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Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Such Thing as a Tomboy

Me age 3 and my cool wheels with my sister Catherine on back.
When women tell me they were a "tomboy," I cringe inside.
No, I feel like saying, you were a girl.
Just a girl.
Girls like to get dirty, girls love adventure, girls climb trees, girls don't notice when they have twigs and leaves in their hair, girls ride horses, girls ride bikes and skateboards. Girls also like dolls, they like to dance and sing and wear beautiful gowns sometimes.

I always looked quite feminine as a child because I was very small for years and I always wore my hair long. At age 12 I was the shortest kid in my class--the only 7th grader in the front row at the Christmas concert. But then, miraculously, I grew. My growth was a little slow I think because I spent the first 5 years of my life rather ill and in and out of hospitals. Then, at age 5, I received life saving surgery and was cured--so the growth catch up began.

 I was mistaken for a boy once--at about age 12. My sister Catherine and I both had cut our hair short after a life time of long locks. We were at a pharmacy in town (we lived in the gorgeous BC town of Salmon Arm). We both sported matching giant blue down-filled winter jackets. One thing about my parents was that they dressed us in the warmest winter wear--we always had leather winter boots and down-filled coats  (they had grown up knowing COLD prairie winters).
Any way, we were nestled around a Bonne-Bell lip gloss display stand when a pharmacy employee with a bad attitude informed us, "Those are for girls."

That was the first time in my life that I doubted my attractiveness as a girl. Catherine and I were devastated and decided that yes, perhaps we did look like boys in our new short hair cuts. From that time on, I began to look at myself in the mirror with more critical eyes. The short hair I could work with--I started feathering it off of my face, Farrah Fawcett style. But there was nothing I could do about my freckles that sat on my cheeks and marched across my nose like proud kisses from the sun. Inside, I called myself a freckle-faced frankfurter.

One of my favorite things to do as a girl was to sit under the cold waterfall in the creek that ran through the property behind ours. We lived on an acreage near Salmon Arm, BC. Our land was packed solid with towering cedar trees. The creek flowed  into Shuswap Lake. My sisters and I would sit under the cold waterfall until we were completely soaked and frozen. Then, we would run as fast as we could, up the banks to a freshly plowed farmers field and roll in the dirt--covering our entire bodies until we looked like black Sasquatches. We'd chase each other with our filthy bodies and then run back to the creek and sit under the water fall until we were clean again. We were girls.

Another favorite memory is of all of the Barbie houses I built. My sisters and I would build a block of Barbie houses--each of us in charge of constructing our own from scratch: cardboard boxes, borrowed wooden shelves from the china cabinet. Barbie was always the mom and Ken the dad. We'd each have our own family with a menagerie of children. We played Barbie for hours and hours in the basement. It didn't seem strange at all that the Barbie family driver of the giant Barbie Winnebago was the Barbie kid. A ten year old seems just the right age to drive when you're six or seven. We were girls.

Abandon the labels...just let girls be who they are...free to explore the earth how ever they want and free to dress themselves up how ever they see fit. Girls are sugar and spice but they are also snakes and snails. Just as boys are puppy dog tails and everything nice.

There is no such thing as a girly-girl or a Tomboy. All girls are a mixture of both. When we abandon the labels we see that being a GIRL is enough.
Girls are perfect when they are true to themselves.
Be a girl. 
Just a girl.

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