In Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, the idea of a “Tomboy” is represented as being a bold, spirited, and adventurous girl that shows interest in traditionally “boyish” activities, while in 2011 film Tomboy “tomboy” is represented as being assigned a female at birth, by having the gender identity of a boy and desiring to transition (the life of a young transman). The Keyword Essay “Tomboy” by Michelle Ann Abate describes tomboy as an evolving term, including a bold and immodest women, girl who behaves like a spirited and boisterous boy, and a wild romping girl. This definition lends more to the portrayal of a Tomboy in Little Women through the character Jo March. The end of the “Tomboy” essay, however, notes how the term is evolving in definition to include queer theory and idea of the tomboy identity relating to gender identity. The French drama movie Tomboy delves into this idea with a child Laure who is mistaken for a boy and choses to pursue this identity in her new town without her parent’s knowledge (I’m use she/her/hers pronouns here just for clarity as this is what Laure’s family uses throughout the film, but Laure uses he/him/his while with her friends). It’s a touching film that really explores how the definition of “Tomboy” is expanding and evolving to include ideas of gender identity.

Laure and Jo both have similar interests. Both characters are perceived by their society as being more interested in traditionally “boy” activities, however Laure is actually perceived to be a boy, while Jo is not. Laure is able to cut her hair short and wear what her friends identify as “boy” clothes, while Jo presents through dress as a girl throughout the novel Little Women. While watching the film Tomboy, it was interesting to consider how the gender binary and gender norms are still so prevalent in fashion to an extent. Additionally, it’s interesting to consider how the time difference between the writing of Little Women and the production of Tomboy play into the evolving definition of Tomboy.

As a young girl I was labeled a “tomboy” due to the way I dressed and the fact that I was very athletic, and I think it’s interesting to consider how this term will continue to evolve and expand in meaning over time.

1 thought on “Tomboy”

  1. Hi Grace!
    At first I actually don’t like the word “tomboy” as from my perception it is always considered a negative word. To my knowledge, some critics even questioned whether tomboyism will lead to lesbianism. However, I do think that behavior typical of boys but displayed by girls is not a true indicator of one’s sexual orientationI
    I definitely agree with you that a tomboy is a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors considered typical of a boy. It is quite interesting to see the relation between tomboy identity and gender identity. Like you said, the social norms regarding gender are still so prevalent in how one’s dressed up. However, there shouldn’t be “boy things” or “girl things”, there should be things that one likes.

Leave a Reply