I totally understand what you’re saying with this article and I do agree with much of it. The tomboy trope was and often is used to tell girls that they either have to embrace some masculine attributes to succeed and/or it is wrong to do so — being masculine makes you the “other,” someone to be rescued from your boyish looks and attitudes. For example, just look at all the characters in Pygmalion-esque films such as She’s the Man, She’s All That, or Never Been Kissed where it is tomboyishness instead of poverty that the male protagonist must overcome to create his perfect woman.
However, there is one aspect of tomboy that I didn’t see addressed in your article. I have noticed that the word has be reappropriated or reclaimed much like the word queer. What was once a trope is now an identity.
If you search Pinterest, Instagram or Tumblr for “tomboy,” you’re going to find many posts from queer, androgynous women especially young women. You’ll find photos of short-haired women in jeans and a t-shirt, a suit or some sort of outerwear. However, the short hair is often a feminine pixie cut, the clothes are feminine cuts of men’s clothing and unlike the stereotype of the tomboy, these women are wearing makeup.
In this context, “tomboy” signifies a blending of masculine and feminine styles and is being presented as a non-binary identity.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks