Elp-son—who is four years old—loves to be pretty. His favourite colour is pink, he loves fairy wings and glitter and nail varnish and dresses and pretty hair clips and so on and so on. For as long as he’s been expressing preferences about dressing, this has been the case. Lately, he has started to complain that children at preschool are being nasty, taunting him and telling him off for wearing ‘girl clothes’. We were, of course, very nervous about the situation, and couldn’t really figure what to do. (Parents seem to care a lot about gender indoctrination; how could we fight the teaching the other children were getting at home?)
We’re friendly with another family at the preschool, whose three year old son J also likes being pretty, and has also had trouble, though his trouble, alarmingly, came from a teacher, not from other children! So, knowing that they were in a similar circumstance, we told them about elp-son’s troubles. J’s mother immediately sprung into action: she decided to organise a boys-being-pretty day, and got in contact with another mother whose son was keen to be a fairy. (This boy’s mother is a social psychologist, as it happens, and was very enthusiastic about flaunting gender norms!) This mother told her about yet another child in the class whose pretty impulses were being stifled. That boy’s parents were contacted. And his parents brought in yet another child, whose parents went shopping especially for the occasion.
To date, the boys-being-pretty day has somewhat crumbled, because the boys involved couldn’t wait for a specific day to wear their pretty clothes: they wanted to wear them right away! So in effect, we’ve ended up with (at least) a boys-being-pretty week.
I can’t decide what aspect of these events is the most wonderful: the exuberant efforts of J’s mum on behalf of elp-son; or the fact that every parent who’s been approached so far has greeted the initiative with enthusiasm; or the fact that as it goes on, more and more little boys are jumping at the chance to finally be pretty. (No, to be honest, I know full well what aspect I like best: with any luck, my beautiful, wonderful, magical little child won’t be bullied in preschool any more!)
But don’t worry: gender is still innate. ;-)