Embrace Your Inner Lady and Your Inner Tomboy – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Pamela poses beside Honey the Golden Retriever.

My husband says my best pictures happen when I’m posing beside Honey.

I have issues. About my femininity I mean.

In my twenties, I wore dresses to work everyday with three-inch heels. When the transit system went on strike, I walked three miles each way in heels because sneakers and dresses looked tacky.

I think I was trying to make up for the fact that I wasn’t dainty or pretty. And like many people, I wanted most what I couldn’t have.

As I’ve gotten older, I thought I was past all that.

I wouldn’t wear heels for a bet. I don’t even own a dress. And my last pair of stockings is dry rotting in a drawer while I hang onto them “just in case.”

But then I ordered a pair of sailing gloves.

The company instructions told me to measure the widest part of my hand and check their sizing chart. The women’s glove sizes didn’t go up high enough to fit my hand. I had to buy a men’s large.


And I’m also having a tough time scheduling a hair cut. Shoulder length hair doesn’t go well with sailing, humidity, and limited fresh water. So before I leave for Panama, I’ve decided to cut my hair short. But then, I worry, I’ll really look like a boy.

If only I were as unselfconscious as Honey.

She is pretty and dainty. Everyone says so. But she doesn’t mind looking like a boy.

Strangers on the street call her “Buddy” (because, you know, all dogs are boys and all cats are girls, right?).

Honey throws herself into a game of bitey face with wild abandon. She doesn’t care who’s looking and she never worries about getting slobber in her fur.

Isn’t that one of the best things about dogs? Their lack of embarrassment or self-consciousness?

I definitely need to learn that from Honey.

She’s happy sitting on her pillow looking like Cleopatra on her barge. Especially when I toss her nibbles to reward her for sitting pretty while I’m making dinner.

Honey the Golden Retriever poses in her life jacket.

I wonder if Cleopatra wore a life jacket in her barge?

She’s happy rolling in stinky things with her legs splayed.

Honey embraces her inner lady and her inner tomboy.

My inner lady is not as pretty or as dainty as Honey’s. But I can embrace the inner lady who is nurturing and caring. It might be more of an iron lady, but a lady nonetheless.

And my inner tomboy gets me all over town on a bike, finds me hauling heavy groceries home on the bus, and keeps me from falling over from overly enthusiastic dog greetings.

Honey the Golden Retriever does not look like a lady rolling on her back.

What do you mean I don’t look very ladylike?

Maybe embracing my inner lady and my inner tomboy has nothing to do with looks. And once I learn that, I’ll be half way to being as good a lady and as good a tomboy as Honey.

Your Turn: Are you self-conscious about something? Is your dog?




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  1. Dogs are doing it right, they really don’t care as long as they are doing what they want. Looks aren’t that important. As a person, it is hard to not worry about those things.

  2. I am self-conscious about my weight. Lose 44 gain 30, lose 30, gain 40…the story of my life. I have only been “thin” ONCE…..right now I am huge again…….my weight is an ongoing battle. Trust me, you don’t want to see me rolling on the ground showing my belly as Honey is doing above :)

    • I thought rolling on the ground was the latest exercise trend. It certainly keeps Honey skinny. I should probably try it myself.

  3. I have been a tom boy as long as I can remember. I can still dress up and put on at least mascara if needed, but usually I am t shirts and comfy shoes.

  4. I still have those pairs of heels in the back of the closet. And I kept one suit. For funerals. But the rest of my dressed to impress 20’s work clothes have made their way to Goodwill. I cut my own hair last time. Everyone complimented me so I really don’t think I can justify ever spending $60 at a salon ever again. Especially since I refuse to dye my encroaching gray hairs – I EARNED those grays, thank you very much. I haven’t worn makeup in years. And I think being a woman has nothing to do with those things. I refuse to accept society’s viewpoint that I am less of a woman because I care not to adorn myself with society’s artificial tools of beauty. And neither are you!

    • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

      You are a woman after my own heart! We think so much alike it’s almost scary! I HAVE TO check out your blog!! :-) My inner lady hasn’t worn mascara in over a year — and even then it didn’t last for more than a few hours.

  5. I hear you about the clothes. I have to go to a conference this week and am struggling with ‘business attire’. I love how unencumbered dogs are – I wish i had that. Although I will say, little Maggie is a bit more reluctant to let herself go – still has some fear issues, but that just makes it all the better when she does!

  6. Born and raised in the country, I was 100% tomboy. I have fought against it at times, but it never fails, I revert back to my roots. Life as a tomboy is much more relaxed and leaves you with more time to do other (and better) things. I do “clean up” okay for the days I am in the office, but really it is just an act 😉

  7. I love my really short hair. (When I’m fresh from a haircut, mine is shorter than my husband’s, and he wears a pretty traditional men’s cut.) I’ll bet you’ll find things you really like about it.

    As for clothes: I do love a good skirt and heels. And, I have to confess, I’ve even circled back to pantyhose. Those things are great–I don’t know why women let fashion trick them into putting bare feet into sticky leather shoes. The trick is knowing when to dress up and when to not bother.

  8. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    Some days I’m a girly-girl in dresses, some days I’m not. It depends on what I have to do AND how I feel. However, I’ll never wear high-heels again. I had a hip-replacement when I was 37 and can’t; so it’s more like a sundress and sandals kind of girly now.

    Now I’m about to fuss at you. I take exception to this statement:
    “I think I was trying to make up for the fact that I wasn’t dainty or pretty.”

    I don’t ever want to see you say that again! How DARE you say that? No, you’re not a conventional kind of “runway” pretty, but you ARE pretty!

    Your smile lights up the whole area around you. Your happiness in your photos glows. Your evident love for life makes me smile every time I see you. Your joy in life has me SO looking forward to the photos of your upcoming trip, because I’ll live vicariously through you getting to do something I’ll never be able to do. And your happiness is a large part of what makes Honey happy and glowing in all those photos you take of her!

    So, no. You’re not allowed to say you’re not pretty EVER again! This is the first time you’ve ever had a post that put a frown on my face.

  9. For me, wearing a dress has always been a very rare undertaking. If I wear a dress, it is generally for a special occasion or for church. I will avoid heals wherever possible.

    My dogs Maya and Pierson are also unconcerned about how their gender is viewed. Even though Maya is a dainty Lab with light blonde hair and black eye-liner, 50% of people assume she is a boy. And almost everyone who meets Pierson thinks he is a girl. He is just so darned pretty! Even Maya’s barks are boyish while Pierson’s are girlish.

  10. I’m self conscious about my coordination. Well, complete and utter LACK of coordination. I can’t move my legs and arms together. I lose my balance standing still. I fell so many times in yoga that my teacher asked if I had an inner ear problem. And forget the dance floor. A total mess! Emmett is totally uninhibited, though, which makes watching him so fun. As for the hair thing, when mine was short short, I was miserable. Obviously part of that was the falling out thing rather than the cutting it thing, but I’ve been doing everything I can to get it to grow back! Fast! If you’re truly unsure about cutting it, I’d suggest getting a pile of Buffs (http://www.buffusa.com/sports/). They’re AMAZING for hot, humid weather, keeping your hair off your face, wicking sweat, and so on.

  11. I’m self conscious about myself from all angles, but now I can leave the house without having an anxiety attack. So I’m more comfortable with myself as well. One thing I love about walking the dogs is how much confidence they each have. They teach me to want that kind of confidence and not worry what others think. Easier said than done, but I take a step each day towards that thinking.

    I love a good pair of jeans, t-shirt and running shoes.

    What makes a woman is not her size or shape, it is her heart you have one of the biggest ones I know. Along with the brains to use her heart to help people and dogs and cats, etc. And you have all that going on which makes you an AWESOME Woman!! Don’t let anyone tell you different!! :)

  12. I totally understand what you mean about the heels. I did the same in my younger days, only sometimes I would squeeze my foot into a size too small if they didn’t have my size in the cutest shoes. Ugh. I didn’t feel discomfort as long as I looked cute. Now, when I have to wear heels, I base my whole outfit around the most comfortable pair I own. My, things have changed! Three cheers for Honey for doing it right! And three cheers for you, too!

  13. The last conference I went to was Adobe Max. My mother was stunned that I packed jeans, tshirts, sweats and my Vibram 5-finger toe shoes. You know, the ones I wear to work. Every. Day. I’m a creative. I make videos and websites. No one cares what I look like, least of all the most important people in my world: Padfoot and George. My mom has always been super in tune with my appearance, and it has always been a point of contention between us. There are times when I do “dress” up and put on make up and decent clothes. However, for the most part, I spend my time comfy with a few dog hairs mixed in among the threads. It makes me happy, and it keeps the wrinkles away. :)

  14. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    I never was self-conscious about comfort. I had to wear dresses or suits to work for many years; but I worked in NYC and lived on Long Island. There was no way I was going to wear heels, or even low-heeled shoes, walking from Penn Station to 42nd & Lexington or 23rd and Madison. Some of my bosses at MetLife were morons who thought they could dictate what I could or couldn’t wear on my feet between my desk and the building’s door to the street. I ignored their comments and silently told them what they could do to themselves, and continued to wear the sneakers. Now I doubt any of my “work” shoes would even fit.

  15. Poodles don’t have that uni-sex thing going on that most dogs have. Misty is totally the strong woman, very feminine, knowing how to use her wiles to get what she wants. Timmy is the consummate little male, interested in his comfort and not above the dog versions of belching and farting. One dog show judge told me in confidence that she would never give a second look at a male Poodle who had “any quality of gay.” And she was not referring to happiness.

    I would like to combine Misty’s aristocratic femininity with Timmy’s insistence on comfort.

  16. Rita is definitely not self-conscious and is happy to act either dainty and ladylike or like a rough and tumble tomboy. Our Abby was the best for showing how to not be self-conscious though – she didn’t care one bit if she was missing a leg. She would just get out there and get on with it, and the other dogs didn’t care either!
    Sometimes (when I’m around my 4 best gal pals who are all super short!) I feel self-conscious about being a head (or more) taller than all of them. But then other times, like when I’m with my tall hubs, I wear heals and don’t mind struttin’ a little and being 6’2″ in my heals. (But I draw the line at a 3 in. heal – which makes it hard to buy fancy shoes these days as the heals are outta control tall!)

  17. I can be. My dogs, however, definitely are not!

  18. Even though I’m not overweight and I work out several days a week and watch what I eat, I still feel like I weigh too much and it’s because of my generous DDs. Whenever I take pictures for my blog, I have Johan take them over and over. He’s actually gotten good at minimizing my boobs, posing me in a way that will pass muster.

    Our dogs aren’t self conscious about anything and I love it. I really need to follow their lead.

  19. Yep, we doggies know how to relax and be ourselves :-)
    ps I’ve nominated you for an award: http://themisadventuresofmisaki.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/the-explorer-dog-award/