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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31829

Title: As the Body Unfolds: Examining Girls’ Changing Experiences with the Socially Constructed Labels ‘Tomboy’ and ‘Girly Girl’
Authors: Legge, Robyn
Advisor: Piran, Niva
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: gender
Issue Date: 10-Jan-2012
Abstract: This study explored the lived experiences of girls with the socially constructed labels ‘tomboy’ and ‘girly girl’. Using a prospective, life history, qualitative methodology, girls between the ages of nine to fourteen years old were interviewed up to four times over five years for an extensive embodiment project. The present study investigated girls’ narratives of the ‘tomboy’/ ‘girly girl’ dichotomy to deepen an understanding of how gender discourses affect how girls learn to live in their bodies. A total of 87 interviews were collected from 27 girls representing diverse social and cultural backgrounds as well as different urban and rural Canadian locations. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes using the constant comparison method from Grounded Theory. Examining the data from a feminist poststructuralist theoretical approach, three main dimensions emerged that described these girls’ experiences of living with these labels from childhood through adolescence. The first dimension described the shared cultural stereotypes of the ‘tomboy’ and ‘girly girl’ labels. The second dimension delineated the social outcomes in terms of the privileges and consequences associated with each label in childhood and in adolescence. The third dimension highlighted girls own negotiated self experiences and identities in relation to this gender dichotomy. Through its prospective design, this research uniquely delineated the complex range of experiences girls have within gender discourses and explored how labels work to control and restrict girls’ freedom to stay connected to their self and body.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31829
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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