From doll to tomboy and everywhere in between


After reading Quizzical Sloth’s post “I was never a tomboy”, it got me really thinking about childhood. Some people take this fixed path of always having been hyperfemme and staying that way, or always being butch even as a child, or never having had much of a gender at all.

What of us that didn’t have that? This certainty that our gender would forever be fixed? Once gender becomes fluid, is anything possible?

When I was 3, I refused to wear anything that wasn’t exactly what a doll would wear: a frilly dress and white socks, and shiny black Mary Janes (they had to be shiny). It wasn’t a costume; I was a doll. I even had blonde wavy shiny ringlets to match (because all dolls back in the 80s/90s were white, of course…). Then I inherited a couple tutus from a family friend who had them as dance costumes when she was little; I would change into the itchy sequined tulle costumes every day as soon as I got home from school. Oh yeah, and I wanted to make people happy by being a “wishing barbie” when I grew up, and make peoples’ wishes come true.

I was so proud to be girly.

Then I discovered tomboy. Comfortable clothes, practical clothes for rolling around in the dirt, armor to wear to show the world how tough I thought I was.

I was so proud to be boyish.

Was one better than the other? Is there a better or worse way to be? What of us kids who never followed exactly one path?

To this day, I like boots and skirts and t-shirts. I like flannel and headbands. I like nail polish and baseball caps. In trying to choose one, fitting in to someone else’s idea of what a girl is, I lost who I was. I did have dysphoria when I wore short skirts and girly girly shoes. I did have dysphoria when I bound and hid my body.

Finding out what’s authentic, for some reason, has been harder for me than for other people. My girlfriend for example has always been herself, has worn basically the same stuff since she was 10. I don’t know why all this went down for me, but not always for others.

I’ve started really enjoying blogs like Lost in a Spotless Mind, a very honest (and beautifully made) style blog that talks about body positivity and authenticity and mental health and wellbeing. I wish there were more like it out there. Because sometimes all I need someone to tell me, after getting so many conflicting messages from society, is that it’s okay to be myself.

My femmy, tomboy, all-over-the-place, self.

This of course gets into another discussion on why we feel the clothes we wear define us in any way, but that’s a story for another time.


10 thoughts on “From doll to tomboy and everywhere in between

  1. Tomboy femme. It’s an actual style. Embrace it! ❤
    I'm with you. I look at these people who've had the same style since they were in elementary or middle school and I'm just like, "How?" Bonus points when they have always looked good in it. Or even people who maybe haven't always had the same style, but have found one look that works for them now and they stick to that.
    If it makes you feel any less alone, I don't really have a style either. I used to be really good at fashion, but now… meh. I think my style is called "I wake up at five and take the bus three hours to work, so you all can deal with me wearing the same pair of pants all week or I'll actually bite you," which should tell you my current relationship with fashion. -_- Clothes are weird, sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Bonus points when they have always looked good in it. ” Nothing makes me more amazed than when someone finds a style that looks eternally good on them from a young age before their body changed! But yeah in the present I definitely experiment a lot; I can’t be the only one. Also “personal style” can be somewhat of a privilege; if, as you alluded, you have crazy long hours and long commutes, who has time to carefully style their hair or even ask if a certain outfit is “you”? The older I get the more I’m okay not having “style”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I read this article last year:

        I’ve considered going that route; just wearing the same thing everyday (or generally the same thing every day–I’d probably go back and forth between black and red shirts), but I like being able to have variety on my days off and I don’t have the space for a week’s worth of “work clothes” in addition to my mix-n-match weekend wardrobe. But damn if it isn’t tempting!


        • Haha it is! My wardrobe is mostly black, gray, navy, and olive green; but I want to have some variety too. It is very tempting to have a work uniform but it hasn’t worked out that way! Maybe in time… have you looked at Project333? It’s a less restrictive version of the work uniform that doesn’t involve buying anything new. I’ve also started using the “pile” algorithm for clothes: whatever I wore recently goes to the front of the pile, and at the end of the year I’ll probably find all my unloved unworn duds in the back of the closet.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh man I will have to try that! I just recently got rid of at least a third (but probably closer to half) of my clothes because I have NO closet space (and a lot of the stuff I’d never even worn!!). Ideally I would love to fit all of my clothes in my dresser. I will DEFINITELY have to try that challenge! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. When I was a kid, I sometimes dressed up as a princess. Other times I looked more like a construction worker, especially when it rained. I loved both but as I grew, the dresses and skirts began to feel more and more uncomfortable. Maybe it was a symptom of gender dysphoria. I would still like to put on a skirt every now and then but it absolutely had to be on my terms. I described myself as tomboyish but did not see myself as a tomboy.
    Now it’s been five years since I last wore a dress (and that was an amazing purple evening gown) and I can’t say I miss them too much. Nowadays I would rather dress in a fancy suit. I feel like I grew from a princess to prince/man/no-idea-but-it-feels-good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In recent years I’ve met so many little boys with an interest in femininity, still censored by their parents. One little boy used to cry if his parents wouldn’t let him get the exact same hot pink snowsuit as his sister’s; they didn’t buy it for him, which might have been well-intentioned (maybe they knew he’d regret it and wouldn’t actually wear it but still…). I also once met another little boy who liked his nails painted all different colors, and his mom thought it was cute… his dad not so much. If there were less censorship growing up, maybe more kids would be like you, expressing their gender outside of the boxes: princes allowing themselves to dream and explore wearing princess clothing.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Interesting post, thank you for sharing 🙂

    I have half a blog post kicking around right now on a similar topic, about clothes, my presentation and my shifting levels of comfort with certain styles. I definitely hear what you say about finding what’s “authentic”, that’s really been on my mind this morning funnily enough. I do wonder what I’ll look like after another year of transition, I’m only a few months in really, just over a year I suppose if you include when I initially really started to mess around with my everyday presentation, and I’ve changed styles a lot. Pre-transition my clothing style basically hadn’t changed since I was about 15: a rock band t-shirt and jeans. I always wanted to dress more extravagantly but it always felt out of reach, something I wasn’t “allowed” to do, so instead I’d found a comfortable bland place to settle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this perspective on my post 🙂

    Owning your identity and allowing yourself to explore different ways of expressing yourself is a skill that many people (myself included) need to acquire. Its accepted that people change as they grow up, but changing in something as large and ‘permanent’ as gender is pretty scary.

    Removing the imposed genders and connotations of specific items of clothing would go a long way to giving people the freedom to experiment- but as you said that’s a story for another time.

    Liked by 1 person

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