In life, not everyone fits into one defined box. Once in a while, you meet a girl who exhibits behavioural traits considered typical of a boy When you hear the word \u2018tomboy\u2019 the first thing that probably pops into your mind is a girl who dresses like a boy or maybe a character like Arya Stark who stars in the famous series Game of Thrones and rejects the notion that she must become a woman and marry for influence and power. Instead, she believes that she can forge her own destiny. She is fascinated by warfare and training in the use of arms and is bored by embroidery and other \u201clady-like\u201d pursuits. She takes after her father and has a quarrelsome relationship with her sister, Sansa due to their contrasting interests and personalities. In the 16th century, the term was first used to describe a rude and loud boy. Now, it\u2019s used to describe girls that exhibit a range of behaviour and traits that society deems appropriate to boys only. One tomboy will definitely be different from the next one. There are different traits that one might notice in a tomboy and these include dressing or walking like a boy, being aggressive, playing rough, not caring about getting dirty or about looking pretty. Some tomboys mark their identity strictly by rejecting female clothing. Attracting attention Dorry Nyambego, 26, was labelled a tomboy since she was young. She is short in stature, keeps short hair and is masculine and when she dresses in sweat shirts, jackets or hoods and boots, one could easily confuse her to be a man. \u201cI grew up liking and admiring clothes worn by men and from that early age, I started dressing as a tomboy. I am usually so comfortable in them and I just love being who I am. I have fully embraced it,\u201d says Dorry. While in public places, Dorry says she attracts attention from different people who will sometimes stand or stop what they are doing just to stare at her. \u201cThough I have never been bullied by anyone, some people look at me as if I have done something wrong. But that\u2019s just my personality,\u201d explains Dorry. Twenty-eight-year-old Stacy Wangui has also adopted a tomboy personality. \u201cI am much comfortable with my style. It fits my personality well. Though I face some challenges from the society, I love who I am,\u201d says Stacy. \u201cMy walking style sells me out and many people laugh at me. My body is a bit masculine and when I go out with my girlfriends, people stare at me as if to say that I am the odd one out. Some even call me names such as shoga making me feel uncomfortable. However, I totally ignore them,\u201d she adds. Stacy says: \u201cMy wardrobe is filled with sneakers, rubber shoes, jeans and mostly rugged jeans, some official khaki trousers, hoodies, some nice fitting T-shirts and a few shorts for the weekend. I am very much comfortable with my style.\u201d Why girls become tomboys Her parents and siblings have accepted her personality \u201cI chose my dress code because I feel safe and attractive in it. It makes me stand out and raises my self-esteem to face challenges that may come my way,\u201d she explains. Susan Catherine Keter, a transformational life coach says cultural beliefs and gender stereotyping leads to putting girls and boys in \u201cboxes\u201d. It dictates what is acceptable behaviour, dressing, games and much more for each gender. \u201cIn life, not everyone fits into the box. Some girls dress like boys and play games that are believed to be the preserve of boys such as soccer and rugby,\u201d says Keter. \u201cParents can get embarrassed because their daughter is not fitting into the gender box or script. In fact, some punish such girls for not being \u201cgirly\u201d, she adds. But what would make a girl a tomboy? Keter offers: \u201cDiverse factors contribute to it including growing up with boys and admiring the freedom boys enjoy. Gender stereotyping tends to limit girls and can lead to rebellion. Also, factors including genetics, family and societal structure such as having close family members such as a mother or grandmother who portray masculine characteristics and play gender roles.\u201d Prenatal hormones may also play a role. Female babies exposed to higher levels of prenatal testosterone exhibit more \u201cmasculine-typical\u201d behaviours. In the family set-up factor, it means that the girl may view her mother as living a boring life and view her father\u2019s life as interesting and admirable. She may consciously or unconsciously lean towards her father\u2019s life and want nothing to do with her mother\u2019s life. Competitive nature But as they grow up into adults, Keter says there is a possibility of changing their character, especially with the onset of puberty when sex hormones bring out feminine characteristics. \u201cNot all tomboys change though. Some still grow up leaning towards a masculine nature, get into male dominant careers such as construction, favour careers that are viewed as suitable for males, are independent and don\u2019t lean towards gender feminine roles even in the family setup such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of little ones,\u201d she explains. The long-term outcomes are that women who portray tomboy characteristics from childhood can enjoy assertiveness, competitiveness, self-reliance and independence. \u201cThey can excel in competitive sports and male-dominated careers. However, if not managed well, some could end up in high risk behaviour such as hanging out in drinking joints, habitually drinking alcohol, smoking, engaging in antisocial behaviour including crime and failing to take take good care of their health and well-being. This can lead to risks in their health and overall well-being,\u201d says Keter.