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Tank-Top Tomboy

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A girl who wears a tank top may or may not be an Action Girl, but she will often be considered a Tomboy, a Lad-ette, or someone cut from a rougher cloth.

The Tank Top is a very standard garment for a typical Hollywood Action Hero. Tank tops, especially utilitarian versions, are typically associated with laborious activities—and thus often used to make women seem more "butch", "tough" or "masculine". Even the sexier variations are not exempt from this association.

For example, both First Blood and the original Die Hard featured their protagonists in one for most of the movie. However, at some point between their peak in The '80s and The Turn of the Millennium, tank tops have lost their appeal with action protagonists.

Except for women. For women, the tank top still remains a reliable tool for both costuming and characterization. It's both practical and can show off impressive amounts of skin (the exact amount depending on exactly how much sex appeal the creators are going for). In drawn mediums such as Animation or Comics, what looks like a functional and sporty tank top/sports bra in an action scene can look like a sexy camisole in a more relaxed one.


A Zig Zagged Sub-Trope of Gendered Outfit and Stripperific, depending on the type of tank top. Common substitutes include a sports bra, a tube top, or (in Japanese media) Sarashi. Not to be confused with Shorttank, which despite the name is about a tomboyish Deuteragonist in shonen-oriented works, though she often does wear one of these.

Sub-Trope of Sleeves Are for Wimps.

See also Amazonian Beauty, who also tends to dress this way and display the habits.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Emma is often seen wearing tanktops, along with other slightly masculine clothing.
  • Tank Girl refers to the fact that she drives a tank, but she also wears a tank top in the comic and The Film of the Book.
  • Wonder Girl
    • The original Wonder Girl (who was either Diana Prince or Donna Troy, depending on the continuity) wore a sleeveless shirt. It was depicted as either a sleeveless t-shirt or a tank top Depending on the Artist.
    • Cassandra Sandsmark (pictured above) wore a tank top and jeans following Infinite Crisis. While Cassie is indeed a tomboy, as well as a Flying Brick, the real reason she chose to wear the outfit was in honor of her dead love, Superboy, who himself wore Civvie Spandex in the forms of jeans and a t-shirt. As shown in the picture, she also wore a tank top as an undergarment.
  • Phoebe in Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse is a scruffy, hard-drinking, chain-smoking assassin and stripper who, when offstage, always wears a white tank top.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Plourr's standard outfit is a tank top when out of uniform, while also being a consummate action girl, a boisterous bruiser, ladette and tomboy. After assuming her throne, she dresses more formally, but still in a pretty masculine way.

    Fan Works 
  • While the hoodie is traditionally long sleeve, in Supernannya/Pokémon AU, Jade Tanner wears a tank top jacket, with nothing other than matching garments.
  • Captain Kanril Eleya usually wears a Starfleet uniform, but when she gets a few days' shore leave in The Wrong Reflection so she can attend her sister's wedding, she changes into a tank top afterward. Eleya is a former Bajoran Militia NCO with a Lad-ette tendencies and advanced hand-to-hand combat training.
  • Rhythmic Pretty Cure:
    • Tsumugi Nikaido, being the most tomboyish main character in addition to one of the tougher girls in her rhythmic gymnastics class (not to mention a karateka), wears a tank top and jean shorts with her RG clothes.
    • Another sporty girl in the same class, minor character Masako Yukihiro (a wingback for her school's association football squad), wears a tank biketard.
    • Subverted with cheerleader Chiyo Natsuki and swimmer Akiko Kitamura, both also minor characters and in the same RG class. They do wear tank clothes (an actual tank top in Chiyo's case), but they're both more feminine types.
  • Lampshaded in ALIEN!!! when Captain Kaneway says they're going to have to strip down into sweaty tanktops and hunt down the eponymous lesbian alien.
  • Like her Canon counterpart, the Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee version of Hilda wears a white tank top under a black vest as part of her Pokémon Trainer outfit.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 

    Web Video 
  • A deleted scene from season 10 of Red vs. Blue depicts the Freelancer Saga's primary Action Girl, Agent Carolina as the third character from this show to be seen without their 24 Hour Armor. She's seen wearing a white tank top, walking into Club Errera the night she met fellow Freelancer, Love Interest, and curiously another one of the three Red vs Blue characters to be seen out of armor, Agent York.
    • Before the revelation that Tex was really the Beta AI in a robotic body, based on the memory of the director's deceased wife, fan art existed that depicted her out of armor, wearing a black tank top.

    Web Comics 
  • Tomboyish Lad-ette Zii of Ménage à 3 has a fairly varied wardrobe, but mostly tends to T-shirts — although some of them are short and sleeveless, verging on the tank top look. Still, the stage costume created for her when she gets her band up and running incorporates a fancy embellished tank top, allowing her to look glitzy without sacrificing her tomboy style.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Leela's Limited Wardrobe is a white tank top and black pants. Leela is the strongest member of the cast, physically, and is quite the Action Girl.
  • Steven Universe: Amethyst wears two tank tops and is characterized as a Lad-ette.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Lin Beifong has one when outside of her Metalbending armor.
    • Korra herself wears a "muscle" shirt; that is, a sleeveless shirt that fully covers the shoulders. And naturally, as the Avatar and protagonist, she is a tough Action Girl.
  • Marceline in Adventure Time is a tough rock chick who loves fighting, and often wears tank tops and jeans in various colors.
  • Marie in Ed, Edd n Eddy wears a black tank top and is by far the most tomboyish of all the girls.
  • Wendy in Gravity Falls sometimes wears a white tank top if she's not wearing her green, flannel shirt.
  • Hayley from American Dad! is rebellious and often wears a black tank top.


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