Books and Movies That Celebrate the Tomboy

The next time you need something to read or watch, reach for a suggestion off our list.
The literary world and entertainment industry share commonalities. One is their fascination with the tomboy. A strong character with no gender attachment, they share their struggles, defy odds, and come out on top time and time again. If you’re looking for books to read and movies to watch that are anything but typical, read further for a list of suggestions that will have you craving more.
Books That Question Traditional Gender Roles
Authors for centuries have challenged gender roles. The tomboy has made an appearance in books such as Little Men, Little House on the Prairie, Pippi Longstocking, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Lord of the Rings. Modern authors have forgone gender roles in books such as The Hunger Games. Non-binary characters exist in modern titles, including I Wish You All the Best, River of Teeth, On a Sunbeam, and Symptoms of Being Human.
Many titles appeal to young adult audiences grappling with gender identity and sexuality topics which are discussed more frequently these days. Representation in books is crucial as it allows youth to feel supported in who they are and how they choose to identify themselves to other people. Reading about someone who feels the way they do can be very liberating, physically, and emotionally.
Films That Put the Tomboy Front and Center
For decades, tomboys have made their mark on movie audiences across the globe. If you grew up in the 1980s or are a fan of Writer and Director John Hughes’ work, you won’t forget Mary Stuart Masterson’s character, Watts, in Some Kind of Wonderful. In an iconic scene where the girls in her high school locker room give her a hard time about wearing “men’s underwear,” you witness how damaging gendering can be. Watts’ sexuality is questioned because of her choice of clothing and short hair, too. In classic Hughes style, the movie becomes less about the main character and his love interest, and more about Watts, who you can’t help but root for.
Other movies worth watching for the first time or revisiting include another Mary Stuart Masterson film, Fried Green Tomatoes, as well as The Runaways, The Legend of Billie Jean, Foxfire, Tomboy, Heathers, and Love and Basketball. The list is far longer with the appearance of tomboys debuting decades ago. Iconic characters who have crossed-over from literature to the big screen include Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Jo from Little Women.
Tomboys of the world unite! Smashing stereotypes and gender biases is nothing new for some of your favorite literary and on-screen characters. Make it a point to check out a book or movie that focuses on androgynous people. It encourages writers and producers to think outside the box and challenge traditional gender roles more frequently.
Do you have a favorite book or movie that features a tomboy? What is it that draws you to the literature or film?  Is it the clothing or neckties? If you’re looking to broaden your horizons by exploring different genres, refer to the list we’ve created for you. You may discover a new favorite among our recommendations.