Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Wants to Be One of the Boys But That Doesn't Make Her One


Shiloh Jolie-PittThis is an older haircut, but same idea.Shiloh Jolie Pitt is a girl, but as of this week, she "looks like a boy," according to published reports, because she (gasp!) got herself a new haircut. Yes, the 5-year-old girl is now sporting short locks and wants to be called "Shax" so that her name ends in the letter "x" like her brothers Knox, Pax, and Maddox. Now every publication from here to South Africa is calling her a "tomboy."

Okay, so maybe she does like short hair and maybe she does want to be "just like her brothers," but there are hundreds of ways to be a girl and maybe this is Shiloh's. I missed the memo where girls were supposed to wear dresses, have long hair, and only go by uber-femme names in order to be considered female.

In fact, the term "tomboy," while universal and certainly not meant to be demeaning or a pejorative, is actually quite frustrating.

As a mom of both a girl and a boy, I find our incessant need to label everyone and everything more than a little frustrating. Why can't she just be a little girl with short hair? Why does she have to be a "tomboy" with all the stereotypes that brings?

More from The Stir: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Changes Her Name to 'Ben'

She doesn't wear dresses? "Oh, she's a tomboy." That means she also hates dolls and play kitchens and loves sports and action figures, right? After all, as a "tomboy," she can't like "girlie" things.

Many people wear it as a point of pride, too. "My daughter is a tomboy," they might tell you, beaming at the idea that THEIR child isn't falling for all the insidious marketing tactics big companies use to sell fluffy pink tiaras and princess gear.

But here's a newsflash: If you use the term "tomboy," you are part of the problem. Our feelings about gender and what they mean in our society and to little kids like Shiloh Jolie-Pitt are expressed each time we label someone this way. Girls in pink, boys in blue, and everyone who doesn't fit those labels gets a name.

Boys who like pink? They are "princess boys." Girls who like short hair and black? They are "tomboys." And sure, I guess it's great that we even HAVE room in our language for such people, but it isn't so great that we aren't allowed to all be a little of both now and again.

Can I like sports and also paint my nails? Can I cut my hair short and also wear pink?

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The problem with words like "tomboy" is they push a narrow definition of what it means to be female, and by using it, we tell our kids we agree. Personally, I think Shiloh Jolie-Pitt is a lovely little girl who happens to like black and sports and running. This doesn't make her a "tomboy." It makes her like thousands of other little girls, some of whom have short hair, some of whom have long, and some of whom have varying lengths in between.

Let's get over these labels before they steamroll us.

Have you ever called anyone a "tomboy"?


Image via Splash

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femal... femaleMIKE

yes, i have used it many times. 

zandh... zandhmom2

I agree completely! I hate that people are always trying to place other people in some type of stereotypical box.  As a society, we have come very far in accepting peope for who they are yet at the same time if a child shows any signs of being their gender opposite, we're just as fast to label them as such. Kids go through so many phrases in their childhood so it's nearly impossible to judge who or want they will be as adult. 

nonmember avatar teacher lady

This poor child who, thankfully, probably doesn't read much, is way too commented on in mass media. (So here I go, adding mine to the heap...)

Thing is, people are so up in arms about her appearance, behavior, the small amount of public knowledge of her interests. They fear she may be a lesbian, trans-gendered, or just odd. So what? It's not our business if she is...besides the fact that she is a child and only famous because her parents are well-known celebrities.

I'm grateful to finally read a few words in defense of her style. I have always resented the forced nature of "princess culture" on little girls and when my daughter discovered it I gamely played along. She was really only modeling things her peers had shared with her. (age 4) She's past it now, though she likes to dress up, as a kindergartener she has realized the impractical nature of some attire for playgrounds, gym class, or art.

Go Shax, be your own person! Go Sasha, be a voice of reason!

Spaxy Spaxy

I guess I was a "tomboy" when I was younger. I didn't really pay attention to it much bcecause I didn't really care. I see your point that it's a sort of labelling but I don't feel it's as negative as one might think. It's just a general term to me. Boys and girls do different activities whether by nature or nurture or both. To be called a tomboy doesn't reflect any good or bad symbolism to me, just that a girl likes to play or do more "traditionally-boys" stuff. That's not to say they can't do girlie things or that they must only like boy stuff, just that they might be inclined to at that point in time. It's not a forever term, and you are not doomed to the identity. Just my opinion.

Mandago Mandago

My little boy's favorite color is pink. His favorite movie is Tangled. His favorite toys are guns and cars, and he wants to be a police man when he grows up. We need to stop labeling things as "girl things" and "boy things."

elibee elibee

So if your son wanted to dress up in a tutu and play with barbies would you let him?

nonmember avatar Jess

I was called a tomboy when I was a kid because I liked sports and playing in the mud, despite the fact that I loved dressing pretty and wore my hair long. Now, no one really knows how to label me. I wear a variety of style of clothes, have tattoos, paint my nails pink, and have worn my hair short, long, and everywhere in between. The point is, why label people when they are just doing what makes them feel right? I certainly don't try to put people in neat little boxes when we all know that most people don't fit into just one.

PonyC... PonyChaser

So now we can't call a little girl a "tomboy", because it might damage her self esteem and say that she cannot play with or even like pink, or barbies?

According to another story, we can't even call kids "girl" or "boy" because that's "gender labeling", and gender really only is a state of mind, that has nothing to do with the sex of a body - because we're not even what our bodies say that we are.

Heaven forbid we use words to describe things!!!

We have become so damn sensitive that everybody is wrong about everything!

Shiloh is a tomboy. So... what...? She's surrounded by brothers!! What do you expect?

I'll bet she grows up to be a beautiful young lady, inside and out.

pezch... pezcharlotte

Elibee, yes I would.


Spaxy Spaxy

Agreed with Ponychaser.

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