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I feel guilty for being a tomboy

Dear Sam,

I'm a thirteen year old girl. I love football, formula one, and wearing sweatshirts and jackets, and I hate anything that is deemed as 'girly.'

I'm really not anything like a girl and sometimes I feel guilty about it. I go to an all girls school, and people at my school tell me that football is stupid and it's a waste of time and they don't understand why I go to matches and watch my local team play.

My mum doesn't like the fact I act and dress 'like a boy.' She doesn't like that I won't leave my hair down and that I don't wear 'girly' clothes like my sister does, and she says I always walk around looking like a boy and wearing black and dark colours all the time. I've wanted to cut my hair short for a really long time but my mum won't even let me do that.

I'm happy with being a girl, I don't wish I were a boy, but I just feel bad for liking this that are deemed as 'boy-ish.'

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

We live in a society that has a lot of gender stereotypes. Sometimes it can feel like certain clothes, sports or hobbies are more feminine or masculine than others. There’s no reason for this though, there are very few things that are only for specific genders. You might meet some people who struggle to see gender as you do, but that shouldn't stop you from being yourself.

Society's view on gender comes from a complicated history of equality and women's rights. Men and women are often seen as having different roles and abilities, but there's no reason it has to be this way. You’re an individual and you should be free to enjoy the things you want to do without someone else labelling you or judging you. Sadly, there will be people who don't see it this way.

Men and women should be able to do and wear whatever they want. Many leading athletes, scientists and business leaders are women who’re doing jobs that might have be seen as ‘men’s jobs’ 20 years ago. There are also plenty of men who wear and do things that some people say are feminine. Things are changing slowly and older adults may be finding it difficult to adjust to how things are now.

Your problem is especially difficult because it's your mum who’s not being accepting of who you are. Not feeling accepted can make us start to doubt ourselves, especially by your parents. The best thing to do here is to be honest with your mum about how that makes you feel. It might be a difficult conversation but if your mum understands the impact her words have on you, she might be more willing to listen. Try keeping a diary of all the times your mum says something that hurts your feelings, so that you can explain to her how each thing made you feel.

If you wanted to talk to Childline, there’s always someone here to listen..

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,

Sam

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