Thursday, May 31, 2012

Freedom to Dress in Dresses

Here's my two-year-old son in one of his favourite outfits. he loves my 5 year old daughter's dresses - the pinker and sparkly - the better. He likes Barbies (especially Mermaid Barbie), dolls, tiaras, tutus and fairy wings. Loves them.

And we let him wear whatever he wants when he's at home, or at a friends house, or playgroups. He's happy putting on a dress, some princess heels, and then dancing. It's hilarious. I never really gave it much thought. He's 2, for heaven's sake and he has an older sister who loves dressing them both up to sing and dance.

However, recently, I've been questioned. The head teacher at Cate's school, who is a lovely, lovely man, was delighted that I let X play with his mermaid Barbie and Ariel dolls while we held a meeting. I told him how I wanted both of my children to have the freedom to make their own choices and play with whatever makes them happy.

But then a few weeks later X had his dolls and was dancing down the street with them. As I tried to grab him and lock him into the stroller two men complimented me on how cute he was. I thanked them and one said, quite earnestly, 'Is he gay?' I nearly keeled over laughing. My reply, 'Don't know. He's only two.'

yesterday I was at a big play center where X immediately donned a pink fairy dress, a hard had and a tinkerbell watch. Then he proceed to run amok everywhere, playing, as little boys are wont to do. He's a tough little bugger, loves to climb, run, squeeze into impossible places. He'll put up a good fight if someone tries to take his toy away (he has to battle Cate half the time so he's no stranger to defending himself). As he ran and jumped, my friends and I laughed at how cute he was. One of my friends said he's a true Samoan - a tough guy in a dress (my husband Fen is half Samoan). But I noticed other mums looking at him funnily and making remarks behind hands. One said to me, 'You don't care that he's in a dress?' I replied, 'No. Of course not.' she said, 'It's so girlie.' To  which I replied, 'Not a problem. I'm man enough for us both.'

He kept the dress on until we were ready to leave.

Then last night we went to a friends house. He was the youngest by at least 2 years. He immediately came out of the kids bedroom with princess slippers on and a Snow White costume in hand. A friend helped him slip into it. He then danced and ran around for at least an hour. There were 10 kids there (ages 2-8) Only three girls, who were busy painting together, but the boys laughed at him and pointed at him. He pushed them aside and carried on, completely oblivious to their taunts. Eventually, on his own terms, he took the dress off and played with the toy garage for the rest of the visit.

The boys laughing at him are all good friends kids, all good boys. No harm intended. They're boys after all! I watched my son, doing his own thing and how he just pushed them aside and carried on. I was proud of him. He's his own little man. Even in a dress.

I hope he continues to play with dolls and dresses until he decides he doesn't want to on his terms (or not). he's a smart, charming, funny little guy and I think he's going to be a very interesting adult one day. Both of my children make me proud as they are not wall flowers. I have only Chiefs, no Indians.

However, I'm growing tired of having people look at my X like he's weird or wrong. And God forbid someone say something to him. I'm getting too old for fist fights. But put your money on me folks, I still got some fight left in me! I'm scrappy.


  1. Thank you for writing this. My son is also 2. And he loves Peppa Pig. He recently chose Peppa underpants and a pink Peppa shirt-and he LOVES THEM and my mom of all people wondered why he would want to wear it. It made me realise how much of his gender is down to stereotypes-if he wants to wear his pink girl pants and girl shirt, I'm happy to let him!

  2. Egads, this reminds me of one of my husband's favorite stories from childhood. His grandmother was taking him on a cross-country trip by car, from NY to CA. He had been given a life-sized puppet doll called "Suzy" who had straps on her feet, the point being you'd slip the straps over your own shoes and you could dance with her... she came with her own 45RPM record of songs to dance to.

    Well, my husband was about 6 at the time, and he took all Suzy's doll clothes off and put them on himself, as they were the same size. His grandmother had told him they were driving through Arizona and might see some real cowboys, and he was so excited about it, but he refused to take off Suzy's clothes when they stopped to get something to eat. His grandmother told him to suit himself.

    They walked into a roadside restaurant, and a bunch of REAL cowboys walked past their table and told my husband's grandmother that he was "the cutest little cowgirl they'd ever seen".

    Needless to say, he blushed 8 shades of red and immediately wanted to change back into his own clothing... ha!

    I think it's great that you are willing to let your son play and be himself without pushing adult fears and phobias on him. No matter what side his bread is buttered on, he will have the benefit of a loving and supportive family and great childhood memories!

    Way to go.

  3. I think you are doing exactly the right thing. I hate all the stereotypical stuff...certain clothes and toys for girls and others for boys. No wonder so many children grow into prejudiced and bigoted adults.

    When my eldest grandson was 2 and the youngest one due,I bought him a baby doll with all the accessories, feeding bottle, nappies, bath, etc so that he could copy his mum with the baby. He wanted a toy kitchen for his birthday...he loves cooking which my daughter encourages. There were frowns and comments towards the doll and kitchen from a certain male member of the family who insisted on buying him a toy workbench...which he has never used to this day. As for the doll and kitchen...they are in constant use, by the little one as well now.

    Keep it up. Your kids will grow into caring well adjusted adults.

  4. Some of my favorite photos of my now 9-year-old son are of him wearing beautiful dress-up dresses and jewelry as a toddler. Today he told me that he wants to take a lace-making class at our local craft school, and that when he grows up he either wants to take over his father's job teaching canoe-building or teach weaving. No interest whatsoever in playing 'boy' sports, tho he quite likes watching them. He has many devoted friends - both boys and girls. He looks to be headed on the same path as his father and I know I'm going to be very proud of him.

  5. My nephew was into the very same when he was little. He had a pink bedroom too, and he's grown up well adjusted, heavily into football and a total hit with the girls (albeit being in a steady relationship with his girlfriend). You're doing just fine, stuff those that think it's weird, as they're the ones with the problem.

  6. Thanks everyone! I appreciate the support. I want my little man to do whatever makes him happy be it dresses or cars. He's free to become whatever he wants to be and I will love and support him for it always. Nice to know ya got my back!


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