I’ve never given the word “tomboy” much thought ’til now. That’s because Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Brad and Angelina‘s 5-year-old girl, has a short new haircut. And suddenly, the world is quick to label her “tomboy!” I was about to go off on a rant about how having a “boyish” haircut does not make someone a tomboy when my boss asked casually, “So then what makes someone a tomboy?”
I was totally stumped.
In fact, I went so far as to look up the word “tomboy” in the dictionary and this is what it said:
nounan energetic, sometimes boisterous girl whose behavior and pursuits, especially in games and sports, are considered more typical of boys than of girls.
That got me thinking, Is “tomboy” still relevant in 2012? With all this talk of gender stereotypes and genderless babies, isn’t it time we abandoned the word altogether? Because, for some reason, it’s pissing me off to hear people shout out the term the moment they see little Shiloh’s new ‘do. Maybe that’s because it’s often said with disdain, as if it’s a bad thing that she might want to be more like her brothers.
On various websites and in real-time conversation, people are arguing that Angelina and Brad have gone too far in allowing Shiloh to act like a boy. In addition to her new haircut, Shiloh recently gave herself the new nickname “Shax” – which some say sounds like a boy’s name – and she’ll often wear boys’ clothes. But, without knowing a thing about the Jolie-Pitts aside from what I read in the media, I think that more parents should be like them!
This is 2012, after all. It’s time people realized that girls being interested in sports and video games – or boys being interested in dolls and crafts – means absolutely nothing. A 6-year-old boy proclaiming that he wants to marry his (male) best friend says nothing about his sexuality, and a 5-year-old girl chopping off her hair says nothing, either. It’s astounding to me not just that people give a shit, but that they’re so quick to throw a label on the kid as a result.
From photographs alone, Shiloh looks to be a playful little girl with a big imagination – qualities that would make any parents proud. Since when did helping your child develop her own sense of self – haircut and all – become a bad thing?