Growing up a Tomboy

Tomboy Definition

There are many descriptions and definitions of a tomboy, but the Urban Dictionary sums me up; 

a female with male like characteristics. 
Tomboys give 0 fucks about what’s going on or who talks about them. They’d rather spend the day in the mud wrestling with their friends then to stay inside painting their nails. A tomboy doesn’t have to play a sport. Tons of girly girls play sports, so it doesn’t really matter.

That was me from the get-go!

My Tomboy Self

Born in the 60’s, growing up in the 70’s,

My very first memory of hating dresses was at 3 years old.

Dressed as fairy for a Christmas party 

I screamed and ranted at the tutu, way too sparkly.

The distress at these clothes was never understood by my mother, father, brother

Nor my sister, my aunts and uncles, teachers or peers.

No one ever knew my hidden fears. 

To wear girls clothes was a lifelong struggle, pushed by patriarchy while fuelling my anarchy.

I was a girl who wanted to be a boy, I played football, lego, climbed trees, rode bikes and had loads of street fights.

Defiant and angry at all the arguing, “why are your hands dirty” “why don’t you wear a skirt”

From my mother who pleaded with me to be a real girl.

Forever comparing me to her friends’ daughters, who had clean hands and wore skirts, who played with dolls, liked makeup and shopping, while I was scrumping and snogging out with the lads.

A dress for my 5thbirthday, it was flouncy and floral, so 70’s, I was so not impressed.

I felt physically sick when open this gift, my mum so pleased, so happy at something girly, when all I wanted was to shred that dress.

I wore it once for a portrait photograph, I felt so awkward and naff, then I buried that dress at the bottom of the draw hoping it would appear no more.

These were the clothes for me, often mistaken as a boy and called “sonny”, I lived as a tomboy for all my younger years.

I only felt right in my tee shirt, ripped jeans and baseball boots.

With my brother and wear the hated dress

By 7 years old I was swearing and smoking, out on the streets, the park, playing until dark. 

Those were the days when we were never indoors, always with mates and out to explore.

My best friend was a tomboy, but not quite as me, she liked boyish things, but me, I wanted to be a boy.

My nick name was Billy Boy and I was truly proud, named so by the lads in our crowd.

It was not rebellion, defiance or unruly behaviour, I was a tomboy and never understood until I reach adulthood, that it was in my DNA.

My parents despaired but eventually gave in to the tomboy way, thinking that I was probably gay.

I still had parental battles for Doc Martins and Wranglers, while mum bought me jeans from Marks and Spencer’s,

I just wanted Wranglers, what did she not see………

She never realised my inner torment and anguish, seeing me as naughty and cheeky.

Constantly embroiled in clothing bickers, even in preschool the conflict flickers.

A pair of trousers with the buttons cut off, caught red handed by Miss McGoff

She bellowed “Stand in the corner you naughty girl”, the humiliation, distress, still haunts me now,

She banned me from wearing my beloved trousers, the injustice I felt enraged inside, the punishment was harsh for such a crime.

But mother was happy, now she would find all those dresses and skirts that I had left behind.

What this created inside of me was an anger ready to flee, I hated that school for what they did, I never kept those feelings hid.

I feigned sickness to my mum and off school I would stay, back in my jeans ready to play, she never seemed to mind me being at home, it was chilled, and I was free to roam.

I stole from that school whenever I could, pens, paper, a purse from the box of dressing up.

I developed the knack to nick, to steal and to lie, all motivated by Miss McGoff,

Who I secretly called Miss Mcfuckoff.

Ripped jeans and Bay City Rollers tee

Christmas was always trouble for me as I wished for Action Man, Hot Wheels and Scalextric, 

But I got a doll, a play kitchen, colouring books, my head was hectic.

I would sell some of the toys to the kids on the street, then buy 10 No6 on the sneak,

Christmas 1975, all I wanted was a Chopper bike, but I got the Raleigh Shopper bike!

I was mortified, it was purple with shopping baskets attached to the front.

I stripped it, painted it, rode it hard down the gullies, the train tracks, tried to break it with a high jump stunt

Then I gave up, rode my brothers racer instead, way too big for me, but who cares,

I was always up for the dare!

My gran bought me action man, with his gripping hands, scarred face and eagle eyes, he was my hero I cannot deny.

I loved action man, I loved all the miniature clothes, kit bags and army gear.

I bought him a motor bike and helicopter, playing killing games with my younger brother in fear.

Action Man and Chopper bike were all I ever wanted
Wanted Action Man but got this play kitchen!

Aged 11yrs old I had a paper round, up at 6 delivering the times, the sun and the daily mirror.

Earning money to buy my own things, no more begging for my boyish clobber,

now I could save up and purchase without any bother.

Off to town on the 18 bus, into the market to Mikes Mighty Jeans,

“Wranglers please mate….. alright sonny, what size”? I felt alive.

Paid for the jeans with my own money, no one to fight with, to argue with, just me and my bestie living the dream.

Those Wrangler jeans empowered me, they embodied all that I was, I felt confident, tough and real.

No more girls clothes for me, stupid, stupid dresses and skirts, now I was free.

Washed once a week and straight back on, I wore these jeans to the end of their life.

me on the left side with my boys flared trousers, snake belt and Simon shirt, looking defiant

Then came a set back from secondary school, the uniform, a skirt, a blouse and blazer, all navy and gold, 

Feeding my now teenage angst, I would not be told, ditching the blazer for my denim jacket and school shoes to monkey boots

They would not crush my tomboy roots.

Rebellion in full swing with a touch of truanting, I would not be tamed, 

Fuelled by rock music, cigarettes, carling and spliffs, Billy Boy was my nick name.

School was a Joke, I was never there, always skiving, teachers didn’t care,

Educating girls who would become pregnant, there was just no need, that’s what they believed.

The girl’s school was left on the heap while the boys were pushed to achieved and have such self-belief.

It mattered not to me, I would do whatever, I was tomboy clever.

My first crush was on Pete with his 250cc Suzuki, I was 13 he 17, I was in love,

With his bike more than him.

He showed me how to ride and gave me a taste for a lifestyle I would like,

From tomboy to rocker to biker.

17thbirthday I bought my first bike, the happiest day of my life,

I was free, independent, there was no stopping me.

Now working in a factory 40hrs a week, sewing up garments and paid per piece,

I earned good money, cash every week, financing my lifestyle, that greaser was me.

Then I was bored and wanted to get on, so went back to study, you could in those days, social mobility really did pay.

Further education changed me so much, studying fashion was such a rush, creative and satisfying, I developed ambition.

The tomboy me began to falter, my style became trendy, girly, pressure from fashion and society as a whole, diminished my boyish control.

Years went by and tried to fit in, playing the game of fashion victim, but always aware that it was truly not me.

1987 my 21st Birthday

Decades past and then came the real blast, the menopause, the midlife, the older, wiser self.

A friend’s wedding was the pinnacle for me, wearing a dress and girly shoe, I sat in the pew, thinking what the fuck, I hate this fucking dress so much.

I made a vow that day, never again would I wear a dress, a skirt or a girly shoe.

Tomboy is back, not giving a shit, riding a mountain bikes, boxing at the gym, swearing and rebelling, not looking for likes.

Wearing the jeans, tees shirts, and Docs, still working in fashion, what a load of crock.

I am a tomboy wife and a tomboy mum, my daughter is 12 and here’s the irony, the dam right blow, “But mummy, I want the sequin dress with the great big bow”

once a tomboy always a tomboy x

Were you a tomboy?

Are you a tomboy?

Would love to hear from you!

Hope you enjoyed my poem, the events in this are real, I am a tomboy mum and I was a tomboy from as far back as I remember. I was always nagged to conform to this idea of how a girl or woman should be! If was that tomboy today I would have been a lot happier!

I have been with my husband for 17 years and have a very girly daughter of 12!

Be safe folks x

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