Life of a Tomboy

Photo by Eylul Aslan

Photo by Eylul Aslan


Fashion is objective. Someone can look at garments and be told that they are formidable by whatever critic's opinion is relevant at the time.

Style, however, comes from the subjectivity of the wearer. He or she can take these garments worn by every classy gent and gal in their vicinity, and find a way to make themselves feel like they belong, whilst being unique.

I didn't want this to be "my style story" or anything, but I think that speaking from personal experience is beneficial. I am a tomboy. Sure, I have spent years being begrudgingly dressed in girly clothing by my mother; engaging for a time in ballet; and enduring talks of what it meant to be a conventional woman.

I never wanted any of that. What I really wanted was to do was be around my father. For a time he became the guy who would disappear out of my life for an extended time only to reemerge with a hefty paycheck, roughed hands, and a pack of Pokemon cards. He would always talk about the buildings he had erected with his crew while scraping off the plaster that had suctioned itself to his pants.

It was that hard work ethic and ruggedness that I craved - I thought that by acting like him and dressing as he did would make him notice me and maybe make him stay home and do those things with me.

I figured, if I couldn't be his girl, then I could act like I was his boy instead.

I remember tracing his footsteps when he would come home - if he hunch his shoulders, I would too. If he spat on the ground as he walked, I did the same (to the disgust of my mother).

As the years passed and I shopped in the young men's section of every store I entered, and wore the more masculine hand-me-downs from my female cousin, I grew into myself.

School wasn't the greatest experience for a girl who looked and acted like a boy, and the derogatory comments about my sexuality and overall existence were none too pleasing either. As a straight female, I think I did question who I "really was" for a while. I mean, it's difficult not to question yourself as an adolescent in general, but it was more arduous having a running commentary from strangers (and so-called friends) play though your head when you had initially been comfortable being as you are.

That said, I was accepted among guys more so than women. I don't think that it was out of desperation on either side, but rather because they really saw who I was - I was more of a boy at that point than a girl - and they were okay with that. More importantly, it was due to these relationships that I was able to hold perspective on who I was and find comfort within myself.

For me, when I was finally able to dress as I wanted as a young girl,  I went from scratchy sweaters and awkwardness to baggy hoodies and confidence in my own skin.

I think that if anything does that for you, makes you comfortable, then do it. Especially in fashion, where there are so many options and realms of inspiration to draw from.

When I say that I was -and still am- a tomboy, I don't mean in the most girly of senses where I wore a few masculine things here and there. I mean that I dressed, acted, and looked a lot like a boy for many years. Granted, this is coming from a straight woman, but I felt more comfortable in dressing and thinking I was donning a more dominant role. Maybe I thought it was what other people would respect. Maybe I was just trying to find my own style and sense of self. Maybe it can be seen as foolish trying to find some form of self worth through clothing, but it helped shape me. It made me more confident as a woman and as a person in general.

How it is that I ever found a man to love me for who I am, I will never know. I had never been referred to as anything other than the derogatory utterances of strangers and "friends" around me. It will sound lame to write this, but I think that if he and I had met in person instead of via an online international college course, he would never have wanted to be with me. That should never be how I see myself, but I am human and let other people's perception of me get into my head. I started to feel tethered to the notion that I could never be anything other than distasteful in the eyes of a male suitor. It wasn't until I found someone who accepted me as I was, that I began dressing more femininely, not for him but for myself. I used to think that beauty only came from those who had everything figured out and had become "established" in the world of conventional beauty.

That is not the case.

As long as you can hold onto what you think makes you beautiful and comfortable as an individual, then you are, in fact, beautiful no matter what you wear. At the end of the day it is not the clothes that make you beautiful, it's the comfort within yourself that breeds inner confidence, and that is beauty.