’t, they were just comfortable shorts, okay?), you were a tomboy.
Ways to know if you are a recovering tomboy:
1. Make up is the single most difficult thing to figure out. I mean, what purpose does lip liner even serve? Why is it necessary?
2. You often ask questions like: “Wait why can’t I wear this out in public? I thought ponchos were cool!”
3. “Oh, she’s my best friend, she’s one of the dudes, I could never see her like that.” – Every guy ever.
4. Wait, why do I have to wear a dress to Happy Hour? Who made up that rule? Who?
5. You wonder things like this: “How do I make my hair look like I didn’t just rub a balloon on my head? Hairspray? I don’t understand.“
6. Questions like this arise: “Wait, what is a ‘chi’? That thing that grows grass on its head?”
7. You have problems having conversations with other girls because it’s impossible for you to understand them. Why can’t you all just grab a beer and watch the game? Why do feelings matter this much?
8. You can’t figure out why people like movies like The Notebook. Obviously Nicolas Sparks has issues with women. Why can’t you all just watch Star Wars? It’s way less depressing.
9. You ask questions like “What is a pencil skirt?” and “I just don’t understand why I can’t wear black and brown together? Why is that so bad?”
10. When you are trying to strike up a conversation with a potential suitor, you forget that most boys aren’t actually impressed by your knowledge of sports.
11. You still can’t paint your nails, so your friends have to do it for you.
12. You spend a lot of time explaining that you aren’t, and never have been, a lesbian.
If these lists fit your life, well then, I would like to welcome you to “Tomboys Anonymous”. It can be a rough road for those of us who are members. It’s been almost five years since I applied my first brush of mascara and I’m still having a hell of a time, but hang in there. It gets better, I promise! I even wear dresses now! Here I am a year ago in a formal dress to prove it to you:
I may not be the best at being a girl, but at least now I don’t have bangs!
by Mary Kitts