By Zara Ali:
I see her there, in the grocery store, trailing a few feet behind her mother. Her wavy black hair touches her shoulders; she’s in a blue T-shirt, faded blue jeans, and converse sneakers. Her brown eyes catch mine. You give her a look as if to say, “Come on, already!” I can tell you’re frustrated, because you wish she were just a little different, a little more feminine. You may think she is being defiant by her clothes, lack of makeup and hair products. But she is just being herself. I know, because I am her.
From a young age, the society bombards girls with images and ideas of what a woman should be; feminine and lady-like. Yet, the same society will then turn around and say that being feminine means weak and inferior. In order to be strong women, women who are taken seriously when surrounded by male friends and colleagues, we should portray more masculine attributes.
Some women are girly girls from the start. Love pink over blue and tea parties to forts. Other girls prefer playing superheroes to playing house and would rather have action toys than Barbie dolls. Then, there are the girls that fall in between loving a little of this and a little of that.
I am the younger sister to an older brother, the long awaited girl in the family. However, I looked up to my father and brother and wanted to be just like them. So, I swore off all things feminine, pink, and seemingly “girly”. My mother and I had our fair share of arguments over lace blouses, permed hairstyles, and wearing jeans to parties. That side of being a girl never appealed to me. It just didn’t. I found my feminine strength on the softball field, scraped knees, guitar and combat boots. I didn’t want to be just like the boys. I just wanted to be me. So, let me give you some advice from a grown tomboy, one who seemingly has it all together now.
Let her choose her clothes. As long as it’s modest, don’t say a word about the constant polo T-shirts, pony tail, and faded jeans. She is finding her own style and eventually she’ll be comfortable in her own skin. Until then, let her find her confidence in her comfort.
Let her play/do whatever sport/activity she chooses. She may want to play snooker. Let her. She may want to try out as a lead guitarist for a headbanger band. Let her! You have no idea how much confidence a girl gets through being good at athletics and music. Even when I had no self-esteem about my looks, I found it while listening to hard rock. And when she’s ready to stand in front of a mirror with a pretty dress on, her confidence from the jam sessions will be her foundation.
You may question her sexuality. Don’t. She wants to be loved and get married someday, but she just wants to be loved for who she is. She may want a low key wedding and refuse to wear a tiara. Please accept that, it will be best for both of you. And don’t be surprised when she plans her wedding around not so suitable season.
Her mother may think that she failed as a parent because her daughter is a tomboy. She didn’t. Her daughter is independent and creative, probably just like her. I’ve realized that although I fought with my mom over not being girly enough, it’s because we’re both very, very stubborn. I admire her and love her. I am the strong woman I am today because of her. She loves me.
Above all, don’t lose hope. I have my feminine days when I don makeup and fix my hair because I want to. But for the most part, I’d rather wear jeans and my favourite polo T shirt.
She is no less a woman. She’ll grow up, go to college and find even more confidence in the classroom than she did on the field playing basketball, marry some cute guy who loves her natural style, and have her own daughter one day and once again swear off the “pink explosion” that seems to come with baby girls. She is unique. She is her own. Cherish her. Because there is no right woman and there is no wrong woman. There is just woman.