I Do Not Dress 'Girly,' But That Doesn't Make Me Less Of A Woman

by Toni Hammer

For as long as I can remember I’ve been referred to as a “tomboy.” As someone with a vagina who was practically born wearing blue jeans, I totally understand the sentiment. I’m theoretically not a “girly” girl. I’m not “feminine.” I’ve been told that dresses are feminine, but dress pants are not. Pencil skirts are appropriate for weddings and parties, but suits are frowned upon when you’re a woman.

To some, women who don’t wear dresses are deemed less feminine than those who do. To some, I was less feminine than my peers in high school because I wore football jerseys instead of skirts. To some, because I played basketball after school instead of getting a manicure, I was “one of the guys” versus a young “lady.” To all of them I would like to calmly say, “Bullshit.”

I sure don’t look the part of a girly girl as portrayed by magazines and media and society. Feminine means rouged cheeks, pearls, and ankles showing; none of those attributes apply to me which, until my 30s, made me feel less feminine and confident than my dress-wearing counterparts. Then I saw that pop stars like Rihanna, actresses like Evan Rachel Wood and Cate Blanchett, and the famed pant-suited politician, Hillary Clinton, have all famously eschewed dresses and not one of them is any less of a woman than someone who chose a ball gown.

Huh. Well, what do you know! Dressing less “girly” doesn’t mean less feminine.

What a woman wears does not define how feminine she is or is not. An old white guy — Shakespeare — once wrote that the clothes make the man. It’s fine and dandy if dudes want to associate with that idiom, but I vehemently oppose the sentiment when it comes to women. A woman can wear whatever the hell she wants and still be feminine, and attractive, and sexy.

Choosing to wear pants and flats, or sweats and sneakers, doesn’t make me (or anyone else) less of a woman. The idea that one woman is less feminine than another woman simply because she chooses to wear pants drives me crazy. It’s offensive.

At this exact moment, I own two dresses. Each of which I’ve worn one time. Both of which I wore because I was in a wedding and my attire was designated by the bride. If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you know that whatever the bride says becomes fucking law, and you do not stray from her wishes. Aside from those two moments, I haven’t worn a dress in a number of years.

Dressing in a stereotypical “female” just doesn’t do it for me. I feel awkward and out of sorts and less like a powerful badass, and the latter is the type of aesthetic I tend to aim for when I pick out my clothes in the morning. But make no mistake: The fact that I prefer to feel like a Joan Jett “don’t give a damn about my reputation” woman doesn’t negate the fact that I am, in fact, still a woman and feminine AF.

What makes a woman feminine is if she feels feminine. The term itself is subjective depending upon a person’s experiences, culture, etc., and if you’re wearing the self-confidence that says “I am woman, hear me roar” then it doesn’t fucking matter what clothes you’re wearing anyway. What matters is that you are wearing what makes you feel pretty and sexy and comfortable and kick-ass. If you’re doing that, then screw anyone who tries to label you. Tomboy, my ass. Keep roaring, ladies.