A tomboy is a girl who behaves according to the stereotypical gender role of a boy. This can include various things:

Many girls can be seen as exhibiting a mixture of both tomboy and girly girl behavior, and this has been held up by many gender role students as the "ideal" female lifestyle as their view is that if a girl either exhibits an extreme image of a tomboy or a girly girl, she misses out on too many experiences. However, critics of this hold that such idealistic image of an intermediate, "uni-sex" behavior is a stereotype by itself, and too general to actually mean anything.

Some contribute, and some tomboys themselves think, the substantial cause of their inclination is spending their childhood and/or adolescence in an environment where the male presence or action predominates, and having therefore a lack of female role models. For example,

  • a family with:
    • more than 2 brothers and 1 or less sister, or
    • a single father
  • a school mostly of boys, hence the tomboy befriends few girls.

Historically tomboys were defined by both behaviour (according to the sterotypical gender role of boys) and wearing boys' clothing. In recent times, as the use of "traditional" clothing such as dresses, blouses and skirts steadily declines among females, the distinction has become almost solely one of behaviour.

A tiny fraction of tomboys may be diagnosed as suffering from gender identity disorder.


This "middle" philosophy was defined by one girl as "No I don't have any pink outfits or shorty shorts, I don't go for cheerleading tryouts, and I don't constantly stare in the mirror - but I also don't only shop in the boys department, dislike people for acting prissy, or get sweaty playing football every afternoon." [1]

See also: butch, sissy