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Unwillingly Girly Tomboy

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"Daniel, find me an anthropologist that dresses like this and I will eat this headdress."
Maj. Samantha Carter, "Emancipation", Stargate SG-1

The lines between Tomboy and Girly Girl can be very blurred at times. Sometimes the tough, spirited Lad-ette (who usually Hates Wearing Dresses) has to don girly clothing or participate in traditionally feminine activities like needlework - for whatever reason.

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Maybe she's trying to infiltrate the popular crowd. Maybe it's by accident. Maybe she did it on a dare. Maybe she has overbearing parents who Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child. Maybe she has to meet high-ranked people and needs to polish her manners for a while. For whatever reason, we end up with a tough, masculine girl forced into some feminine activity, and that can provide for some very funny moments.

At the end of the episode, or scene, or comic, that it happens in, she casts off the clothes, tired of the charade, and reverts to her original personality. This is supposed to come with a feminist message of how women shouldn't have to be confined to typical roles, but more often than not it tends to come up as demonizing and demeaning not tomboyish women instead.

Different from She Cleans Up Nicely, which involves the Tomboy willing to look more feminine for special occasions. In that trope and other ones like it (Girliness Upgrade or Femininity Failure for example), she is sincerely attempting to become more feminine. In this trope, it's basically foisted on her, for better or for worse. Compare Dragged into Drag, for when characters are unwillingly forced into clothing which isn't traditionally considered appropriate for their gender. Contrast Tomboy with a Girly Streak, whose "girly streak" may be being comfortable with dresses. The opposite is Tomboy Angst, an insecure tomboy who secretly wants to be feminine like the other girls.

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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, Kaoru (a.k.a. Buttercup) is much more tomboyish than her western counterpart, so much that she normally dresses in boy's clothing. But when it's time for work, she (like her 2 best friends) takes on a girly, sporty dress as a part of their Magical Girl gimmick, and she isn't very happy about it.
  • Maid-Sama!: The entire premise is that spirited Straw Feminist Tomboy Misaki works at a maid cafe in order to help make ends meet. This causes a lot of dissonance with those in the know, because they don't expect to see their tomboyish president all dolled up. She is, notably, rather good at the Meido shtick, but is always happy to cast off the outfit.
  • In Code Geass, Kallen's Badass in Distress phase in the hand of the Britannians included wearing a fancy dress, which was given to her by Princess Nunnally in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to help her. It's double bad for Kallen since she hates the Britannian upper class.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, when Crystal is chaperoning a field trip, she wants to dress more like a teacher, but her mother makes her wear something much more girly and childish in order to "look more fun" and because there's no time to change when the bad guys attack, she ends up in it for the entire rest of the arc.
  • In K-On!, Tomboy Ritsu is forced to play Juliette and has troubles to play the character, because she's not that girly.
  • Digimon Tamers: Ruki has to wear a girly dress for a photo shoot, at the request of her mother Rumiko who is a famous model, but she rejects wearing it. The dub emphasizes this by having her go into a short diatribe about what she thought of the photographer.
  • Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War faces a dilemma when Parn and Co. attend a ball in honor of King Kashoe. She's not overly tomboyish compared to other examples... but as an Elf Action Survivor, she's used to cute but simple clothing and having her hair loose. So when she has to wear a Pimped-Out Dress and pull her hair up, she looks beautiful but feels very uncomfortable.
    "Ah, this dress is so tight! I don't know how you ladies manage it..."
  • Inverted in Black Butler with Elizabeth "Lizzie" Midford, an Unwillingly Tomboyish Girly Girl. She's very girlish and likes it that way, but her Ladyof War mother Frances had her learn swordmanship and she was terrified that her arranged boyfriend Ciel would reject her.
  • in Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Priss lost a bet with Sylia and, as payment, was forced to be photographed in a rather feminine Victorian dress. The girls (and specially Sylia) are amused. Priss is, uh, NOT.
  • In Berserk, After Danann, Farnese and Schierke restore Casca's sanity and the Four finish introducing themselves, Danann decides that Casca's clothes aren't fitting for her upcoming reunion with Guts, and promptly turns the robe she was wearing into a dress. Casca complained, saying she's a warrior and that it doesn't suit her, but Danann insisted on it, saying it's perfect and that she looks like a 'dark elf princess'.

    Comic Books 
  • Variation in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where Mina asks for help looking like a prostitute, in order to act as bait. She's not a tomboy, as she's usually in Victorian-approved dresses.
  • A Bash Street Kids story in The Beano had the kids give Toots a makeover so she could enter a beauty contest. At the end of the story she was so insulted by the compliments she was getting about being ladylike that she reverted to type and attacked the judges with a water pistol and stink bombs.
  • Lucky Luke: Calamity Jane once had to learn how to dress and behave like a respectable lady so she would gain the respect of the other women in the city where she was trying to settle down. Thanks to Lucky Luke's effort, she manages to create a well-educated girly girl facade, but ends up dropping out when the city is attacked by natives so she can help Luke face them. Ironically, the other women, instead of being shocked as expected, express admiration that Jane can be both well-educated and brave, and bid her welcome.

    Film — Animated 
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak variation in Mulan: Mulan is comfortable enough in hanfus, but she gets nervous and totally screws up when she has to dress up as a potential bride for her meeting with the matchmaker, and in song describes her dolled-up reflection as "someone I don't know." While in her frilly hanfu, she moves a chess piece on a game two men are playing so that one of them loses.
  • Merida from Brave is forced into uptight corsets by her mother when she's about to be married off. She rebels against it at first by pulling out one curl, and later on breaks through her corset in order to win the archery tournement.
  • Vanellope in Wreck-It Ralph prefers to be in her little hoodie rather than elaborate dresses, specifically her royal princess gown, which she gets out of as as quick as possible. She does wear a dress at Felix and Calhoun's wedding, though she is visibly uncomfortable.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • The premise of Miss Congeniality, where a tomboyish FBI agent has to go undercover as a beauty queen. Hilarity Ensues at how much of a Fish out of Water she is.
  • In Wonder Woman, Diana has to disguise as ordinary Englishwoman, for which she chooses a very plain outfit. Later on, she wants to smuggle herself into a fancy party, so steals another woman's fancy, girly dress. Diana's original outfit is not modeled on male fashion, but is, allegedly, practical rather than intended to please the male gaze, so this trope still applies.

    Literature 
  • The Millennium Trilogy: Lisbeth Salander disguises herself as a feminine woman of class when attempting to rob Wennerstromm's bank account.
  • Tortall Universe: During ''The Immortals', Daine entirely prefers breeches to feminine clothing and quite resents it when she has to wear dresses for formal or diplomatic purposes.
  • Scout was like this in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was more or less a tomboy, but had to wear a dress for her first day of school thanks to her Aunt Alexandra, and seemed mildly embarrassed about it.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Brienne of Tarth is forced to wear a pink dress at one point of the story. (And due to her being tall and muscular, it doesn't even look good on her at all.)
    • Arya Stark was constantly forced into Proper Lady's garb by her proper mother and sister throughout her childhood, so having to pass as a boy in order to survive was a mild relief. At Acorn Hall, she is once again forced into a dress by the lady of the house, and is quick to ruin it by rolling around with Gendry.
  • Happens to Lyra when she has to, in The Golden Compass, be dressed up by Mrs. Lonsdale for meeting her uncle, Mrs. Coulter or Dame Hannah Relf.
  • The Wheel of Time has Elmindreda, who prefers to go by Min and wears trousers with short hair. At one point, she has to seek asylum in a very divided political organization, and in order to prevent those working against her side recognizing her, is convinced to wear dresses and makeup and act out a simpering, boy-obsessed personality as a disguise.
  • Journey to Chaos: Tiza much prefers wearing pants to "tents" and would rather attend a monster hunt then a formal ball, and has a severe reaction to being forced to do the latter. In the first book, she grumpily tries on dresses for seamstresses and does housework for other clients. It becomes more of a problem in later books because her not-boyfriend comes from a Blue Blood family.
  • In Robin McKinley's "Sleeping Beauty" retelling Spindle's End, peasant-raised princess Rosie is an utter tomboy who always wears trousers, keeps her hair short, and only wears a dress with great reluctance for her foster-cousin Katriona's wedding. When she learns she's a princess, she's distraught not only because her whole life as she's known it is a lie, but because a future of wearing nothing but elegant dresses and having to be a proper royal lady horrifies her. This is part of the reason why she chooses to stay a peasant in the end, while her Girly Girl friend Peony assumes her identity as the princess.
  • Downplayed early in the Temeraire series. While Jane Roland (Senior Captain, Aerial Corps) is willing enough to don the clothes expected of early 19th century women when she is obliged to leave the aviators' precincts; her stride, battle-scarred face, and general mannerisms make her seem distinctly 'off' to most observers and attracts many odd stares. When she gets promoted and ennobled to the point where she can wear her uniform in public, she admits she does not mind 'society' nearly as much.
    • Jane's daughter Emily finds herself in this position more emphatically later in the series. When Will Laurence realizes his Midwingman is rising sixteen and punching young men out for persisting in unwanted advances, he scrambles to try instilling a distaff variant of proper behavior. Emily is not happy about any of it... especially the Chaperone.
  • Averted in Hurog with Tisala. She's a capable warrior, but doesn't make a fuss about having to wear a dress when attending parties in her role as noble lady.
  • Genderflipped with Jerin in A Brother's Price. Jerin likes to wear practical clothes, his sister Corelle would prefer that he wear a codpiece to show potential wives "what they are buying". He refuses when it is first mentioned, but ends up wearing something very impractical and sexy when attending a ball at court.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Penny, Bernadette and Amy go to Disneyland and get Princess makeovers. Ironically, Penny, the resident Lad-ette, ends up as Sleeping Beauty, the most feminine and elegant of the princesses, and this provides us with a funny image of Penny-as-Sleeping-Beauty lounging on a bench and eating pudding with her legs spread out. Downplayed since Penny loves fashion and is seen wearing girly clothes in many episodes.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: In early seasons tomboy Ellie May fights tooth and nail to avoid wearing girly stuff. She says the other kids would think she's a sissy. Jed tries to explain that it isn't being a sissy when a girl wears a dress.
  • The much-maligned Stargate SG-1 episode "Emancipation" has Sam, the team's Action Girl and Smart Guy, an officer who logged over a hundred hours in enemy airspace during the first Gulf War, forced to dress up in a male-dominated culture's traditional female clothing and, after being kidnapped and sold to a rival tribe, act like a subservient woman. The page quote pretty much sums up her opinion (in reference to Daniel telling her how anthropologists sometimes live as other cultures to study them from within).
  • In one episode of Sweet/Vicious, Jules and Ophelia set out to infiltrate and take down a sorority that hazes its female pledges in a sexually degrading manner, films it, and makes money selling it as fetish porn. Since Jules is already a member of a different sorority, while Ophelia's mother is an alumni with this one (meaning that she can easily get in as a legacy), this means that the green-haired punk chick Ophelia has to turn herself into the preppy sorority sister "Fifi". Jules is quite amused, while Ophelia's mother is downright ecstatic that she's following in her footsteps. Ophelia very much isn't.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In PreTeena, Teena Keene is eleven years old and responds negatively to all her mother's despairing attempts to get her out of jeans and t-shirts and into something more feminine. Even after elaborate and expensive trips to the hairdresser, her hair always reverts to its unruly short red tangle. The hairdresser even demands nuisance money for dealing with the Keene sisters.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy V: This happens to Faris Scherwiz when a ball is held to celebrate her return as Princess Sarisa. She complains about the clothing, is clearly uncomfortable, and ditches it for her usual pirate gear as soon as she has an excuse.
  • Persona 4:
    • Naoto typically dresses like a boy, but can be talked into wearing a very feminine Sailor Fuku... only if her Social Link is maxed and the Player Character romances her. However, the Golden ending of Persona 4 Golden shows her becoming more comfortable with wearing feminine clothes in public.
    • During the school trip, Chie and Yukiko are talked by Yosuke into wearing very revealing bathing suits, something which particularly contradicts with Chie's usual tomboyish behavior. After the trip, Chie changes back into her normal clothes and never wears the bathing suit again unless you (again) play Persona 4 Golden.
  • The iDOLM@STER: Makoto Kikuchi is an inversion; she is a tomboy who wants to wear more feminine clothes to make herself cuter but always ends up wearing masculine clothes to raise her coolness factor.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Ruby herself complains about wearing formal dress to a dance in episode 6 of volume 2. More specifically the high heels and not being able to wear her cloak - she normally fights in a "combat skirt" anyway.
    "Does that mean I can change out of these stupid things and into my hood now? ...stupid lady stilts!"

    Web Comics 
  • This has happened in Angel Moxie to Tristan more than once, which really ticks her off, including here (dressing up as Sailor Moon), and here (dressing up for a We Need a Distraction move).
  • Ozy and Millie: Millie finds herself forced to dress up on occasion, school uniform, her mother's wedding, etc.
  • There's a low-key variant in Sticky Dilly Buns. Ruby isn't exactly a tomboy, but she wants to be taken seriously as a business studies graduate, and (aside from a short skirt that was the result of a weird bit of backstory) usually dresses in smart but plain and austere styles. However, when she gets a date (rather against her will), her sister persuades her to borrow a more girly dress, reassuring her that it's "elegant" rather than "sexy" (which she'd despise).

    Western Animation 
  • In Danny Phantom, Sam enters a Beauty Contest to try and prove how sexist it is. It's actually a charade for a medieval King Ghost from another dimension to pick a human bride, and when Sam accidentally wins, she is dressed up like a princess for the King by his lady servant. She even busts through her glass slippers.
    • And an even funnier example of the same trope comes from the episode "Memory Blank" where Sam wishes she and Danny never met, and as a result of it being heard by a ghost granting wishes to gain power, it happens. Well, Sam's the reason Danny became Danny Phantom, so he has no ghost powers and no recollection of her at all the next day. What follows is easily one of the funniest moments in the show's entire run.
      Sam: But how do I get through the thick head of a fourteen year old boy? (Beat) Oh no. (Cut to the next day at lunch with Sam wearing pink and a skirt and makeup as she walks up to Danny and Tucker.) May I join you?
      Danny: (Literally shoves Tucker out of his chair so she can sit.)
      Paulina: She surrendered her individuality for a boy! I'm so proud of her!
  • In Clone High, Joan briefly attempts a She Cleans Up Nicely by dressing as a glamazon after being made over by Cleo, but eventually casts it off, sick of pretending to be a "giggly, vapid slut."
  • Daria:
    • Jane Lane briefly attempts to join the popular crowd by dressing feminine and trying out for the cheer squad. It's part of a class assignment, and at first is not a legitimate attempt to fit in, but she starts Becoming the Mask later on. Eventually she tosses off the disguise.
    • In another episode Daria decides to dress up like her Lovable Alpha Bitch sister Quinn, in order to convince Quinn to stop posing as an intellectual. She's clearly not happy but considers it a last resort since Quinn is "acting" intellectual to fit in with another crowd and she dislikes the idea of her little sister pretending to be a person she simply isn't.
  • In the first episode of Arthur, Muffy wants Francine's new school picture to be perfect, giving her a complete makeover, which she hates, especially having to wear a dress.
  • This happens a couple of times on Recess to Spinelli, the first of which was done as blackmail by the Ashleys when it was learned that Spinelli's first name was Ashley as well, the other in which Spinelli is entered in a beauty pageant as a bet to win out over any of the Ashleys.
  • Invoked in 6teen when tomboyish Nikki is hypnotized by the Clones in one episode into becoming a Girly Girl, taking out her piercings and such. She spends some of the episode acting freakishly girly until the others snap her back, and ends up going back to her old self.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when the Gaang tries to meet the Earth King, the girls dress up as Ba Sing Se nobility to get into a high-class party. Katara enjoys the makeover, Toph...not so much, especially when they try to scrub her feet. Interestingly, it's tomboyish Toph who's trained in high-society manners, and she who teaches Katara how to behave.
  • Legend of Korra: The titular character knows she has an important role to the world as Avatar, is the tomboy and can't even properly put on makeup, which is Played for Laughs at the beginning. Korra occasionally gets made up and looks pretty nice like that, but is awkward when it happens even with her Girly Bruiser best friend Asami's help.
  • There is a running joke in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic where Rarity tries to girly up the athletic Rainbow Dash and farm pony Applejack. They are typically not amused.
  • The Loud House
    • This happens in "Toads and Tiaras" to Lana when her more feminine twin, Lola, gets injured and cannot appear at an upcoming beauty pageant. So her coach Lincoln, who wants to win the two season passes to Dairyland that are the prize, bribes Lana to dress up in a pink dress and give up her mannish habits to fill in for her sister. She actually proves quite adept at the task, admits it was surprisingly fun, and wins the pageant, though for the talent section Lincoln finally relents and lets her Be Yourself.
    • A more Played for Drama example happens in "Really Loud Music", where the tomboyish rocker Luna has a big chance to win herself a record deal in a music contest and decides to send in a popular cover of pop music over her usual style to have a better chance of making it. While it does get her into the running, she's forced to change into a more glamorous and pop-oriented image with the stage name "Lulu", which she clearly isn't fond of and is forced to decide whether or not the record deal is worth her new persona.

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