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Real Women Don't Wear Dresses
aka: Real Women Never Wear Dresses

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Guess which of these women is the tough, competent one.
"And over time [the writers] realized that you don't have to put a sword in a woman's hand to make her seem tough."
Liv Tyler, on the development of her character Arwen from The Lord of the Rings

A woman is shown as weak, incompetent, and ineffectual unless she dresses and behaves in a masculine manner (and in some cases, ditches her heterosexuality completely and becomes a Celibate Hero or Butch Lesbian because attraction towards men is a "weakness"), or is otherwise applauded for being "Not Like Other Girls." A variation is a Tomboy and Girly Girl scenario, where the tomboy is presented as superior. It's not hard to spot the Unfortunate Implications: that traditionally feminine traits are weak and worthless and women must "masculinize" themselves to be taken seriously. It takes the old prescriptivist gender roles and merely inverts them, creating a new prescribed gender role that female characters must adhere to or be shunned.

And yet, the trope persists, and we record it. Between a woman in trousers and one in a dress, the odds are the trouser lady is going to be the Action Girl of the pair and the one in the dress is going to be a Damsel in Distress. Variations exist, of course, especially in works after the third-wave "Girl Power" feminism. Many of the straight examples are from older works, when having proactive female characters at all was fairly edgy.

See also Girly Girl, Pink Means Feminine, and the various tropes on Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits. The Spear Counterpart inversion of this trope is Real Men Wear Pink.

Compare Stop Being Stereotypical and Tender Tomboyishness, Foul Femininity. Contrast Agent Peacock, Girly Bruiser, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery, Lady of War, and Silk Hiding Steel, where it is the feminine character who is presented as capable, Vasquez Always Dies, where trouser-wearing and competence aren't enough to keep a woman alive, and Nothing Nice About Sugar and Spice when a female villain is traditionally feminine but very, very dangerous. Compare Female Misogynist. A woman who Hates Wearing Dresses might dislike dresses due to this viewpoint. See also Girl-Show Ghetto, where a dominantly feminine "girly" work is considered lesser quality, presumably due to this. See also Action Dress Rip, which can be interpreted as a justification of this trope in some circumstances.

Note: This is not an audience reaction trope. Only add examples where a character is derided by another character in-universe for having traditionally feminine traits, or where the work itself clearly portrays femininity as a sign of weakness, incompetence, or inferiority compared to other women.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach discussed/inverted this with tomboy Tatsuki and Orihime in the beginning, when Orihime has her speech about how it is her turn to protect Tatsuki instead of the other way around.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yae is being the first women matagi and is shown to have a short temper. She wears her hunter uniform during her introduction than traditional kimono dresses.
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: The female characters regularly involved in combat or important tactical decisions normally wear pants or shorts: this includes Bellows, Ridget, and the female soldiers seen during the opening sequence. In contrast, Amy, her friends, and other "noncombatants" who aren't capable of contributing much when pirates or whatnot invade are normally shown wearing skirts. This is somewhat subverted in that Amy turns out to be a lot tougher than she looks (as seen in the final episodes).
  • In Powerpuff Girls Z, Buttercup is shown to be reluctant to join The Team because it would require her to wear a skirt. Later she breaks her own code by wearing one in order to get the attention of a boy she has a crush on but realizes that she prefers her boyfriend to like her as she is and not for what she pretends to be. Despite the fact that she isn't complaining about the skirt anymore, don't mention it to her; just don't.
  • Subverted in the 60's version of Princess Knight. While Princess Sapphire and Friebe do their best ass-kicking while in masculine clothes, Sapphire learns to fight without her male heart, feels far more comfortable in feminine attire and it's implied that this is the way that's best for her. Friebe, meanwhile, is almost always seen in her armor, but wears a dress and brags about her ability to cook and sew as a selling point to convince Sapphire to marry her. Needless to say, none of their feminine traits stops them from being heroic and getting stuff done.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena:
    • Utena is an assertive Action Girl in a modified boy's uniform. In contrast, Anthy spends most of the series being a demure Damsel in Distress in a dress whose lack of Silk Hiding Steel keeps her from being a Yamato Nadeshiko. Later in the series, when the former asks the latter about what femininity is, the latter replies, "In the end, all girls are like the Rose Bride" — an Extreme Doormat Stepford Smiler Damsel in Distress who stands around looking pretty and obeying her master.
    • Utena is never outright forced into feminine clothes, but when she does, it's a sign she's being manipulated or emotionally put-upon. The only time she wore the female uniform was after losing Anthy to Touga and she believed she lost her right to be a prince. Later on, she starts to slip from her male uniform into more girly clothes after being seduced by Akio, who almost got her to slip out of being a prince to turn her into a princess.
  • In Saint Seiya, there are women Saints. There are, however, very specific rules. Since only men were supposed to be Saints of Athena, a woman must wear a mask to reject her femininity. Being a god like Athena works too.
    • For whatever reason, the spin-off Saint Seiya: Saintia Sho averts this with the Saintias, who all wear mini-skirts and no masks.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The infamous Stay in the Kitchen remarks by Jadeite in the first season, where he takes Tuxedo Kamen out of the fight and then mocks the girls. Moon, Mercury, and Mars responded with a Kirk Summation and an awesome Three Plane Fu.
      Jadeite: Can't you do anything without the help of a man? Women are such foolish creatures in the end! Bwahahahahaha!
      Mars: Hah! Only old men think that they're better than women in these days!
      Mercury: That's right! Scorning women is positively feudalistic!
      Moon: Down with sexual discrimination!
      The three: We must fight against Jadeite, that arrogant man!
    • Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon further speculates on how this show is an aversion of this trope.
      What I find fascinating about the series is that it really is girl power in action. It does not take traditionally "masculine" action tropes and simply gender swap them, no, and it does not deny or condemn the attraction of the pretty princess fantasy. Instead, it takes all the "feminine" girly stuff like frilly princess dresses and pink unicorns and makes them into implements of power. The hypothetical girl in the audience is being told that she can be as girly as she likes and still dream of growing up into power and responsibility. Feminine articles are not shackles or playthings to be eschewed, or tools good only for obtaining the approval of men — they are treated as cool and desirable things, in and of themselves.
      Boy craziness is even part of this, in the way they make the knightly romance fantasy an active one. The girls wanna be swept off their feet by a handsome knight, and, damn it, they're gonna go out there and find that handsome knight and make sure he does it.
  • Subverted in Sekirei:
    • The titular Human Aliens draw their strength from The Power of Love and are primarily female. Musubi wears a pink skirt, a massive bow tied around her waist, and enjoys cooking. She's also a Cute Bruiser capable of leveling a building with a single punch. The most powerful Sekirei? Miya Asama, a beautiful housewife that retired in order to settle down with her late husband. She's still a Person of Mass Destruction, without sacrificing an ounce of her femininity.
    • The guys are not immune to this. The most powerful male Sekirei? Shiina, an adorable, effeminate boy that you could mistake for a woman.
  • Skip Beat!: Kanae aka Moko deliberately calls out Kyouko when they meet only because she perceives Kyouko as a "House Wife"-type of woman who shouldn't stay near show business. Even later in the manga, when both have a kind-of-friendship and Kyouko has shown how scarily competent she can be when acting, Kanae still feels uncomfortable with Kyouko due to her own perceived contradiction between being able to do any domestic chores and being a reputed actress and entertainer. There is a twist: Kanae also acts as a housewife for her own very large family, as her parents are always traveling and her older brothers are no help, and seeing Kyoko reminded her of herself. Kanae's type of housewifing is more like an extreme sport and it's kind of easy to understand why she is so annoyed by it.
  • Defied in The Story of Saiunkoku where Shuurei was to take the male-dominated Imperial Examination, being the first woman ever to take part in the exams, Cool Big Sis Kouchou presented her with a gift of cosmetics and reminded her to never be ashamed of being a woman and to take pride in it. Shuurei then proceeded to wear makeup on the day of the Imperial Examination in a Mundane Made Awesome moment.
  • Inverted with Pao-Lin aka Dragon Kid of Tiger & Bunny, who is being pressured to act less masculine because her corporate sponsor thinks it would make her more popular. In the Grand Finale, she wears a sundress and hairclips but it's less about sponsors and much more about looking nice while going out with Mom and Dad.

    Comic Books 
  • Albedo: Erma Felna EDF: Averted in one story where Erma finds out, with Toki's coaxing, that she finds that occasionally indulging her feminine side, like buying and wearing a sexy dress and attracting the appreciative stares of males, is fun. However, she still is no less a soldier on this kind of off-time such as she spots a possible terrorist with a gun and she and Toki have him covered with their own sidearms instantly. It turns out to be only a camera with a pistol grip, but everyone assures Erma that it was a reasonable call.
  • Parodied in Rick Veitch's Brat Pack, with Straw Feminist superhero Moon Maiden. As she teaches her sidekick, Lunar Lass, that emotion and weakness are one and the same to warrior women. Attachments and relationships are for little girls and weaklings. When Lunar Lass gets pregnant, Moon Maiden freaks and speechifies about how a warrior woman needs no one, especially not a child. So she forces her to give herself an abortion with a wire hanger because she can't be a strong or respectable woman if she has a baby.
  • In The Fire Never Goes Out, ND Stevenson reflects on how in his teens he used to be averse to "feminine" aspects like getting married and wearing dresses. By the time he did get married in 2019 (to Molly Ostertag), he'd come to enjoy both for his wedding day.
  • Parodied as early as the 1950s, with "perfect little lady" Janie Jackson teased and compared unfavorably to the superheroine Tomboy ("That's what I call a real girl!") by her older brother, who never realized that Janie and Tomboy were the same person.
  • The Argentinian comic strip Mafalda: As Mafalda's ideas on women's rights were advanced by the standards of The '60s and The '70s, they come as more rude and stuck-up than well-intentioned to modern readers, especially when she constantly and very rudely tells her House Wife mother, Raquel, that she's "useless" and "mediocre" because she chose to raise Mafalda at home than juggle with work/college and motherhood.
  • Bendis' run on Uncanny X-Men mentions this trope. The female recruits are ashamed of wanting to go shopping "like normal girls". For—shock horror—clothes. And soap. And books. They have a whole spiel justifying it, but their teachers (of both genders) understand immediately and consider it a good idea.
  • The creation of Wonder Woman was William Moulton Marston's attempt to address this in society:
    Marston: Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.
  • Exaggerated in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) during the Heart Of The Amazon arc, where after finding children in a war zone Wonder Woman flashes back to her childhood, when her mother Queen Hippolyta was accosted by subjects and berated for allowing princess Diana to sleep with a doll, demanding the child to sleep with a weapon instead. This causes a teary Diana to throw away the doll on her own, to stop embarrassing her mother. Later the "Young Diana" backup feature shows Aunt Antiope, co founder of a splinter amazon tribe, periodically visiting Themyscira to spoil the princess with children's books, also teaching Diana arts and crafts from "Man's World". Hippolyta berates Antiope when she learns of this only for Antiope to retort that Diana is becoming a better fighter than Hippolyta and thus is "earning" the right to enjoy a lighter side of childhood. By the time Nubia is crowned queen it's shown these two tribes have softened their stance considerably, going to great lengths to make the new queen look elegant and regal to foreign observers. Captain of the guard Philippus dismisses the queen's handmaids for not doing a good enough job with Nubia's hair! Most amazons view "softness" as a tool for diplomacy rather than something to find enjoyment in, but it's progress.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm quietly averts this, with the literal example of Frigga, Queen of Asgard, who's a kindly and wise grandmother and an excellent healer, who usually wears very fine dresses... and used to be an extremely formidable shield-maiden, with Carol, who's not easily fazed, remarking that she's 'kind of terrifying' when she wants to be.
    • Diana Herculeis is shown being just as comfortable in fancy dresses as in combat gear.
    • Carol herself, the fic's chief tomboy, comes closest to playing this straight, but ultimately averts it: she favours shorter hair, is usually seen in battered jeans and a t-shirt, and tends to avoid fancy dresses and classical feminine wear. However, the latter is depicted as a reaction to her father's Stay in the Kitchen tendencies, and not wanting to seem to conform to such standards, and once she's got more confidence in that regard in the sequel, she happily dresses up in what her boyfriend demonstrates is literally jaw-dropping finery, revealing that she's a Tomboy with a Girly Streak (though does prefer trousers if combat is in the offing, for practical reasons).
  • This is Played With in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail:
    • Protagonist Chloe Cerise struggles with feeling stuck in the shadow of her father and Ash, struggling with the massive amounts of Double Standards placed upon her. Instead of wearing pants once she reaches the Train, she changes into a pretty beach dress and sandals, and lets her hair free from its usual braid. Does this make her weak or incapable of handling the Train? Hell no. Underneath this cute appearance is a girl capable of going to battle with nothing but a pipe and while she will fight, she is usually a Martial Pacifist unless you really cause her to snap with a Carrie-like prank. Her biggest trait is her kind heart, be it to a book Buried Alive to the former Conductor herself. The biggest lesson she learns is to accept the parts of herself that she had to hide because of the ostracization of not "being into Pokémon" while also learning that she can learn to like Pokémon with her own hobbies of horror writing and become her own girl regardless of what others force her to be. Moreover, a big part of the story is how she's saddled with unflattering nicknames — "Princess" being the biggest one, started by Simon Laurent to belittle her — and an Unown construct makes people see her as fragile, a stone statue or anything that's not human. The sequel has her learn to develop herself in her own way and that she just likes Pokémon differently.
    • Grace Monroe, the leader of the Apex, keeps her hair short and wears pants and sneakers. In comparison to Chloe, she has ballerina-like movements due to her dancing background and is the den-mother of a deadly cult. However, she's shown to care for them more so that they give her the love and affection she wants and not care about actually growing up. She does soften up when caring for Hazel even when she turns out to be part denizen but when it comes to actually fighting off bigger baddies, she ends up unable to do much unless she had a powerful knife that can cut non-humans. In the Final Battle, she's shown to be paralyzed with fear compared to the younger Chloe making strategies and standing her ground despite having died just an hour prior, and has come to terms to who she is as a person while Grace has realized that she messed up with how she just wanted to be noticed and the strongest.
  • Inverted in Abuse Cycle; While they're dating, Mako not-so-subtly tries to influence Korra to act more feminine, encouraging her to try out more revealing dresses, makeup, and wear her hair down rather than up in its usual Tomboyish Ponytail.
  • In Mirror, Mirror, the Webby from the original series winds up in the reboot universe. Her inexperience and struggle to hold her own in their adventures is related to her feminine traits, compared to her Action Girl counterpart (while ignoring that 2017's Webby has a girly side herself).
  • Averted in Leave me alone you spirit horse!. Daila (a farm girl trying to refuse the call) insists that she can't be a Herald: she doesn't like fighting or magic, and she knows how to sew. Her Companion is not convinced.
  • In An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Makoto dismisses Miyabi's opinion simply because she happens to be Keitaro's girlfriend. Similarly, she and Naru immediately turn on the newest tenant when she reveals she has a boyfriend.
  • Frigid Winds and Burning Hearts tries to avert this trope by having Storm Cloud (a pegasus mare in the Royal Guard) and Rarity (a fashion designer) argue over the significance of Cutie Marks, which show up when a pony finds what they're destined for. Storm Cloud's is a spear, and thus she joined the Guard; when she chews out Rarity for criticizing her masculine behavior, Rarity points out that Storm Cloud just blindly went with her Cutie Mark, while Rarity ignored the implications of hers (three gems) and went into design, making her the stronger of the two. The problem is that the fic radically misinterprets Rarity's mark by claiming it symbolizes mining; she got it after using gems in dress design, not finding the gems in a rock.
  • This perspective is lampshaded from an In-Universe perspective in Man of Dreams.
    After all, a woman as high-ranked as Mito was always at risk of being seen as weak, as emotional, as feminine. So of course she only wanted to marry for purposes of political alliance, or at least she would pretend that was the case. She couldn't allow herself to be accused of marrying for any other reason.
  • Between Three Rogues: The Hot-Blooded Air Pirate Aika initially isn't thrilled to have Fina tagging along with them, assuming that the sheltered girl is too weak to take care of herself. This attitude shifts after Fina saves her life with a Riselem crystal.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emoji Movie has Jailbreak, a princess emoji who despises the gender roles associated with them. This causes her to define her life in opposition to femininity, even rejecting romance. She seems to revert back to the exact opposite role by the film's end.
  • There’s a moment in Moana where Maui calls Moana a princess, something she protests against, with both of them treating the title as something with inherently negative connotations. Moana herself is very tomboyish and an Action Girl, so the implication is that she is offended by being associated with something traditionally feminine and 'weak'. That being said, her most defining character trait is her compassion - a most feminine virtue.
  • Strange Magic: The main character Marianne is a pants-wearing Tomboy Princess in contrast to her Princess Classic sister Dawn. Marianne gets to be a sword-fighting badass while Dawn spends half the film as a Damsel in Distress.
  • At the climax of Wreck-It Ralph, after Turbo is defeated, Vanellope is revealed to be the princess of Sugar Rush, with a fancy gown. She only wears it once more at the wedding of Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sgt. Calhoun, abdicating the throne because she feels more comfortable racing and serving as a president instead. In the sequel, her casual outfit inspires the other Disney Princesses to make their own casual wear outfits.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, Blanche Barrow is portrayed as The Load in contrast to Bonnie Parker and, in the real Blanche's own words, "a screaming horses' ass." Significant in that the two male leads, Clyde Barrow and Buck Barrow, aren't foiled against each other to the same extreme.
  • Averted with the Tomboy and Girly Girl Goldstein sisters from Fantastic Beasts. Tina is the tomboy, down-to-earth cop who mostly wears muted colors and trousers, in contrast to the setting of the 1920s. Queenie is the flighty girly girl who wears lots of pastel colors and only wears skirts. However, they're both talented, powerful witches, and neither is presented as being more powerful or smarter than the other. They're just talented in different ways.
  • Subverted in Fighting with My Family - where Saraya looks down on her fellow trainees who came from dancing, modelling, or cheerleading (read: traditionally feminine) backgrounds. Initially thinking they're a shallow Girl Posse only using wrestling as a stepping stone, she learns that they do care about wrestling too - and uses her experience to help them improve. There's even a subplot where she goes blonde, tans, and gives herself a Girliness Upgrade to fit in - and it's not shown as bad because girliness itself is bad, but rather because she's suppressing her own personality when she was hired for her uniqueness.
  • In Conan the Barbarian (2011) Conan makes a crack that wearing a dress makes Action Girl Tamara look like a whore, then gets her some leather armor. He didn't think this was worthy of comment when they first met, and it's played as a sign she's earned his respect.
  • Casey's mother from the Disney film Ice Princess says, "I know ice skating requires a great deal of athleticism and skill, but I just can't get past the twinky little outfits." Never mind that male ice skaters wear outfits that are almost as "twinky" and in some cases even "twinkier". Also, she's saying this about a sport that is dangerous on the level of gymnastics but has metal blades! This being a Disney film, by the end of the movie, the mother realizes she was wrong.
  • In a World…...: Real Women Don't Talk Like Sexy Babies. The main character starts a voice training course to help women speak in such a way as to be taken seriously as professionals. Which, judging by what we see onscreen, mostly consists of speaking in a lower register... in other words, more like a man.
  • The female classmates of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde hold similar views. Although none of the women are butch — not even the Straw Feminist — they are prejudiced against the main character's ridiculously girly outfits and her fondness of pink. They all adopt a sober, toned-down style and minimal makeup, and of course, they consider Elle to be a shallow Dumb Blonde without any of the skills or abilities needed for Law School. Elle started to change her fashion sense and attitudes to merge with the other students and look more mature and professional, but it didn't work for her. She started to feel repressed and uncomfortable, and anyway it did little to change the way the other students saw her. In the end, Elle just destroys the prejudices by becoming a successful and smart lawyer while still retaining her girliness, although her style changed from that of a ridiculously girly — and childish — teenager to a feminine young adult.
  • Mean Girls shows Cady's Face–Heel Turn being accompanied by girlier outfits, more make-up, and feminine hairstyles - as opposed to her more casual style at the start of the film (she didn't even own anything pink beforehand). Granted it's shown that the Plastics are more complicated than just being a brainless Girl Posse, but the least-feminine Janis's flaws are ignored by the narrative and Cady's return to a more casual style at the end of the film codes her redemption.
  • Lisa (Grace Kelly) frequently wears Pimped Out Dresses in Rear Window, but after she risks her life to help expose the murderer, she wears a blouse and blue jeans in the closing scene. She also does this to impress her boyfriend, who thinks she couldn't adapt to his lifestyle.
  • In Small Soldiers, Alan's mother is contrasted with Kristy's. Alan's has short hair, mostly wears pants, and when the Commandos attack she fights them off. Kristy's mother is long-haired, notably spends most of the film in a pink dressing gown, and willingly hides in the closet when the Commandos are attacking. Also Kristy is presented as a bit of a Ladette which is shown as a very positive thing. Especially when her Gwendy dolls (which she admits she has always hated) come to life — they are presented as Girly Bruiser fighters and Kristy takes great delight in smashing them up. Nothing at all symbolic about a teenage girl smashing up her doll collection eh?
  • Twister has the love triangle between Bill Harding's estranged wife, a down-to-earth country woman, and his stylish new fiance. Guess who handles the tornadoes better.
  • While Wonder Woman (2017) doesn't play into this trope, it was all over the promotional material. Gal Gadot excitedly told Ellen DeGeneres how happy she was that her daughter would have Wonder Woman to look up to as opposed to the Disney Princess characters.

  • Brandon Sanderson likes to play with this trope; he has a number of female characters that can kick ass, and are also generally comfortable with femininity.
    • Played with in Mistborn. The heroine Vin goes from Street Urchin to noble lady (first as a disguise, but eventually becomes the real deal), and also discovers she has incredible magical powers around the same time. She somewhat unsurprisingly really likes wearing fancy dresses, attending fancy balls and dancing, despite still being tough and scrappy street kid at heart. A good chunk of her character arc involves her coming to terms with the fact that enjoying dancing and wearing ballgowns does not conflict with being a badass.
    • The Sequel Series, Wax and Wayne, has a twist on this. Vin is now essentially a legendary/religious figure, and due to her example, women are sort of expected to be able to be both Action Girls and Proper Ladies in her image. Vin was able to pull of Kicking Ass in All Her Finery, but she was a badass even by the standards of other people with incredible magical powers. Expecting anyone to live up to her example of being both a one woman army and fancy noble lady is totally unrealistic. Marasi find herself struggling much the same way Vin did, due to her enjoyment of things like fancy dresses, while still also wanting to be seen as an effective and capable constable. She does manage to convince her boss to amend the policewoman uniform (which includes a long skirt) which is wildly impractical for riding horses by simply hiking it up and riding the horse anyways.
    • The Stormlight Archive takes place on a planet where a popular religion created its own form of gender roles: anything that can be done with one hand (art, writing, science, math) is considered feminine, while anything that requires two hands (swordsmanship, medicine, politics thanks to a loophole) is considered masculine. Women both within and without the religion have varying opinions on it. Jasnah Kholin is a scholar herself but also an atheist who dismisses art as frivolity, Dalinar's pagan wife Evi was bullied by other Vorin women for not being as intellectual as they were, and non-Vorin women tend to look down on Vorin women as weak and prim. Nonetheless, there are a lot of feminine Vorin women who are willing to get in on the action, and those that dismiss them out of hand rarely live to regret it.
  • Mara Wilson deconstructs this trope in her autobiography Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame. Due to society's value on femininity and attractiveness, Mara admits to resenting more glamorous girls who seemed to be better at putting on makeup or dressing more fashionably - only to have a Heel Realization when a very feminine girl is bullied by the less feminine ones in the class.
    "Anyone can play the game, but the only way to win is to not play at all."
  • Mercedes Lackey has a bad habit of using this trope. It's more pronounced in her early works, which often involve Action Girls trying to differentiate themselves from more feminine women, but it's evident from male characters and later books as well. Expect to see feminine women referred to with terms like "creature", "empty-headed", and "child-woman", to have very shallow motivations, and to have no will or inclination to push back against brutish men (who are often afforded a lot more interiority). The occasional woman in a skirt who spends no time or money on her appearance but is still pretty and is loyal to even terrible husbands and has no malice for people who've hurt her is maybe looked on favorably, but even they tend to be regarded with a certain contempt.
    • In the Heralds of Valdemar book Take a Thief, until Cymry shows up there is only one female character with a name, who appears once as a little girl who attends school with Skif and proves he's not a bad kid. She has no dialogue. All other female characters also have no dialogue but are universally scorned and if they have motivations at all those begin and end at procuring alcohol and shiny trinkets. Men in the Wretched Hive parts of Haven are characters and varied, women are just marks to be easily exploited, whether that means stealing from them or selling stolen things to them. Companions and Heralds who are female are people but aren't "frivolous" and have names and dialogue.
    • The most heinous peak of this is probably in the Heralds of Valdemar book Oathblood, where Tarma and Kethry are on scene when a monster-slayer about to be given the Standard Hero Reward sexually assaults a servant and then has her fired and ostracized for not being a good lay. They take the servant girl with them when they leave, but as she's only good at cooking and cleaning and is alarmed and uncomfortable when camping, they decide to find her a place without asking what she wants. They take her to a man that Kethry rejected as a suitor because he wanted to rule her rather than be an equal partner, refer to her as a "pet" for him to take in, and ride off saying that some women want a master. While departing they also discuss the woman the rapist monster-slayer will be marrying, who they saw in passing enjoying attention and looking stuck up, and say "I don't know who I should feel sorrier for!" and "They deserve each other". Because vanity and being a rapist are equivalent traits, apparently.
    • Vanyel's mother Lady Treesa in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy is silly and likes Courtly Love and encouraged Van's interests in fashion and music even if she doesn't really understand him. You'd think she'd be treated more kindly in the narrative than Van's outright abusive father Lord Withen, who Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child and goes to some pretty heinous lengths trying to 'cure' Vanyel. But Withen's thoughts and feelings are given quite a bit of attention, he is a complex character with good aspects, and he undergoes considerable Character Development that has him and Vanyel tearfully reconcile. Treesa is regarded with considerably more contempt and is very Out of Focus in comparison, more often talked about than to.
    • The Black Swan plays with this a little, as Odile is raised to think of the swan maidens as fickle and faithless and deserving to be turned into waterfowl, but gradually comes to get to know them and value their happiness. It's still got Prince Siegfried regarding all the princesses he's expected to choose a wife from quite poorly, except for the one who's a falconer.
    • This tendency makes its way into The Ship Who... Searched. When Tia has to choose a brawn, she complains that the selection she was first presented with contained two vain and beautiful ones with the personality of "tofu", both of them women. Oddly, she does not have this resentment towards Chria Chance with her Custom Uniform made out of leather in a setting where leather is a sign of serious wealth.
  • Animorphs:
    • Rachel and Cassie are inversions of this trope. Rachel is the toughest, most blood-thirsty, aggressive warrior of The Team and also the more womanly compared to Cassie. She is often described as a leggy, well-dressed, beautiful blonde who loves to go shopping, cares a great deal about outward appearances, often insists on improving Cassie's wardrobe, and goes shopping for the group when clothes are needed on the fly. Cassie, on the other hand, is the more feminine in nature, broken-hearted for everything that breathes, is the most hesitant to do battle and yet is the one who's always streaked with mud and worse from veterinary work.
    • In one story, Rachel gets a Literal Split Personality, where she becomes a classic example: Nice Rachel is an Extreme Doormat who plans out shopping trips like an invasion seeking pretty dresses, while Mean Rachel—who threatens to stab a girl who insulted her—shops only for leather. At the end of the story, they only escape because Mean Rachel has no choice but to listen to Nice Rachel to get out of a trap, although it's done in true Rachel fashion: by morphing fly and buzzing down Visser Three's ear canal and threatening to demorph right next to his brain if he doesn't let them out.
  • Explored a bit in All Men of Genius, where Violet's relationship with things stereotypically feminine is somewhat complicated. She starts out ignoring it all in favor of being something of a Wrench Wench, and then disguises herself as a man to attend Illyria Academy, but when she is able/required to change back for a while, she finds she doesn't mind dresses so much anymore (although acknowledges that this might just be relief at not needing to conceal her gender).
  • The Anderssons by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren develops a very strong pro-feminist message as the time goes by. And unfortunately, it ends up in the territory of this trope. Almost all the Andersson women have a career of their own, even if they are married and live in a time when married women were supposed to be housewives. Mandi is the only one out of four sisters to give up her career plans when she gets married, and she is punished for her "stupid" choice by ending up being abused by her husband ("that's what happens if you become dependent on a man, girls"). And the Girly Girl Åsa is treated as a more whiny and prissy person than her Tomboy sister Saga. But it seems to go the other way around too, as all the men have to give up their machismo (or not be macho men in the first place) if they want to be portrayed in a positive light. So you can say that the message is that all traditional gender roles, both for women and men, are bad...
  • Anne of Green Gables: While the title character is a daring, outspoken Fiery Redhead, she is also very concerned with physical beauty, jewelry, and fairies. Her assertive side and her imaginative, feminine side are portrayed as mixed bags independently of each other, and at times they overlap.
  • Notably averted in A Brother's Price: Women are the expendable gender, due to making up 90% of society. As a result, sexist tropes like this are non-existent. Women are implied to wear trousers, though what they wear exactly is seldom mentioned. Non-action-women are described as a completely normal part of society, and Jerin mentions having had a crush on his teacher, who is not particularly badass.
  • Carry On: Penny has this attitude a little, to her more feminine friend Agatha’s annoyance.
    Penny: Why do the gingerbread girls have to wear pink?
    Agatha: Why should the gingerbread girls feel like they shouldn't wear pink? I like pink.
    Penny: Only because you've been conditioned to like it by Barbies and gendered Lego.
    Agatha: Lay off, Penny. I've never played with Lego.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe concludes by saying, in a nutshell, that the two queens (with their appropriately royal dresses) were just as effective and beloved as the two kings.
    • In The Last Battle Susan Pevensie becomes "no longer a friend of Narnia" and the only mention of why is a line saying she's only interested in "lipstick, nylons and invitations". Many readers take this as a criticism of female sexuality though CS Lewis said of Susan: "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there's plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end... in her own way," which, coupled with things other characters say suggest her fault is trying too hard to grow up and forgetting her childhood. The other female characters Lucy, Jill, and Polly aren't said to be any less feminine than Susan. (Jill, for one, is explicitly stated to have smuggled her Narnian dress off the school grounds for use at a dance after The Silver Chair.)
  • K.G Hall's The Exalted Heroine, an academic analysis of 1700s novels, questions Robert Bage's belief in feminism because a protagonist he wrote was conventionally feminine. The plot's inclusion of a more logical, proactive woman (who is the protagonist's friend and saves her at several points) is paradoxically seen as marginalization, because of the perspective that protagonists are meant to be infallible and ideal; if the author really respected a minor character, they wouldn't be a minor character. This is akin to complaining because Dumbledore wasn't a protagonist; the main character who is wise and capable in all things rarely makes for an entertaining story. The possibility that Bage intended both women to be sympathetic is never considered.
  • The Famous Five's George is a tomboy who doesn't fit in with the gender roles of the period. She hates being seen as a girl.
  • In Feet of Clay, Angua tells Cherry (a female dwarf) that you can be any gender you want in the Watch, as long as that gender is male. Immediately subverted when she recounts her own efforts to do so, telling bawdy jokes that caused the others to flee in terror. A later book has her and Nobbs on Honey Trap duty, with Nobbs as the Honey Trap. When she asks him why he's in the dress, Nobbs, Dirty Coward and Non-Action Guy, has difficulty with the idea of Angua being the one to put herself in danger (plus, she was the backup).
  • In the 1883 manifesto A Few Hours in a Far Off Age, the author claims that a woman cannot be interested in both fashion and politics, and in a later chapter equates earrings to torture devices.
  • The Graceling Realm series includes a subversion: Katsa is a fighter, hates sterotypically feminine things (such as dresses and make up), and is resolutely against marrying and siring children with anyone. Fire, on the other hand, isn't much of a fighter and loves dresses, flowers, and music. However, the books treat them equally, and Fire turns out to be just as dangerous and competent as Katsa.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The series seems slightly disdainful of Girly Girls, as the likes of Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown are often giggling, gossiping or Squeeing over cute things. The most positively portrayed female characters in the series (Hermione, Ginny) are Not Like Other Girls and only have a hint of a girly streak.
    • Harry himself doesn't seem to like girls who are overtly feminine. His first crush is a Quidditch player Cho Chang, and he starts to lose interest in her after she cries a lot about her murdered boyfriend. Plus her non Quidditch playing Girl Posse are described as giggling and shallow. Ginny likewise doesn't earn his attraction until after she's shown herself to be a good Quidditch player, and Harry notes one of the things he likes about her; that she rarely cries, and attributes that quality to having six brothers.
    • Dolores Umbridge is surrounded by feminine imagery - such as lots of pink, a fondness for Cute Kitten-themed decorations, hair accessories like bows and Alice bands, and a voice described as "girlish". She's one of the most evil, sadistic villains in the series, and put in contrast to the likes of Minerva McGonagall - a Cool Teacher who's never described as particularly feminine.
    • Hermione Granger is subtly portrayed as Not Like Other Girls, especially in comparison to the likes of Parvati and Lavender. Her refusal to doll up except for special occasions is presented as an admirable character trait. Fanon imagined her as hating all girliness, and were outraged when the film adaptations had her wear a pink dress in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Ron's Romantic False Lead for her is the much more feminine Lavender (mentioned above).
    • Rita Skeeter is described as having a fondness for makeup, jewellery and elaborately curled hair - as well as bold and colourful robes. Of course she's a scheming journalist who writes Malicious Slander about everyone. Part of her Break the Haughty involves her becoming less glamorous.
  • Merrily subverted, defied, and averted all over the Honor Harrington series. Just to name a few examples:
    • Honor herself starts out very tomboyish, but she also suffers from a severe case of I Am Not Pretty. As she realizes she has grown into her awkward teenage looks (and falls in love with a man who loves her back), she begins to embrace her feminine side, particularly thanks to her adoption by the Cult Colony of Grayson (which adheres to very strict gender roles). Eventually she grows out her hair, and is even partly responsible for reintroducing skirts as a fashion on Manticore.
    • Queen Elizabeth III is a badass Queen and heavily respected in her own right. She is also unabashedly female, and is the other woman partly responsible for reintroducing skirts in her native star system.
    • Likewise, over in Haven, the former revolutionary assassin, sometime apparently-cold-blooded Political Officer, and eventual President of the Republic Eloise Pritchart is both absolutely lethal in a fight and the one single aversion of Eyes Never Lie in the series. She also retains long platinum-blonde hair, is the most stunningly beautiful character in the 'verse, and gets an enduring on-screen romance that remains one of the half-dozen or so most prominent in the entire series despite the huge cast— thereby putting paid to the notion that women who fall in love are somehow "weak".
    • Michelle Henke, meanwhile — a starship and eventual fleet commander in her own right — is a straight-up tomboy (she even goes by the nickname "Mike"), but is best friends with Honor and even encourages Honor in embracing her femininity. Honor even goes to Mike to learn how to do makeup!note 
    • Lieutenant Abigail Hearns, Miss Owens, is a badass Grayson-native naval officer and tactical specialist who is accomplished in dealing violence both with ship-based missiles and, in far closer quarters, with grenades. She is also unabashedly feminine, being responsible for the introduction of an ankle-length skirt as part of the regulation naval uniform and refusing to cut her long hair even while on active duty, despite it being an absolute pain to wash.
    • And just to round it all off, Elaine Mayhew, the junior wife of the Protector of Grayson, is a traditional House Wife who isn't professionally employed at all, is never seen wearing anything but a skirt, is soft-spoken and quiet, and is not at all good in a physical fight. She is also extremely well-grounded in math, the sciences, and particularly finance, with Honor considering her to have the equivalent of a university degree in the latter subject, as well as an excellent mother. And she is also in no way at all portrayed as 'lesser' than any of the other women in the series.
  • In House of Leaves, at one point it summarizes interviews between Karen (who's claiming the events are fictional), and a number of celebrities. One such celebrity is a feminist who chastises Karen's "character's" nyctophobia, dismissing it with "No self-respecting woman is afraid of the dark."
  • In the Hurog duology, there is Tisala, who can fight and has short hair, but does wear dresses at formal dinners and similar occasions.
  • Jane Eyre: The title character's more conventionally feminine and pretty classmate Helen dies early on. Whether Helen should be thought of as Too Good for This Sinful Earth or not strong-willed enough to survive depends on the critic.
  • In the Kitty series of children's books, the tomboyish Kitty is frequently at odds with her prissy cousin Melissa who loves pink frilly dresses and ribbons in her hair. When Melissa starts at Kitty's school, she is unpopular with the other kids. Kitty comes back to school after a week off sick and discovers Melissa has cut her hair short and started dressing in baggy tracksuits. She is now popular and liked by everyone.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians and its sequel series The Heroes of Olympus: All the most prominent action girls are tough tomboys with a heart of gold, while the stereotypically girly Aphrodite cabin is written off as being weak, shallow fighters. Its most prominent member Silena is given depth and characterization but is also revealed to be The Mole, having been seduced by a villain. However, she ultimately dies using her Charm to pose as Ares' daughter Clarice after the latter refuses to rally the troops. In the sequel series, Piper is revealed to be one of them and expresses disdain for their shallowness, vanity, and overall femininity, but she does learn by the end of the series that girliness can go hand-in-hand with strength.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope in Plato's The Republic, where Socrates contends that women have the right to the same education and civic duties as men... just so long as they act identically to men. The idea of educating women the same as men was, however, in its day, so highly progressive as to be considered ridiculous in Athens at the time.
  • Jane Rizzoli of the Rizzoli & Isles series is absolutely miserable and uncomfortable in the dresses she has to wear as her pregnancy progresses, as they're a far cry from the dowdy pantsuits that she prefers—even her wedding "dress" was a white pantsuit.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The two Stark girls draw an unflattering contrast between masculine and feminine behavior while deconstructing them at the same time. Arya is a tomboy whose interest in swordplay helps her overcome many trials (which slowly eats away at her humanity until she discards her identity and becomes a literal tool of murder), while Sansa, who is better at traditional feminine pursuits, spends half the first book as a victim of abuse and torture. Once she's gotten past most of her initial idealism, Sansa becomes much more politically aware, and her femininity and awareness of social customs help her as she keeps house for and trains under the series' resident Magnificent Bastard. The girls' mother Catelyn is a much better blend of confidence and femininity.
    • The sister-wives of Aegon the Conqueror also play with the trope. Visenya wielded a Valyrian sword, established the Kingsguard (and started with cutting her brother's cheek), and was generally acknowledged as the fierce and stern one. Rhaenys was lovely, friendly (unless you are Meria Martell), and a patroness of arts. Results: Visenya is usually remembered as a wicked queen, who had (maybe) poisoned her stepson/nephew to make way for her own son, Maegor the Cruel. Rhaenys was beloved by her brother and the smallfolk. Apart from vague rumors of infidelity, there's nothing said against her.
    • A clearer example is Jaime Lannister's two most important female relationships. One, Queen Cersei (the one in a dress) is manipulative and unfaithful, with a talent for ruining everything she tries to meddle in, and a belief that violence is a sign of strength.note  The other, Brienne of Tarth (the one in plate armor), is the closest thing Westeros has to a true Knight in Shining Armor. While in an (explicit) relationship with Cersei, Jaime acts like a Jerkass and kicks puppies without a second thought; while in a (budding and rough-starting) relationship with Brienne, he both rediscovers his inner goodness and becomes more successful as a knight and military commander. Interestingly, Cersei is a Boomerang Bigot who hates other women and considers them and traditional femininity weak, tries to prove herself "better" than they are, and wishes she were a man, while Brienne respects other women whether they conform to traditional gender roles or not, even wishing she could be a traditional woman but can't due to her size.
  • In the SOPHIE series by Dick King-Smith, protagonist Sophie is a tomboyish, animal-loving little girl who always looks untidy, and wears jeans and rubber boots. Her designated enemy, the prissy Dawn, wears dresses and pigtails and is mocked by Sophie for being vain.
  • The Spy High series, where beautiful, blonde, fashionable Lori is the most ruthless of The Team, especially when provoked; the less looks-conscious Cally is The Heart and eventually wins the love of leading man Ben. Bex, the biggest Action Girl of the team, rejects feminine dress and looks completely; with punk clothes, many piercings, and short spiky green hair.
  • A Tale of Two Cities plays with it. Lucie Manette is the ideal of pre-Victorian femininity and pretty damsel in distress. The only badass female character on the side of good, Miss Pross, is described as mannish and so ugly that it doesn't make a difference when she is disheveled after a fight. Madame Defarge is the only major female character portrayed as both womanly and powerful but she's also a villain.
  • These Broken Stars: Lilac begins her and Tarver's survival adventure in a Pimped-Out Dress and stiletto pumps. After many miles of hiking and no end of Clothing Damage, they reach the wreck of the Icarus where she ditches the remaining scraps of dress for jeans and a shirt.
  • Merrily defied in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce.
    • In the first quartet, Song of the Lioness, Alanna starts out hating the fact that she's a girl and wishing she were a boy because she wants to be a knight. She tells her brother that part of her motivation for the switch is to go towards knighthood and away from ladyhood. Part of her Character Development is coming to accept and enjoy her femininity even in the midst of her eight-year-long stint as a Sweet Polly Oliver. It does not detract in the least from the fact that she is badass and becomes a legendary knight—in the last book, her current lover Liam pitches a fit over her wearing a dress at one point because he can't fit her into a neat stereotype box when she's a warrior and feminine, serving as a portent to their eventual breakup.
    • In one of the short stories, Fedal complains about women of Tekalimy's Islam Expy religion being forced to wear veils, and she gives a speech about how she likes wearing them since it means she isn't judged on her looks. Another short story follows this girl as she speaks for the female side of her god as a prophet, but continues to wear the veil.
    • Daine from the The Immortals quartet also hates dresses, but for a different reason: she's a very outdoorsy type and skirts are monstrously impractical. It's for this reason that she absolutely loathes anything with too much frivolous decoration. On the other hand, when she knows in advance she has to dress up and gets to pick a dress she likes, she's shown to enjoy looking pretty from time to time.
    • In the Protector of the Small quartet, Kel is the first girl to openly train to be a knight. She insists on wearing dresses to dinner each evening, just to remind people of her gender.
      Lord Wyldon: If only you'd been born a boy, Mindelan.
      Kel: But sir, I like being a girl.
    • In general, the women who aren't Action Girls or otherwise warlike are not demonized for knowing and enjoying feminine things like needlework (and some of the Action Girls and the male knights are shown doing needlework themselves). The overall theme here is that it's equally okay to be a tomboy or a girly girl.
  • In Victoria, the Azanians go so far as to regulate this in law, banning dresses in their country. Made slightly less silly by the backstory: they are feminist separatists in a very dystopian Crapsack World, and consider the old styles of clothing a symbol of their former slavery under men in a drastically misogynistic nation, from which they have now escaped.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Cougar Town, Bobby makes friends with a tomboy named Riggs. Travis and Grayson turn Shippers on Deck and try to convince him that Riggs is girlfriend material by making her over but when Bobby sees Riggs on a dress, he breaks out laughing because the sight of it is ridiculous to him, "like a dog wearing sunglasses." Rather than feeling embarrassed or outraged, Riggs agrees with Bobby and the two continue their platonic relationship, which eventually becomes romantic.
  • Doctor Who generally avoids this very well, but the story "Horror of Fang Rock" spends a lot of time contrasting the girly, ineffectual Screaming Woman Adelaide with the badass companion Leela. For instance, the serial also goes out of its way to show Leela changing her uber-feminine 1910s dress for male clothing, and strong attention is placed on a sequence in which Leela slaps Adelaide in the face (at a time when it was still normal to show male characters slapping female ones in media).
  • Fate: The Winx Saga: In stark contrast to the cartoon, The Fashionista Stella becomes an Adaptational Jerkass - portrayed as a prissy Alpha Bitch who only takes a small level in kindness towards the end of the season. She's put into a Love Triangle with Sky and Bloom - who is now portrayed as being Not Like Other Girls.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the books it's based on, Arya didn't really have this attitude since she was fine with other girls being girly and didn't really hate feminine things so much as wish they weren't forced upon her since she is naturally no good at them, which makes her feel self-conscious. The show, however, is a different matter, giving Arya this exchange.
      Tywin: Aren't most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?
      Arya: Most girls are idiots.
    • Talisa gives an 'empowering' speech about how she gave up her privileged life as a Volantene noble to volunteer as a field nurse. Specifically she draws a comparison between herself and the other ladies who wasted their time with dances and balls. Quite a few critics pointed out that she could have done lots to abolish slavery in Volantis by using her status at these dances and balls to recruit like-minded people to the cause.
    • Subtly done with Sansa Stark. In the first four seasons - when she is closest to her book counterpart - she is an extreme Girly Girl who wants nothing more than to be a princess. Her defining traits are her compassion and quick-thinking duplicity - very feminine attributes. The books have Sansa maturing not by losing those traits, but getting wiser about who is worthy of her compassion. The later seasons of the show have her implying that getting raped by Ramsay Bolton helped her Took a Level in Badass - not coincidentally becoming more outspoken and placing value on masculine attributes like aggression and desires to humiliate her enemies.
      Lindsay Ellis: "Sansa's compassion and appeals to goodness are framed not as a strength, but as immature weakness that she needs to outgrow..."
    • Brienne of Tarth was already an Action Girl in the original books, but it's always juxtaposed with her kindness, honesty and chivalric nature, and a lot of Heroic Self-Deprecation about being unable to be feminine in a patriarchal society like Westeros. The series' version of Brienne, meanwhile, goes more into this trope, to the point that her Armour-Piercing Question to Jamie Lannister in A Storm of Swords ("are you so craven?") is turned into an observation that he's "moping like a woman" in "And Now His Watch is Ended".
  • Deconstructed in Homicide: Life on the Street with Detective Kay Howard. Having to constantly repress her femininity to earn the respect of her male colleagues has left her out-of-touch with other woman and something of a Female Misogynist.
  • Punky Brewster usually avoid wearing dresses, but the times she has worn one was out of necessity of the circumstance. She dressed as a 50s doo-wop girl for Halloween and later dressed up disguised as Margaux so she could sneak out of Fenster Hall to see Henry at the hospital.
  • Played straight on Robin Hood which saw Djaq, an intelligent, resourceful, competent Action Girl who always wore pants written out at the end of the second season and replaced with Kate, a girl who wore an impractically long dress out in the forest, and whose contributions to the outlaw gang included a string of kidnappings, bitching, and a Romantic Plot Tumor.
  • Sometimes used in Super Sentai, which is fond of the Tomboy and Girly Girl trope: if there are Two Girls to a Team, typically the Pink (or White) Ranger will be girly and wear skirts/dresses, while the Yellow (or Blue) Ranger will be more tomboyish and wear shorts or pants. Early series would lean towards making the tomboy the stronger warrior, while the girly girl would be more of a pacifist and often have a less powerful weapon.
  • Supergirl (2015)
    • Alex is a tomboyish DEO agent with Boyish Short Hair and very masculine clothes (save for one episode where she dolls herself up to go on a date to extract information from the villain). A flashback to her past - where she was in a bad place and her life was spiraling out of control - shows her with long feminine hair and girly nightclub wear.
    • While Kara is not necessarily tomboyish when she gets hit with Red Kryptonite, her Face–Heel Turn is illustrated by her wearing more high-fashion outfits, more make-up and styling her hair more fashionably.
    • Cat Grant arguably averts it - she dresses fashionably, takes care of her looks, and tries to be a good mother, but she's also a tough-as-nails businesswoman and one of the most forceful characters on the show. When she names the city's new heroine "Supergirl", Kara tries to suggest a more mature "Superwoman", only to be shot down - what's so bad about being a girl?

  • Deliberately invoked with a twist in the very NSFW song "Only Straight Girls Wear Dresses" by CWA, in which a Lipstick Lesbian reads the title in graffiti in a bathroom, finds the perp, and convinces her otherwise; with sex.
  • Daya's "Sit Still, Look Pretty" pokes fun at other women who dress up and wear expensive jewelry.
  • The song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" has a verse that traditionally goes: "Johnny wants a pair of skates./Susy wants a dolly./Nellie wants a storybook/She thinks dolls are folly." However, complaints got raised that the song was stereotyping all girls to want dolls, even though only Suzy wants a doll while Nellie thinks dolls are stupid. A politically correct version, therefore, was written, which goes: "Johnny wants a pair of skates./Susy wants a sled./Nellie wants a picture book./Yellow, blue, and red." So Suzy is no longer "stereotyped" but as a result, Nellie is now illiterate. Hooray for... improvements?
    • Another version fixes the new problem by saying "Nelly wants a storybook, one she hasn't read."
  • Marina Diamandis "Girls" is from the perspective of a girl who believes that her fellow female peers are boring and shallow because they don't "think like a guy." Marina nowadays admits to cringing when she hears the lyrics.
  • The video for P!nk's song "Stupid Girls" equates "stupidity" with feminine things such as playing with dolls, putting on make-up, and wearing anything pink while equating being smart with being a tomboy and physically strong. The end of the video has a little girl choosing to play football instead of playing with her dolls.
  • The Taylor Swift song "You Belong With Me" has the line "she wears short skirts/I wear t-shirts," and "she wears high heels/I wear sneakers," and makes it clear that her close friend's high-heel- and dress-wearing girlfriend doesn't understand him.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peanuts had Peppermint Patty, the most athletic female character, wear shorts in contrast to the other girls' dresses. What's interesting is this is actually a minor point of angst for Patty, who has severe self-image issues (she once broke down crying upon seeing the Little Red-Haired Girl, her Unknown Rival for Charlie Brown's affections) and wants dearly for someone to see her as beautiful. That said, however, a short arc showed Patty being not at all pleased with her school imposing a dress code forcing her to wear a dress. The conclusion we can draw from this is that while Patty wants to be seen as beautiful and feminine, she wants it on her terms, and not at the expense of her natural tomboy personality or athleticism. Lucy and Sally later stopped wearing dresses in the 1980s.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • La Tigresa's supposed issue with Amarillis in WWC was her being an untalented model hired for her looks. Turned out her actual issue was more along the lines of jealousy, as Tigresa wanted to keep Amarillis from becoming a good wrestler and getting into contention for her woman's title.
  • This is the reason Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' failed to turn around after it was turned into JD Star by Hidenobu Ichimaru. Jd' had already lost its purpose after Jaguar Yokota left, as it was created to push her but Ichimaru's attempts to salvage it revolved around scouting girls with model-level good looks to train in the jd' dojo in an effort to produce wrestlers who would become actresses. The process produced both the worst and the best wrestlers to ever come out of Jd' but the very ideas of looks being first priority and entering pro wrestling as a stepping stone to something that wasn't even a sport were too off-putting to the wider puroresu community, with some joshi eschewing Japanese Politeness to state an "athtress" had no business in the ring with them.
  • Early TNA stable "Bitch Slap", Nurse Veronica, Traci Brooks, Cheerleader Valentina, and Trinity, were out to improve the image of women in the company by removing those they deemed undesirable. That's right, they were trying to remove the T&A from a pay-per-view company called TNA. Their main targets were cage dancers but they confusingly picked on jobber Daizee Haze too.
  • Implied by Nikki Roxx, when "Barbie Crusher" and "Bimbo Plant" were settled on for the names of her finishing moves. Fans had a tendency to chant "Barbi Doll" at her opponents too, up to and including Hailey Hatred (who often does wear a dress, incidentally) at APW's first ChickFight tournament.
  • Best known for working in CMLL and Southern Mexico's Women Wrestling Stars, her catchphrase, "Soy luchadora no modelo!", suggested Starfire was of this mindset. However, she did do photoshoots as High-Speed champion in World Wonder Ring ST★RDOM. Faced covered shoots, but shoots all the same.
  • Tammy Lynn Sytch's feud with The Lovely Lacey and later The Age of the Fall started when she praised Daizee Haze and Lacey for being real wrestlers and Lacey responded to say that Sytch was a Diva who did not belong in Ring of Honor. (it should be noted this was provoked by Sytch's past Stay in the Kitchen attitude, which Lacey never forgave Tammy for)
  • After her aspirations for grace, infatuation with "The Indy's Most Hated" Amadeus, and any friendly tendencies she had left all died, this became a part of Sienna Duvall's gimmick. Having encountered one too many "divas" in the business, it became her aim to root them out and beat them until they give it up.
  • After a brief stint with TNA, "The Wrestling Goddess" Athena returned to Traditional Championship and Mid-South Wrestling expecting acceptance from Malia Hosaka, who instead told her all Athena had done was prove she thought being in a squared circle was all about T&A. However, Hosaka had to grudgingly admit Athena was tough and talented after they split a series.
  • This became The Anti Diva Serena Deeb's secondary gimmick in FCW while she was in the Straight Edge Society of WWE. She soon enough inspired two successors in Anti Divas Sofia Cortez and Paige. (perhaps because they lacked the primary gimmick, the latter two got huge pops). Judging by some of Sweet Nancy's comments, it seems she and Leandra also took on an "anti-diva" mindset in EWO (and not to pops).
  • When World Wonder Ring STARDOM started up, one of the audience alienating premises was its imitation of the "glamour" approach JD Star took up midway through its lifespan, with the hiring of a swimsuit model or "gravure idol" Yuzuki Aikawa being a particularly strong point of contention. While Aikawa would quickly earn the sympathy of fans after recovering from a thorough thrashing given by Nanae Takahashi(which also established STARDOM as the most violent non shoot, non garbage joshi fed), several other wrestlers remained resentful, to the point efforts to ruin "Yuzupon's" looks so she couldn't return to modeling became a Running Gag.
  • This was turned into a storyline in WWE in 2011 with Beth Phoenix and Natalya's heel turns, the two of them proclaiming they were sick of the models in WWE. Interestingly on WWE's part, they kept both sides with a sympathetic point of view; Beth and Natalya wanting to make the division more serious and about wrestling, while the likes of Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres trying to prove themselves as wrestlers.
  • OVW had two new glamazons after Beth Phoenix got called up who provide two different variations. Paradyse is a femboy who likes his women mannish while Epiphany is a bully who likes torturing those she considers "divas".
  • This article discusses this trope in relation to the WWE Divas and offers a neutral stance on the debate.
  • TNA would be at it again with Jacqueline and ODB singling out Velvet Sky and accusing her of ruining the knockouts division with her girly girlness.
  • On the July 28, 2012 episode of Ring of Honor TV, there was a clip of Sara Del Rey attacking Maria Kanellis during a brawl between Eddie Edwards and Mike Bennett. This cut to an Edwards promo where he said that he could do anything he wanted to Mike Bennett but he couldn't put his hands on Maria, so he got someone who could. Sara walked into the scene and called Maria "disgusting. You worry about your hair and your nails when a real woman would break you in half."
  • Sara Del Rey subjected XFC cage doll dancer (and former queen of FCW) Angela Fong to an extended squash to prove models can't be wrestlers, at least not good wrestlers. This had extra humiliating aspects, as Fong was fresh off leaving WWE, had a strong reputation as a fitness model, and got completely dominated, with Sara winning all 3 falls, and Fong getting no offense whatsoever.
  • After being invited to compete at SHINE, Jessicka Havok took a liking to the company and became protective of it. Her first act in SHINE's name was to cripple earlier invitee Reby Sky, who Havok reasoned had only been contacted because of "smut" and had to be removed from the roster if the promotion was to ever get any respect. Interestingly, Havok tolerated sharing the Crossfire roster with Sky immediately before having a fit at seeing her in SHINE.
  • Jessie Kaye (JK Kennadi Brink on Sparkle to distinguish her from Jessie McKay of Team Australia) is a diva despising wrestler. Her issue's that she had an unhappy, fat childhood and saw the same type of people who passed her up and then continuing to do so in her profession of choice.
  • The Deathmatch Diva Slayer Jewells Malone, who would like to introduce her perky, dancing, rump shaking classmate Seleziya Sparx to a heavy object wrapped in barbed wire. Malone's not above wrestling in a mini dress, though.
  • On NXT when there were around six Divas, the babyface side consisted entirely of girls with Tomboy gimmicks: Kid-Appeal Character Bayley, woman-child Emma and the Anti-Diva Paige. The heel side was a stable of girly girls known as the BFFs - creating some Unfortunate Implications. In 2014 this was reversed as the heel side included Tomboy Becky Lynch and the face side gained Cute Bruiser Alexa Bliss.
  • Hayley Shadows was once a fairly girly girl by pro wrestling standards. But that girl died, and the former "cuddle monster" stated her "Dead Barbies Tour" in 2017 to add to the graves.
  • Jade Chung initially wore very flashy outfits, including tight dresses and skirts, early in her wrestling career, but when she decided she wanted to have more of an in-ring career, she adopted this mentality and mostly wrestles in more conventional ring gear.
  • Trish Stratus started out as The Vamp, using Distracted by the Sexy tactics to bamboozle The Dudley Boys during their feud with T&A, the tag team she managed. Later, she became a Gold Digger trying to seduce Vince McMahon. Her regular outfits consisted of short skirts and tight shorts. When Character Development made her a more serious wrestler, she mostly stopped wearing dresses and gradually phased out shorts in her ring gear in favor of long pants. Instead of trying to seduce men, she was more likely to be targeted by male wrestlers and authority figures, most of whom she had zero interest in.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The first known wargame, Little Wars, published by H. G. Wells in 1913, has a subtitle claiming it to be "a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books."

  • In-story, Lady Macbeth has this opinion of herself. She calls on evil spirits to make her less feminine and able to kill Duncan.
  • At first, Wicked suggests that the pink-clad Glinda is an Alpha Bitch who betrayed the more hard-working and tomboyish main character. The two become best friends, and learn from one another to overcome their respective faults. The apparent "betrayal" was something both of them were in on.

    Video Games 
  • In Choice of Kung-Fu, if the player chooses to make their avatar female, this trope will potentially affect dialogue. When she sees a badly injured woman collapsed on the road, she has three options: to immediately help, to cautiously investigate the situation further, or to callously walk past on the basis that "it's women like her that make it so hard for women like me to get respect". Doing the latter will fail Master Zhuge's Secret Test of Character and earn her dislike. Zhuge is female, incidentally.
  • Averted in Long Live the Queen. If Elodie completely refrains from raising her courtly talents, she'll likely alienate her allies and stand alone against her enemies. As one review put it, "You can't make a successful Arya without adding a little Sansa."
  • Odin Sphere: Just about the only thing the Valkryies of Ragnanival fear is getting married. Mainly because it usually entails getting hit with a love spell and falling for the first man she sees (usually a man she is given to). Gwendolyn thankfully lucks out in that Oswald likes her just as she is, and is badass enough to beat down everyone else after her; she's not so lucky in that Oswald is a little too afraid of her not loving him if she finds out she was never under that spell, to begin with, and never tells her.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Avoided in the Mass Effect 2 DLC "Kasumi's Stolen Memory". New teammate Kasumi is a Classy Cat-Burglar who enjoys a number of more feminine pursuits such as composing poetry in her off-hours, but she's no less an Action Girl than The Lad-ette FemShep. The same DLC also adds a dress that FemShep can wear as her non-combat attire.
    • Played for Laughs in Mass Effect 3 when FemShep and Miranda Lawson try to have a "feminine" conversation, bringing up various stereotypically female topics only to discover that neither one of them can even manage a complete sentence on the subjects in question.
  • Subverted with Gemma from Ninja Pizza Girl. She seems quite tomboyish at first glance, what with leaping across rooftops and all, but she also likes tea, chocolate and bubble baths, makes her own clothes, is very caring and nurturing with a soft spot for cute children and Star-Crossed Lovers, favors non-violent solutions and gets giddy when a cute boy pays attention to her. Needless to say, none of that stops her from being heroic and getting stuff done.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: Sadie Adler invokes this after Chapter 2, ditching her dress for a shirt and pants to prove herself to the men in the gang. She doesn't abhor dresses, but wears them out of practicality. During the game's credits, however, Sadie is shown wearing a dress during and after the Marstons' wedding. She wears her fancier bounty clothes again when she departs following that.
  • Turned on its head in Resonance of Fate. As part of her Character Development, Leanne decides to start wearing full makeup when knowingly heading into gunfights. Her reasoning is it encourages her to keep her emotions in check, since crying will make it start to run, and by not breaking down she avoids becoming a liability to her partners. Naturally, this gets a very direct Lampshade Hanging in Project × Zone, where after explaining the ritual to Lindow, he states that he can only imagine the reaction some of the women in his unit would have to hear that.
  • In Solatorobo, this attitude (and a literal instance) is the whole reason for the photo collection sidequest: Alicia had a photo taken while wearing a princess dress, and she's so embarrassed by it that she has her gang swipe all the photographer's photos. Waffle eventually sees it and compliments her, but she's offended by the comparison to Princess Theria.
  • SOS: Anna Tamaro wears a turquoise sailor shirt and black capri pants to show that she's not like other women, since she can perform as a nurse. Averted when she needs to be saved like everyone else. Although Capris does lampshade this if you're playing as him while talking to her:
    Capris: What are you doing? You're wearing men's clothes.
    Anna: How I dress is not important. It's not easy to move around. I'm Anna, the ship's nurse.
  • Trauma Team: In one of the extras, Maria wears a dress. Gabe's response is to try to rip his eyes out.

    Web Comics 
  • Eerie Cuties: Tomboy Brooke rarely wears skirts or dresses despite having a very practical reason to do so (she occasionally turns into a half-snake and loses her pants to Clothing Damage). Lampshaded by girly-girl Melissa here.
  • Debated between skirt-hating Straw Feminist Susan and skirt-loving Action Girl Nanase in El Goonish Shive here (although though both were transformed into boys at the time) with Susan naturally taking the Real Women Don't Wear Dresses side of the argument.
    • Susan may be thawing slightly; she did pick a skirt over slacks avatar in one IM conversation (Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph).
  • Kate Beaton mocked this trope with "Strong Female Characters" in Hark! A Vagrant.
    Strong Female Character (while punching a Housewife in the face): Your reign of terror is over you cookie baking BITCH!
  • In L's Empire, Void asks why Daisy wears a dress if she's a tomboy. She responds as such:
  • Ménage à 3 / Pixie Trix Comix: Pro wrestler Roxie is absolutely determined to project a tough image, in and out of the ring, and seems to lack some confidence in her own feminine attractiveness; hence, she frequently invokes this trope, not only not wearing dresses but, for example, avoiding going dancing. Two of her girlfriends, Brandy and Zadie, put some effort into convincing her to be a little more flexible — Brandy gets her into a Pimped-Out Dress, while Zadie takes her lingerie shopping and dancing. Note that this is very much a confidence issue with Roxie, rather than a matter of principle; she’s a lesbian who very much appreciates “girly” attractiveness in other women.
    Zadie: Dance aggressive! Tough girls dance all the time!
  • Parodied in Sinfest when Monique cries over a TV show, and gets her "strong woman" card suspended. (Other characters have also had various cards suspended for not behaving stereotypically. For instance, Squigley loses his Brocard after he dares to acknowledge the athleticism of female tennis players rather than just watching for panty shots.)

    Web Original 
  • The Let's Player BrainWeasel notes that Final Fantasy X-2 "loses a few [feminism] points" because the female protagonist has a Heroic BSoD when her world is on the brink of (another) pointless war and she's forced to kill her aeons in self-defense. BrainWeasel also advises authors not to have female victims of Demonic Possession, because it makes them look passive and weak. Presumably, male characters can have the same thing happen to them but fully retain their "strong" credentials.
  • Use of this trope in advertising is conversed and critiqued on Cracked here.
  • This is a common criticism of Feminist Frequency from feminists. See, for example, the multi-part analysis from Liana K, who took special umbrage at Sarkeesian Slut-Shaming any woman portrayed as having prominent breasts.
    • Although there have been occasions in which this trope is inverted, as she doesn't count Mattie from True Grit, Zoe from Firefly, and Furiousa as being for real feminist icons for being "too masculine".
  • Discussed on occasion by The Nostalgia Chick, who seems to regard this as a Pet-Peeve Trope. She's been known to call badly-done Action Girls "Kate Beatonian Strong Female Characters" (see above). In contrast, one of the things she liked about Frozen was that it trusted Anna to carry the narrative without giving her inexplicable fighting skills.
  • Zoe Washburn of Firefly, of all people, gets this treatment from the livejournal blog of allecto.
    • Specifically in the episode "War Stories", where Wash survives hours, possibly even a day, of brutal torture, then leads the effort to rescue the captain with roughly thirty seconds of rest first, while knowing they probably have days. Zoe gets this treatment because she rewards Wash by cooking soup.
      • The same critic (presumably) also accuses Wash of abusing Zoe. Her (the critic's) argument for this is that all white male/black female relationships she's known have been abusive. Never mind that the show makes it abundantly clear that Zoe wears the pants in the relationship and any attempt to abuse her would put Wash in a body cast for a year, this woman claims her own limited experiences are conclusive evidence.
      • The same critic later attempts to make her point by claiming that when it came to the episode's bounty, Zoe began to say something about it being marked for the Alliance and Mal telling her to shut up (in Chinese), which would infer that Mal used his power as a man to dominate and "abuse" his female (and black, as the critic wastes no time pointing out) subordinate. In fact, it was Wash who had made the comment about the bounty being marked, and Mal telling Wash to shut up, not Zoe.
      • Whether Mal aimed his remarks at Zoe or Wash wouldn't have mattered, really. He wasn't dominating or abusing his female or his male. He was giving an order as the captain. Just because he's usually easygoing and pleasant with his crew doesn't mean he doesn't expect them to jump when he tells them to. Especially since when he decides it's time to start giving orders, the orders involved are often things like "fire at will" and "run like hell."
    • Allecto somehow applies this to all of the female characters. She rags on Kaylee for having the gall to want to hook up with Simon, Zoe for... erm being married...? (she seems to think that all marriages ought to be celibate or something), and Inara for her profession. Never mind the fact that Inara is the only one on the ship who makes a steady living.
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series in the Episode 15 match between Tea Gardner and Mai Valentine. After dissing the latter for being a flirtatious "bleached blonde," Tea announces, "I'm going to beat you, Mai! And when I do, it will prove that women are equal to men!"

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • In the beginning, Francine is practicing for a pie-baking contest, leading Hayley to belittle her and ask her when she plans on giving back her right to vote. Later at night, Francine catches Hayley, wearing a frilly, outdated dress, baking pies of her own.
    • Played with in another episode. Hayley makes a video of Francine, mocking her status as a typical housewife who sews, cooks, and cleans. Francine is distraught and receives a fake doctor's license and then works for the handicapped mafia. Things get out of hand but once Francine takes care of things Hayley apologizes for claiming Francine couldn't do anything important.
  • In The Day My Butt Went Psycho!, this is Eleanor's in-universe reaction to Paige and her cheerleading squad, who, despite their outward appearance and mannerisms, are more than capable of fighting off the Great White Butt and his henchmen and chucking full-size furniture through a third-story window.
  • A Discussed Trope in The Legend of Prince Valiant in which tomboyish Rowanne (who dreams of becoming the first female knight of Camelot) worries that she'll ruin her chances if she's seen dressing and behaving like a girl. Queen Guinevere assures her that she can be both a knight and feminine when she wants to be.
  • Zig-zagged by Miraculous Ladybug, whose title character is an aspiring fashion designer as well as a superheroine. She's still rarely if ever actually seen wearing a skirt, but neither are most of the other female characters because getting them to animate properly in CGI is really hard. She also has a heavy romantic streak and a mad crush on her classmate Adrien Agreste (who unbeknownst to her is also her crimefighting partner).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Generally averted.
    • In the episode "A Dog and Pony Show" subverts this as Rarity, the most traditionally feminine of the Mane Six, gets kidnapped and enslaved, only for her to rescue herself by manipulating (and annoying) the Diamond Dogs into submission, the Aesop being that being feminine doesn't mean being weak. When it comes to Rarity, she is on multiple occasions shown to be quite at home with violence and prefers using Good Old Fisticuffs to magic.
    • Rough and tumble Tomboys Rainbow Dash and Applejack are not any more competent or effective than the rest of the cast in a crisis (sometimes even less so). And neither of them hesitates for more than a moment to wear the dresses offered by Rarity, to help her by appearing in a fashion show, or get fancy when the occasion, such as the Grand Galloping Gala, calls for it. If there is any resistance, it's usually that Applejack finds the dress impractical (being born and raised on an apple farm), rather than it being too feminine. The episode "Simple Ways" shows she can look very nice indeed if she wants to. And Applejack is also the Team Mom of the group.
    • Princess Cadance is an extremely pink Non-Action Girl and literal Love Goddess who has personally vanquished two villains (with some help from her husband Shining Armor).
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Octi Gone," Buttercup bellyaches about having to wear a poofed-out dress at the Professor's fancy dinner party, despite the fact she wears a dress, albeit a much simpler dress, on a regular basis.
  • Much like her live-action counterpart, Punky Brewster will wear a skirt when the circumstance demands. She was dressed up in a queen's maid outfit, a turn-of-the-century outfit, and was in disguise twice—once as a tycoon's granddaughter as part of an embezzlement scheme and then to go undercover at school to solve a case.
  • Recess addresses the trope in the episode "That Sinking Feeling" where The Lad-ette Spinelli's reputation is ruined when it's discovered she has a crush. Miss Finster of all people gives her a good talk about this - "Women of power like us, we're not allowed to have emotions." - but Spinelli proves that liking boys doesn't make her any less of a person. Later on, she comes to enjoy the dance lessons her mother enrolls her in.
    • Interestingly this trope is subtly subverted with Spinelli's teammate Gretchen, who is always seen in a light blue dress that has a pink ribbon around the waist but is never seen as silly, foppish or incapable. She just is The Smart Guy of the group rather than a bruiser like Spinelli.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode "Role Models", the mayor assigns the heroes an "image specialist" to help them be better role models to the town, who proves to be an embodiment of Political Overcorrectness. One of the things he does is forbid Amy from cooking because that's a gender stereotype.
    Amy: While I agree with you in principle, the simple fact is I'm the only one who knows how to cook. And I enjoy it!
    D. B. Platypus: [blows whistle] WHAT YOU LIKE IS UNIMPORTANT! You're a role model now.

Wouldn't that mean that real men don't wear pants? Just maybe. Though everyone can agree, "Don't Wear Short Shorts".

Alternative Title(s): You Say Girl Like A Bad Thing, Femininity Is Bad, Real Women Never Wear Dresses