I certainly wasn’t the prettiest girl at school. My hair was short and very rarely did I wear dresses. Possibly the only time a dress was worn was for Sunday School and for actual school, a tunic. Apart from that it was denim shorts or jeans all the way.
My early years before developing into a young lady I was often mistaken for a cute, young boy. I think I may have been 10 years old when I asked if could get my ears pierced so people could tell the difference.
Looking back, the misconception wasn’t all that unreasonable considering the stereotypical behaviour of a boy. I did like to ride my Hotfoot BMX bike, play in the creek, find crayfish, go fishing, set off exploring on my horse and any other activities where skirts and dresses are deemed inappropriate.
Growing up with three older brothers, more often than not, if I wanted someone to play with I had to be doing what they were doing. Did I mind? No, not at all. I had very few dolls. With the few hand-me-down Barbie dolls I had, I cut off all their long blonde hair because they looked nothing like me. I will admit to owning and cherishing some of the Mattel Barbie horses including Dixie and Prancer.
I didn’t own make up until I was about 16 and even then it might have been coloured lip balm, nail polish and perhaps a blue eye shadow my mother had passed onto me. The lip balm was handy and I liked painting my toe nails. But eye shadow? I didn’t even know what to do with it.
At school I was teased. I could run faster than almost everyone in my circle. Over a 100 metre sprint my personal best was 13.34 seconds. I was extremely fit and very agile. At lunch time I would play handball and basketball or join in on any of the physical activities. One of the boys had nicknamed me “balls”. I remember his name and I decided not to publish it because he doesn’t deserve the representation. It was uncomfortable to hear this name being said to my face as it never really made sense to me. I never understood why I was being labelled for doing “boy stuff” when all I was doing was having fun.
To this day, I still don’t know if he called me “balls” because he thought I wanted to be a boy or because I enjoyed playing sports that included a ball. Perhaps it was both. I never asked. The other justification for the name calling is because he liked me. I highly doubt it. He either felt intimidated or jealous.
As I grew older naturally my hormones kicked in. My body shape changed as well as boy’s attitude towards me. All of a sudden I became “attractive”. It was a different world. No longer did I have to learn to keep up. Instead I had to learn boundaries and protection.
My guy friends became weird. They started acting differently and expressing unusual untoward comments. I wasn’t the greatest at communication so my default reaction was to avoid. It’s extremely difficult to be friends with any guy because they either fall in love, speak of their emotions or physically exhibit behaviours that overstep the friendship line.
Today, I wear dresses, put on make up and polish my nails, however you can still find me riding my bike, exploring the mountains and creeks or fishing. There isn’t much that has changed. Does this make me a tomboy? If so, then great. I’m proud to be a woman who accepts I have moved away from the stereotypical idea of what it’s like to be a female.
I am me. I call it living my life doing the things I love.