She’s Just a Tomboy

Tag Gallery – Los Angeles, CA – Nov & Dec 2019

A spoken word inspired piece. Read poem below.

How much are we effected both positively and negatively by external opinions of our personal presentation of self. Gender, beauty, aesthetic, attraction, functionality, comfort. Who am I? When do I become me? How much of who we are lies on the outside? In-front of a standing mirror with my back to the audience and my reflection looking out, I recited a poem as if directed toward both the audience and myself, while changing into various ‘outfits’ of clothing in a continuous attempt to feel good in my skin.

Performance for My Youth Exhibition curated by K. Ryan Henisey



She’s Just a Tomboy

by K.L. Cloonan

This body always feels strange – Internal struggle beats hard enough,
but hearing others judge cuts deeper still We speak from an imaginary set of rules
drilled into our minds that surfaces – even when we’re alone.
I’m not broken – I’m just a tomboy.


Inclusion is a form of exclusion – Unless I’m committed to your gendering box,
I’m cast aside as an oddity – My memories are filled with expectations
based on my body parts – “You’d look beautiful in a dress”
“You look better with long hair” – Since when was my identity
the business of strangers?


A girl playing soccer? – A girl digging up worms?!
Oh don’t you worry – I’m just a tomboy.


That explanation works for you, doesn’t it? – A label for you to wrap your head around
why I don’t want to participate – in your female expectancies.


The flame of my personality means nothing – according to your categories.
You’re fearful of what it implies for you – when you’ve given up so much of yourself
to satisfy the status quo.


It saves you from having to think too hard – about what it might mean for
boys to like playing dress up and for – girls to like power tools.
To simply say – “She’s just a tomboy”


Your body is yours – Too long have you let society stretch you
in directions your heart knows are not you – Don’t hide in the shadows of the inside of a box.
Unhinge those toxic rules nailed into your head.


Those cracks in your supposed system – are signs of growth.
They are not wounds seeping blood – but discoveries of self shining bits of light
out of the darkness.


Stop describing male emotion as sensitivity – Stop diminishing mans’ love for his mother
as him being ‘a mama’s boy’ – As if showing affection is reserved for femininity.


I’ll no longer accept your comfort – of believing I’m simply a tomboy.
What matters to me is being human.


The burden of your frown upon our bodies – your shallow perception of self crushing our bones,
the curse of lies you’ve been told about who you should be.


I’m not going to calm down when I feel angry – because someone told me it’s not ‘lady-like’ to scream.
A boy in tears shouldn’t have to ‘toughen up’ – to meet your skewed agenda for how men
are allowed to show emotion.


Don’t tell me your thoughts for how I should act! –
Don’t wish the rules you’re trapped inside – on anyone, including yourself.


Resist those false claims on your identity, on your body.
Because they can’t hide the truth – from any of us anymore.
The secret’s out.
I am so much more than just a tomboy.


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