Permanent Tomboys, Perceptions of Maturity of GNC Women
One of the things that tires me out as a GNC woman is how young people perceive me to be. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because I am so often initially read as a young man or boy (no boobs, no receding hairline, short af) or if its because people’s mental image of a twenty-something adult woman is quite necessarily an image of a stereotypically feminine, attractive heterosexual woman. Either way, it gives them an excuse to condescend to me. It probably goes back to the trope of the tomboy kid eventually “growing out of it” and becoming a Full Fledged Real Woman–disidentification with femininity and refusal of the feminine role, for young female people, is thus associated with childishness and immaturity. It isn’t necessarily that tomboys are supposed to give up all of their apparently unfeminine interests: sports and outdoors and videogames, stuff that might actually make them desirable to men or somehow “not like other girls”, but they are definitely supposed to take up feminine interests as well at some point. Not doing so is a sure sign of social underdevelopment. GNC women are seen as these ugly ducklings who never became swans by failing that all important outgrowing step.
Even when people know I’m a woman they still seem to assume I’m younger, even in my late teens, and treat me as such. I never wear makeup, I never wear high heels. I never wear anything but baggy, comfy clothes. Placed next to my peers, I probably do look younger just because I don’t put in the same amount of work into a feminine appearance, and luckily I have a job where I don’t need to.
The problem is that I tend to internalize this sentiment and start to assume that I must actually seem and act younger. I fear that misinterpretation of my age/maturity will serve as yet another social stumbling block when I try to interact with others out in the world. Or, I fear that people will assume I am underdeveloped or socially deficient. I fear that I really am socially underdeveloped and deficient. In reality this anxiety is absurd. I’m a full grown woman with the same amount of experience and capacity for intelligence and competence as anyone else my age. At this point I’ve lived in four different states and I’ve held more than a handful of full time jobs. I have a degree. I can replace a radiator hose and follow directions. I’m a damn adult. I’m not less of an adult because I refuse to take part in the ridiculous heterosexual dress up and make-believe games that we believe to constitute “adulthood”.
Its not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things compared to homophobia and misogyny but its annoying to say the least and I’ve got a good amount of social anxiety around assuming that people are going to condescend to me. Waiting for that gray hair to start coming in, I guess.