As soon as I was allowed any say in my wardrobe I wore pink. All pink. I loved pink. I loved pink so much that on ‘wear the colours of your favourite football team to school day’ (I thought it was a mouthful too), this happened: But then something changed. I became aware that boys got to wear lots of colours, and I learned that some of the games I liked playing weren’t for girls. I didn’t like playing with dolls, but I loved climbing trees, and I preferred Pretend Time Machine to Pretend Families-With-Rigid-Traditional-Gender-Roles. Some children excluded me from the games I wanted to play. I hadn’t realised before, but being a girl sucked. I learned that girls aren’t fun or funny. Girls are emotional and spoil things for everyone else by overreacting to everything. And apparently girls don’t fart ever. Which is ridiculous, because (although I’ll admit I haven’t done any research on this) I’m pretty sure that holding in farts indefinitely causes spontaneous combustion. Not farting is dangerous.
Eventually I found some other children (boys and girls) willing to overlook girliness when choosing playmates for the sorts of games I liked. But I had already learned the lessons and I was determined not to be a girl anymore. Fortunately for me, everything in the world that was earmarked for girls was coloured pink. This made it easy. If I didn’t wear pink, have pink things or engage in any way with pink, then I wouldn’t be a girl. At least not a girlie girl.
Most of my clothes came from the boys’ section of shops. I wore blue and brown and green, but not pink. I tried to be tough. I became this: (Note: I didn’t actually wear a baseball cap sideways, and I’ve never liked sports so I wouldn’t have run around with a ball. I just needed props in the picture to indicate how non-girlie I was being, or it would just be me in red going ‘grrr!’ which I didn’t think cut it).
I loved being a tomboy. It rocked. When I wasn’t dressed as a girl people didn’t expect me to act like one (well … not often. But this story isn’t about those people). I got to play with sticks and get dirty. I got to wear baggy clothes. People stopped expecting me to want to be “pretty” and I preferred it that way.
As I grew up I went back to wearing clothes designed for girls, but I still wouldn’t wear dresses, skirts or the colour pink. I hated dresses and skirts because they are for girls and, more importantly, you can’t sit with your legs apart when wearing them because that’s how dudes sits and everyone can see your undies.
My skirt hatred was deepened by my school’s gender-specific uniform. In summer I had to wear a dress, and in winter I had to wear a skirt. Girls could not wear the boy uniform, and boys could not wear the girl uniform. It infuriated me.
When I left school I wore pants whenever possible. I only wore dresses when I really, really, really had to dress up. And then there was a heat wave, and I was suffocating in my jeans. So I cautiously tried on a skirt in a shop, taking care that no one saw me. I didn’t know clothing could be that comfortable. In a world with skirts, why would anyone wear non-elasticated waistband pants? Why would I do it? I owned skinny jeans for fuck’s sake! What insanity! I had fallen into the Skinny Jeans Trap, which is a form of denial that occurs when you are blinded by the perceived skinniness of your legs and convince yourself that, actually, skinny-jeans are quite comfortable and it’s not like you needed the ability to bend over anyway. Any pair of pants that leaves imprints of its seams on your legs for an hour after you take them off is not comfortable. And, even worse, they don’t make your legs looks skinny and waif-like unless you already have skinny legs (and I don’t).
It had been so long since I had experienced such intense comfort that I was terrified that it wasn’t real. It seemed too much that I would be allowed to keep it. Good things like that just don’t happen. And then I made another discovery. I could swish. It was the greatest things I had ever experienced in my life.
My new love of swishing and comfort overpowered any remaining hatred I had towards girlie things. I realised this view was, and always had been, silly. If I wanted to do guy things then I should just do them. And, of course, if I wanted to do girl things then I should do those too. Because guy things aren’t really guy things, and girl things aren’t really girl things. They are all just things.
I also realised that I was lucky to be a girl disillusioned with female gender performance, rather than a boy disillusioned with male gender performance. Tomboys are far more widely accepted than their male equivalents.
Now, I only ever wear skirts and dresses. And I swish wherever I go. Sometimes I even wear pink.