I would not call my childhood self a tomboy. I remember sometimes wearing dresses, having long hair, drawing princesses and dreaming of being one. The word "tomboy" supposedly refers to a girl behaving like a boy. I combined behaviors considered boyish and girlish. I did not have to put myself into a gender box. I was just me. Well, this blissful state was not going to last forever.
It was not until recently that I realized why I felt so different in middle and high school. Other girls used cosmetics and acted in ways that I would now call "feminine". I think, I wanted to be like them, but I did not exactly know how. I was trying to learn, and the media became my guide. I remember looking through Burda magazines that my mother was collecting; admiring perfect hair, skin and outfits of female characters on television; wondering why on earth I could not look the same. These were painful years. It seemed to me that everybody was always looking at me, judging my appearance and finding my looks inadequate.
It was not long ago – three-four years, perhaps – that I started to care less. And only a couple of years ago I learned about scholarship on media representations of femininity. I wish I knew this stuff when I was growing up. This is another reason why I study gender; and this is why I study media; and this is why I am interested in education. I am looking for ways to help young people understand that they don’t have to judge each other according to gender standards contained in media texts; they don't have to painfully try to be perfect.
I wish everybody could be as carefree as I was when I was getting out of the forest, my coat torn, by boots covered in mud, but with a basket full of mushrooms and so so happy.