Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Chops Her Hair, People Label Her ‘Tomboy’

shiloh jolie-pitt haircut tomboyI’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:



an 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?


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  • MapleJack-Kate

    I was often labelled a tomboy as a child because I liked to climb trees and play with Lego, even though I also played with Barbies with my friends. In my experience it was very rarely used as a derogatory label, but more as praise. I considered myself braver, stronger, faster, smarter and in all honesty just plain better than ‘regular girls’.

    The trouble with the word is, I think, that however you use it, it’s giong to be an unintentional insult to the girl concerned – even if they don’t realise it, as I didn’t. If you mean it as a bad thing then obviously you are stifling a girl’s personality and telling her to get back in her pink frilly box if she wants to be a valid human being – bad, bad, bad. But equally, by using it as praise, the labeller only confirms that rough-and-tumble activities and shorter hair are for boys, that ‘boy things’ are better than ‘girl things’, and that girls can only make themselves into more valid and worthwhile human beings by shucking off everything feminine and taking on masculine traits instead. Which is really no better a message at the end of the day. :(

  • Laura

    If you asked me what I wanted to grow up to be when I was five……I would have said “a boy.” But only because I had two older brothers and they got all the cool privileges like staying up later and running around outside with their shirt off.

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  • Diane

    Is it possible that she got gum in her hair and it was just easier to cut it short than to make a bigger mess trying to get it out….it happens!

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  • Jen Clark

    I was a “tomboy” as a child and still am, I climbed trees played in dirt, had enough legos to build a house, bins full of dinosaurs, a vast collection of pokemon and dragon ball z, and always had the latest console and more games than blockbuster, all while sporting my short hair, dirty face and grass stained “boyish” jeans. I actually did get alot of harassment from it, I also often got questions from other kids like “are you a boy or girl” or “if you’re a boy why do you have a girl name”. Despite constant harassment and being called “names” such as lesbian, dyke, fag, weirdo, and freak and growing up in small rural and southern areas from 1992, where only boys played with video games and dinosaurs, while girls stayed at mommies side helping with chores and baking while occasionally staring out the window as they brushed their dolls hair, and doing anything else is considered unnatural and a bad influence, I grew comfortably into my “boyish” self, and I’m not much different today, I still love everything that I loved as a child, video games and all. I think being tomboyish is a really fun and sometimes empowering thing, I can’t understand why anyone would think different.

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