Feminism | Posted by Aimee B on 04/11/2012
Growing Up A Tomboy
I never thought much of gender construction as a child. I just knew what I wanted to wear, how my hair should be cut, and what interested me. Did I want to proudly wear my new matching dragon shirt and short set? Yes. Did I want to play the more physical and male dominated games? Yes. Breaking through the conventions of the female stereotype was never problematic for me until I was around eight years old and moved to a new town.
It was nerve racking. I was suddenly over-aware of my “boyish” appearance, worried about how and if my peers would accept me. My mother accompanied my sister and me to our new classrooms, mine being the first. The teacher met us outside of the classroom, hugged my sister, who had more of a feminine appearance than myself, and enthusiastically said, “Welcome Aimee!” This assumption was just the beginning of the long lasting confusion regarding my gender from those around me. I can’t say for certain what my peers thought of me, but I managed to attend school free from being bullied, and I am grateful to this day that my classmates did not outwardly ridicule me for who I was.
That isn’t to say I wasn’t internally tormented about my identity. I’d hover between the male and female bathrooms, trying to decide in which bathroom I would receive fewer stares from. The situation became so detrimental that at times I would hold my bladder until I went home in pain, or, on occasion, urinating myself.
When puberty hit, my life changed. I began to succumb to the expectations that society had for me as a woman. I began to stray away from my masculine traits and started to dress more feminine and began to grow my hair out in attempts to be seen as “normal.” Regardless of whether or not that was what I desired, I grew into this new appropriate gender role I had created for myself. No longer was I mistaken for a boy and I felt comfortable around new people that weren’t trying to decipher my gender.
Yet as I became more educated on the issue, I started to ask myself if this was how I wanted to identify myself. I’ve lived on both ends of the spectrum and it seems I am now left attempting to determine who I truly am. My childhood has resulted in a deeply rooted self-consciousness that I can’t seem to shake. What I really desire is to just be free from the pressures that have forced me to confine myself to these simplified versions of the female gender.
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