Tomboy In a Big Bow World

If you look deep in the heart of Dixie, you’ll find big bows, smocking, Mary Janes, monogramming, frills, ricrac, lace and sweet girls with good manners. Okay, the manners part is a toss-up. (Even boys are not exempt from smocking and monograms, when they’re young).

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Listen, I’m not hating on you if you choose to put cranium-size bows on your daughters’ heads. I have friends I love dearly, that relish all things little girl.

I’m just saying I wasn’t having it – I didn’t want to wear it. My own girls wore bows but they were on the modest side. They also wore dresses and cute clothes, but we were well below the Southern Standard. I tended to stay more in the Target price range.

Given my lack of laundry prowess, I didn’t buy anything that I couldn’t feel okay about tossing out if it was destroyed by dirt, ice cream or a blowout diaper. I know, it’s gross, but that’s just how it is with babies. I speak truth.

I was raised in a culture that prized all things girly. I’m sure it’s like that in other regions, as well, but it seems more prominent in the South for some reason. We may have infected other parts of the country by now, though, what with the Internet and the Southern diaspora (I made that phrase up – it’s when Southerners graduate college, get jobs and move away from home, taking their Southern culture with them). But, I digress.

I feel like I’m writing with a southern accent right now.

I just never fit in. I was tomboy to the core and despised having to wear dresses and have my hair fixed.

There was an incident in first grade that might have played into all this:

I wore my blue corduroy skirt to school one day. We were all on the floor watching a film strip (yes, a film strip, kids – those were the days). I was stretched out with my legs behind me when a little boy reached up, lifted my skirt and looked underneath it.

I was mad, horrified and violated. I believe I decided that was the last time I was wearing a skirt to school. My business casual days were short.

It was probably bound to happen eventually. I was destined to be a tomboy. As I got older I realized how not okay that was. I felt unsatisfactory and always thought my mom probably wished I was a girly girl. That would be a pretty normal wish for a mom.

Boys liked me, too – when we were younger – but eventually as they started noticing girls in a different way, I was overlooked. I was great for climbing trees, playing spy or riding bikes, but not considered pretty. I was one of the boys, I guess.

Plus, as previously mentioned, I was a late bloomer. So I kind of looked like a long haired boy for a long time.

I say all this to say that in a world where girls are judged and defined by a certain set of standards and ideals, I was failing to hit the mark. And I was well aware of it.

Thank God I didn’t grow up in the current day and time, because someone would have been right there to tell me that maybe I really wasn’t meant to be a girl. Maybe I should experiment with being a boy for a while. I can’t imagine how much more confusing it is for kids today.

When I was little I saw a show about people who had been born with particular defects and their parents had chosen which gender their kids would be (and they often chose wrong).

I didn’t understand all the ins and outs, so for a while I actually thought that’s what must have happened to me: my parents picked for me to be a girl because we already had a boy. I hope that doesn’t freak anybody out (looking at you, Mom 😉). It’s funny now but it wasn’t at the time.

The truth is that I was meant to be a girl. I was a girl and I am now a woman. That’s what God created me to be (I firmly believe that women are women and men are men – where identity issues arise, there is disorder somewhere. That’s not politically correct, but it is logical. I also believe there’s a more sympathetic way to see people who struggle in this area than with reproach).

Stereotypes and expectations, and an inability to understand them, were a big part of my problem.

As I’ve gotten older and looked to see what Scripture says about what it means to be a woman (and what it doesn’t say), I feel a lot more freedom to be myself.

God’s original design for woman is so much higher than many of us ever imagine, because we’re so busy worrying about our exteriors that we never get around to the interior of our hearts. That’s where true beauty should be found.

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