A Message for my Little Boy who likes to Wear Tutus

Fighting Gender Stereotypes in Children - An Everyday Story

Gender Stereotypes for Boys - An Everyday StoryI have a little boy…

A little boy who likes to wear tutus. A little boy who likes to dance. A little boy who loves to paint and a little boy who hums happy tunes all day long.

A comment came.

A comment too riddled with prejudice for me to repeat. A warning to me to be careful. A warning to not encourage such things or I’ll regret it later.

And so to this person I say nothing. For my words to her will change nothing. But to my little boy I say this, for my words to him can change everything.

Fighting Gender Stereotypes in Children - An Everyday Story

I say dance. And not just hip-hop dancing — wear that blue tutu that you love and twirl and twirl.

I say wear whatever clothes you want. Wear blue because you like blue, not because it’s a boys’ colour. And if you like pink, well, wear pink. And if you want to wear your sister’s dress, then heck, go ahead and do that too.

What’s that? Well of course you can wear fairy wings. Oh, and a firefighter’s hat too? Sure. And you know what? I’ll wear one too. And we’ll all head out for a walk, dressed in our glad rags, laughing and giggling.

‘Shall we play with clay today, Mummy?’ Sure.

Shall we add some sparkly beads?’ Sure.

And why not? Are pretty things that sparkle only to be enjoyed by girls?

‘Do you want to play soccer, Mummy?’ Sure do, buddy. But let’s play it because it brings you joy, not because it’s a boys’ sport. And maybe after we finish we can go inside and finish that tea party we were playing this morning?

I have a little boy.

He is a boy. He is a child. He likes to play. He builds blocks and plays house. He plays soccer and dances on painted tippy-toes.

He really couldn’t care less if he uses a pink toothbrush or a blue one. And neither could I.

And neither should you.

I have a little boy.

87 Replies to “A Message for my Little Boy who likes to Wear Tutus”

  1. Well said mama. They’re children for such a short time. Let them be little, I say, and obviously so do you πŸ™‚

    He’s a very lucky little boy to have you as his mum.

    1. Thank you. Yes, let’s allow them to be children.

  2. Kate,

    Your post today nearly brought tears to my eyes. I have always believed in not creating stereotypical environments for children. I have let it be known to all who will listen that when this first child of mine is born I will buy dolls for if it is a boy or girl, for I believe that they should and will all learn to be nurturingand caring. I will buy cars for a boy or a girl, who says that only boys can play with things that have wheels, I drive a car and so shall my girls. If my boys want to go to dance class I will nurture this request with all my being. For who knows what is in their heart to be in the future and who are we as adults to restrict what this might be. No! All children need all opportunities. I will provide my children with the 100 languages that they desire, no matter what colour or form they come in.

    1. Yes! I can see what lights him from within. He loves to create and invent and dance and sing. Why would I deprive him of these joys? You have said it beautifully. Yes the hundred languages are there! And I too will let them shine through.

  3. Beautiful Post. He can feel very proud of his mum.

  4. He’s adorable. A little boy comes to my girls pre school dance class sometimes in a spiderman suit but often in a ballet dress and nobody minds one bit.

  5. And your little boy has a wonderful Mum xo

  6. Well said, Kate. My son, now 8, also dressed in tutus and fairy wings and liked having his nails painted (along with many other boys I know). He was being a child exploring with freedom and joy, just as it seems your son is. I say good for you for giving the freedom to be a child and develop his own sensibilities of the world! He will be a more confident, caring person for it.

  7. I’m soooooooo glad to see this post…. “no way, the hundred Is there.”

  8. Wonderful post! I think it’s quite sad that gender-stereotyping is still so present in our society. From toy adverts to aisles in toy shops labelled “Boys” and “Girls”… I hope I can help my son to grow up as a person, not just a boy.

    And if when my son grows up, he turns up to be something “regretable”, I will support him and love him just the same.

    1. The only things I could possibly imagine those “regrettable” things to be are violence, abuse and cruelty.

      1. By using the word “regrettable” I was referring to the words “lest you’ll regret it later” uttered by the person Kate had to deal with.

        The comment directed at Kate included two ideas that I don’t agree with: that playing with what has traditionally been considered to be girl things will “make” a boy gay, and that being gay is bad. I was trying to refute both ideas.

  9. You are a wonderful person for writing this. By having a blog, you put yourself out there for negative comments. Ignore them. You know what is right.

  10. As a rule, I NEVER comment on blogs… but this one requires a response. This entry is a thing of beauty and EVERY parent should read it. Bless you and bless your boy!

  11. Thank you for this post Kate. I agree with everything you say. You are a wonderful mother, and have two amazing little people. πŸ™‚

  12. Holly McCormick says:

    Thank you for this, I could not agree more, as a mother of boy/girl twins age 3.

  13. Wonderful. Just wonderful. I wish every child could express themselves in such a loving home as your. I always love your blog, today especially so.

  14. I was very touched your post this morning. Thank you.

  15. My 3 year old son picked out his special “first day of school” dress from his sister’s closet, following her example. He was proud to wear it into his new classroom, and we (Mommy, Daddy and Sissy) were proud to enter with him. Thank you for supporting your children to simply be children, too!

  16. You so beautifully articulated what so many need to hear! Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚

  17. I have a little girl, her favourite colour is blue, she loves to play with sticks, dresses as a pirate and prefers Diego to Dora .. I have a bigger girl, she likes to climb trees, play soccer, box with a punch bag, do martial arts and play Star Wars. They still however love ballet, singing, wearing pretty dresses, doing their nails, drawing, reading and writing. Good on you for letting your children be who they want to be and for saying it in a beautiful way

  18. Beautiful.

  19. I have 4 boys, only one of whom is still very little, the others are well on their way to “big”. All of my boys are growing into wonderful masculine men of whom I am so proud. And each and every one of them has played dress up in their mommy’s and Daddy’s clothes, have loved sparkly things, found beauty in flowers and fairies, and prettiness in general. They have all played with dolls, and sat next to me on the sofa “breastfeeding” their dolls while I breastfed their younger siblings. They have all worn their babies in their slings “just like mommy does” And we all played sports, and in the mud, and with spiders and snakes and worms, and built forts and gotten dirty and played with trucks and tractors, and cooked and cleaned and learned to nurture together! What better way to make excellent future daddies, than to practice loving and nurturing while they are small?

    Good for you! Enjoy your little boy just as he is, they are little for such a short time!

  20. Beautiful, deeply touching. Thank you πŸ™‚

  21. I totally agree, I have 3 boys, and I encourage them to like what they want and be confident in their choices, all too soon they will be in Kindy and school and be told by their peers what they should and should not do and like. All I can do is instill confidence and allow them the joy of fairy wings, pink, strawberry shortcake, sparkles and glitter if they like that, along with fire trucks, bunny ears, pirates and teenage mutant ninja turtles, we are always saying ‘you can like what you want and dont let anybody tell you different’

  22. YES! I too have a little boy who likes to pretend to be a princess as much as he likes to pretend to be a fireman. I too have came up against negativity for ‘allowing’ him to do so. Great post Kate πŸ™‚

  23. I love this! Thank you so much for such a beautiful post. I have two boys and they do pretty much boy stuff, but my oldest has a baby doll (that he calls French Fried Robot) that he loves dearly. I hope that no one gives him a hard time for it, but it might happen. He really enjoys taking care of that baby, and really enjoy watching him πŸ™‚

  24. Rock on.

  25. As I read these very words my little man is frolicking about in a hot pink ballet dress with wings and couldn’t be happier! Beautiful xxx

  26. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. That’s what I think of this post as a mom of two boys — I LOVE it. I’ll be sharing it EVERYWHERE!!

  27. Wonderful, Kate! I always say kids learn just as much about themselves as they do the world around them through play. If we don’t let them try out many different roles, how are they supposed to figure out who they are?

  28. We feel the same way about our kids! My son loves to sing and dance and play dress up. He loves having tea parties and cuddling his bears. My daughter loves super heroes and monsters and dragons and sports. They prefers to wear each others clothes and often we will just let them wear whatever they want, even if that means my son puts on his sister’s purple sweat pants and she wears his overalls. I let them be who they want to be and explore everything they take interest in. I’m glad that others do the same!!

    1. You’re a beautiful and amazing person and Mummy xx

  29. Love it! I made my brother wear dresses, play with dolls, curled his hair etc (in turn i played trains, dug in the dirt, and rolled in the mud). My mom did not interfere because we were so happily playing together. He grew up to be a stereotypical manly man who likes sports and loves to date girls. I’m your average tomboy and married to a wonderful man who is just as sweet and gentle and manly as my brother. I think we turned out just fine:)

  30. Here here Kate, good on you for writing this post. As a Mama to a little boy, I completely and utterly agree with you. I’ve had this discussion with my husband and unfortunately he is not of the same belief and I’m very sure his parents wouldn’t be either (had sons and no daughters) which is a complete shame, but I will still let my little one do whatever it is he pleases.

  31. Beautiful post. I love following your blog. You are an inspiration.

  32. Lovely!

    I have a boy (maybe two, though the small one is much more stereotypically boyish) who does not fit the ‘boy ideal’. He has no interest in playing football or cricket, and while he adores Star Wars he could care less about super heroes and is as in love with Queen Amidalla as he is with Yoda. When he was little I ignored all the ignorant comments about him going to the shops in the fluro orange tutu, and about him wearing pink gumboots. When he was little I could ignore the comments because he didn’t notice any of it… now he is at school and it is harder to ignore, harder to keep telling him to be whoever he wants to be… but still so very important.

  33. Thank you. I needed this post today after my son came home saying that he was teased for wearing a headband he made for himself on the rainbow loom. He was so proud to wear it to school today and it crushed me that he was made fun of for it. Thank you for bringing out the tears.

  34. This is so lovely, it brought me to tears. I have a sweet little boy too. I have always made a point of creating non gender stereotyped toys and playspaces. I can’t believe that in this ‘day and age’ people see this as an issue or feel the need to comment. Lovely Lovely post.

  35. Beautiful post. Simple, but powerful. Will be sharing soon. πŸ™‚

  36. Well OF COURSE! How could any parent (or person) want it any other way. Not only is it common sense, it is beautiful. Your boy (and girl, of course) is blessed to have you as his Mama.

  37. Beautifully composed Kate. I’m sure you speak for lots of parents here.

  38. Kate your post was beautiful to read. As a teacher I think about what is provided for our children to support them as they explore who they are, where do they fit and what brings them joy. While writing an assignment on how media impacts on young girls’ body image, I came across a book called ‘My Princess Boy’. We often read this and it creates many questions and comments from our curious under 5’s. It provides an opportunity for teachers to share and celebrate that we are all unique.

  39. Just beautiful! I wish I had a little boy who danced in a tutu. Luckily, I have a little girl who loves mud and sport!

  40. What a beautifull post !
    I have a girl who wear “The little Prince” costume, or a pirate costume and love robots πŸ˜‰

  41. Love this! I feel like there is a movement to allow girls to be whatever they want, but boys are boxed in tiny stereotypical walls.

  42. So true. And you have the intelligence to understand it. Your boy is lucky.

  43. Girls are seen as adventurous and spirited if they are into “boy” things. Boys have it tough if they are interested in “girl” things. I completely dislike the stereotypes and line drawn in what is acceptable play for boys and girls. My toddler loves to share tea with me and tuck his baby into bed. I’m lucky that his Daddy now sees why that is important too πŸ™‚ Let’s face it, more men are likely to raise babies then drive front end loaders.

    Horray for this wonderful post!

  44. I love this so much. One of my daughters had a real thing for Spiderman and Ben10 t-shirts for years, she didn’t care that they were for ‘boys’, she liked them and that was all that mattered. I got all kinds of superficial criticism from ‘does she think she’s a boy?’ to ‘why do you let her dress like that?’, but it mattered none. What mattered was that she was happy, and she was answering the call of her heart at that time in her life.

  45. All I can say is that, as a face painter for the past 20 years, I have painted (on cheeks, arms, etc.) a good number of flowers and hearts with sparkles on boys, and spiders and snakes without sparkles on girls πŸ™‚ I can also say that most parents (mothers and/or fathers) try to encourage the child to get a design which is more “gender appropriate.” I will then comment on the fact that I’ve done lots of “whatever” on little boys or girls, so the parent will hopefully relax and allow, and then I’ll turn to the child and say “Get whatever it is YOU really want.” I’m happy to report that the majority of kids will listen to me—and themselves—and pick what they want. I’ll also ask if a child (boy or girl) wants glitter, especially the boys since it’s more common for them to not want things glittery, and I DO believe they often times say “no” because it’s stereotypical. Some will say “glitter is for girls,” while others will realize glitter has to do with “effect” not gender (sometimes with my encouragement that it makes it more “flashy”), and will enthusiastically want it on their lightning bolts! And there are some girls who really just don’t like pink and glitter and really want that “black snake with the red eyes”!

    Of course, as we know, there ARE cases in which these things INDICATE that a child will grow up finding that the gender they were born as is not the gender they are in their hearts and minds. This is rarely a case of environmental influence—it simply IS, and it would become apparent as a child gets older. And if that’s the case, then it IS. One of my dearest friends knew, from the time he was maybe 10 years old, that he was “gay” when he secretly tried on one of his mother’s bras and knew it was “wrong,” though he didn’t yet know what of “gay” or what that meant. But for anyone to assume this in relation to very young children, to me, is absurd. They are free spirits learning about the world and the many things in it to see, do and feel. They are getting their “sea legs” as human beings.

    Being well-rounded, balanced individuals is what we should all be STRIVING for, not preventing, and to me, that’s what this post and discussion is about πŸ˜€

  46. Love. My son loves doing everything his big sister does and wears my high heels, sparkly headbands, plays with baby dolls and pushes around a pink stroller. He also loves trucks, balls, the color blue and trains, but so does my daughter. πŸ™‚

  47. This is a lovely, joyful post and a wonderful reflection on your parenting, but I can’t help feeling a little sad that this is a conversation we still need to have. I have a little girl who is passionate about vehicles of all kinds, so the comments we get are different (dare I say more bemused and dismissive than mean-spirited), but no less ignorant. I’m going to try to keep your third paragraph in my mind. It is simple wisdom.

  48. What a wonderful mom you are! He sounds like a boy that lives life to its fullest.

  49. Me too! πŸ™‚ Beautifully expressed πŸ™‚ x

  50. Beautiful post

  51. I completely agree and Love this post! Wonderful!

  52. So beautiful! This needs to be shared and celebrated by all!

  53. So i admit just today my boy said he wants to be a girl and dress like a girl dont remember how he worded it and i responded that he was a boy and it is actually more fun to be a a boy and no you dont want to dress like a girl.. so this gave me pause..i do love the freedom you give your son and yourself to be themselves even if that changes everyday..my boy is 4

  54. Beautifully said, let’s give all our children the freedom to express themselves and be who they want to be.

  55. what a great post! When I was a little girl, I remember goint to the store with mom, dad, sister, and brother to buy toys. They told us to choose what we wanted. I chose a little car and my mom told me I should buy a doll, even though I didn’t want to, because girls shouldn’t play with cars, so they bought me a rainbow bright doll. I was about 2 years old, and I still remember that. When my brother and sister were at school, I used to play with my brother’s cars for hours and hours till they came back. Later at school carnival parties, when other girls dressed up as princesses, I dressed up as zoro, or clown. At school breaks I played football with the boys. Now, I’m 32, happily living with a man, and the love for sports I had, made me a personal trainer, that’s all! I just ‘ve never been the high-heeled, make up, nail painting kind of girl, but I like it!

  56. So deeply moving

  57. This made my heart SING!! I wish more parents thought this way!

  58. Beautiful! Love your attitude, agree wholeheartedly.

  59. How well expressed. Over form Dorkymums tuesday treats

  60. Awesome post. I also have a boy, and a girl. When she gets her nails painted, so does he. He dresses up in tiaras and dresses, and he likes being “pretty”. I hate gender stereotypes.

    My kids were only in school for a few weeks before I started unschooling, but in that short time they picked up things like girls can only wear pink, and only boys can like cars. We’re slowly trying to get them out of that mindset.

    Gender stereotypes limit our children’s dreams. We can’t do that to them. If we don’t let them be who they really are inside, who will? I love seeing other moms that feel this way. It’s not so common…

  61. This is so true!!! Love ya Lady..xoxo

  62. Fantastic. I loved reading this.

  63. My daughter and her youngest sons, (6 and 10) have a night where they paint their toenails. The youngest one couldn’t wait to show off his nails on Christmas to all the guests. It was adorable!!! Recently my 10 year old spend a few days with us and his polish came off in the hot tub so we had a fun filled night of pedicures and red polish. Let a child be free, to express themselves and they will grown up with confidence. I see my grandson many years from now painting his girlfriends or wife’s toenails for her.

  64. Also, LOVED this story. You are a wonderful mom.

  65. Jennifer L. says:

    Oi, I have two girls and the gender stereotypes go both ways, but this story is so useful for parents of boys! One day we had a neighbor boy visiting our house and the girls, per usual, were dressing in costumes and wrapping themselves in flowing scarves from head to toe. The boy (then 4) joined in the play and was having a fantastic time jumping and twirling with this big fluffy thing of a skirt.He settled on some fairy costume and was happily wearing it most of the time he was at ourhouse. The girls didn’t care in the slightest. They wouldn’t have considered saying something like, “That’s a girl dress” or some other non-sense. They knew–it was pretend play and in their imaginations; one can be whatever one wants to be. Well, his parents came to pick him up and if I could have predicted their response, I would have ensured that the boy was back in his regular clothes to not draw attention to their imaginative play. Both of his parents were rolling their eyes wondering what kinds of life-time implications his wearing a dress might have on his overall gender identification. He is bigger now (all of 6!), and would not even dream of wearing a swishy dress, because boys play soccer, ride bikes and pretend they don’t have feelings.

    Across the street, we have a boy with two moms and he struts his fairy dresses and sparkly shoes with pride, so thankfully we have a good mix of what it means to be a person on our street. I understand where the big feelings come from (no one wants to watch their gay son/daughter be taunted/teased/harassed), but it’s our job as parents to teach our children that not only can they be what they want to be, but that they have hearts big enough to accept others however they are too. I doubt our other neighbor will have learned to be as kind if he comes across one of his buddies sporting a tu-tu one day (given the eyeball rolling that he’ll likely learn from his parents response–).

    Good luck protecting the space around your boy so that he can grow up to be the person he wants to be–and not the person society want him to be.

  66. Perfectly said. Thank you. As a mother of three boys (and one girl) I am so pleased to read this.

  67. Good for Mom. I wanted my boy to take Dance but he refused sayin all his buddies would laugh, now he has a police record. I still love him so. Wonder who is laughing now. I am proud of how you are raising your son, bless you Mom.

  68. I had a little boy who liked pink, and silky ribbons, and fairy dolls. I let him play, despite people giving me “those warnings”! Now he is a 6ft5 tall goth who only wears black, and listens to music that melts my eardrums. But guess what? He is still that sensitive boy whow ears his heart on his sleeves, and is kind and gentle. Lucky me. Lucky all of us with gentle children πŸ™‚

  69. Loved this post! Thank you!

  70. You only live once, so you may as well do it in a way that makes the most happiness. My little girl likes pink and tutus but she also likes trains, planes and automobiles and has plenty of them! I’ve been a little dissappointed that she comes home from daycare lately talking about “boy things” and “girl things”. I challenge her with simple “why can’t a girl like trucks/ or whatever?” Or reinforce that boys are allowed to have tea parties and play with dollies too.
    Sharing traditional gender roles doesn’t make children “gay,” it helps teach them to be compassionate, considerate, independant adults later in life.

  71. This post put the biggest smile on my face! I hope to parent in a similarly gender-neutral way. Way to go!

  72. Your blog is a source of inspiration for teaching and for raising children to be happy. Listen to your heart and it will bring only happiness. Thanks for sharing your work.

  73. Thank you for this. My son is 3 and I want him to experience whatever he wants to. I wont let him fall into gender memes so early! At Bed Bath and Beyond today they had a displayfor Disney’s Frozen items. He has always been in love with Anna and Elsa, but in way where he loves their long hair. They had Anna hats and Elsa hats that had attached ponytails or long braids. HE LOVED THEM. He would wear them in the store and stroke the braids. He then said proudly “I need a dress!”. And why not? He was playing pretend and admiring characters he loves. He can be and do whatever the mood strikes.
    Young children really don’t know the difference between boys and girls. They should be free to play with whatever their imagination desires. Tea Parties and dump trucks are common in our house. πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing this wonderful message.

  74. When I was about 8 the one toy I wanted more than anything was an Erector set; but my mother said that Erector sets were for boys. I got a another doll.
    My brother, who has no interest whatsoever in building, left it out in the rain and it rusted.
    I grew up to be an architect.

  75. Mike Woolfe says:

    I have a little girl, her first self chosen toy at 18 months was a gun, she doesn’t like ballet or gymnastics and wants to be a fighter… I have never mentioned fighting, we have no TV and she has not had any exposure to fighting. I encourage her to be who she is and how she is…. I make jewellery and her mother makes documentaries. I love your post and your bravery to do the right thing by your child, the world is full of ignorance and opinionated fools… we must show them the light for the sake of their offspring…

  76. Kimberly Dooley says:

    I have a little girl who loves to play with cars and trucks, balls and bats, superheroes, dinosaurs, dragons, you name it… but, she also loves dolls and sparkly things too. I love your post! I have had at least one person (an older person) tell me I need to get rid of the trucks and such. I don’t think so!!!

  77. So beautiful!!!! I dont have kids, but I support 100% your words!!!!

  78. If only the free spirit of children could be doused on those who antagonize and over complicate…. what a gift for them that would be. I love this piece. i also have a boy πŸ™‚

Comments are closed.