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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 
  • In the Alien franchise:
  • Michelle Rodriguez, in just about every role she's ever been in, but especially The Fast and the Furious films. Rodriguez is well known for being Typecast as "the butch chick who dies in every movie."
  • The Agent Rivera of Machete wears one, and in promotional materials is almost always shown holding or pointing a gun to emphasize her Action Girl status.
  • In The Terminator, Sarah Connor becomes a tank-top wearing Action Girl at the end of the movie. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, she wears one practically the entire movie after Taking a Level in Badass.
  • Kim in Ulvesommer prefers wearing those. Justified in that she's a climber and it's summer.
  • Lieutenant Karly Brant from Big Ass Spider! wears a black tank top around the end of the movie.
  • Anna Gonsalves, a guerrilla fighter in Predator, wears a white tank top for most of the movie. Justified since most of the film is set in the jungles of South America.
  • Juno from The Descent mainly wears a sleeveless outfit during most of the movie, also Sarah becomes a tank top wearing Action Girl after discarding layers of clothing during the movie.
  • Park Ranger Alex from Tasmanian Devils wears a white tank top around the end of the movie after removing her uniform.
  • Mikaela Banes from the Transformers Film Series is a Wrench Wench and is sometimes seen wearing tank tops, especially in the second movie.
  • The entire female military research team from the 2008 (?) Direct-to-DVD movie Journey to the Center of the Earth.
  • She may not be very tomboyish, but Claire Dearing from Jurassic World wears a light purple tank top underneath her white business shirt. Throughout the film, her Character Development ultimately makes her take a big level in badass, and starting with the beginning of the last act, she discards her white business shirt entirely.
  • Dawes from The Marine 4: Moving Target, wears one at the end of the movie after ditching her uniform.
  • Marci Eyre from Spiders, who during the movie loses layers of her clothing and is left in just her tank top for the reminder of the film, by the time she's wearing her tank top she Took a Level in Badass.
  • Alexandra from Spiders II: Breeding Ground who ditches her black shirt for her grey tank top underneath as she fights off the spiders, free's Jason, messes up with the lab and fights off Grbac.
  • Denise from Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse who has her Action Girl moments as she fights off against the zombies and wears a white tank top during the movie.
  • Special Agent Hutchinson from Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus, who spends most of the movie in a tank top.
  • Mason Weaver from Kong: Skull Island, wears a tanktop for most of the movie. Justified considering the film's tropical setting.
  • Angela Vidal from the [REC] franchise, who spends the first, second and fourth movie in a white tanktop, even if she ends up wearing something else, she will strip to her white tanktop later on.
  • Alice from the from the Resident Evil franchise whose main outfit in the second and sixth movie consist of a tanktop, Zig-Zagged with the first movie where she wears a red sleeveless dress instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MythBusters: Kari Byron is not very tomboyish, but often wore a tank top on the show, and she's definitely a Wrench Wench, with great engineering prowess and a passion for geeky science.
  • Unforgettable: Cowboy Cop Carrie Wells almost invariably turns up at crime scenes in a tank top and slacks, weather permitting. By contrast the female detectives in the supporting cast (Nina in season one, Murray post-retool) wear pantsuits.
  • This is how Happy Quinn from Scorpion usually dresses. She's versed in mechanics, her clothing is utilitarian, and she's very forthright and outspoken.
  • The Lad-ette Dee Reynolds on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is often seen wearing those.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): The eponymous protagonist is a hard-drinking bruiser, and when Jessica is not wearing her everyday black jacket, she's often wearing Tank Tops.
  • Sydney Fox from Relic Hunter, would often wear tank tops during her adventures.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. B'Elanna Torres strips down to give the audience some tank-top fanservice whenever she gets hot and sweaty fighting or fixing something. Captain Janeway has been known to do the same.

    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.


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