When DQ was a little girl, I was determined that I would not treat her like the girliest of girls – much to the dismay of my mother-in-law. This was the very first granddaughter in a family of boys, crowning DQ as a little princess. My mother-in-law would buy me dresses and dolls for her, and yet my favorite outfit to place her in was t-shirts and overalls. It was no surprise, then, that when DQ got old enough to make her own favorite style choices she abhorred anything pink. Along with pink, she rejected clothing with flowers, or sparkles, or that was in any other color that could be deemed too girly. Her dolls went untouched, and DQ was more interested in racing her bike (a boy’s bike, of course) around the block or hanging with her many guy friends. Oh, her grandma tried to push the girly envelope, as did other members of the family. Christmas consisted of boxes of untouched clothing that only went back to the store. And despite their best efforts, the DQ of today wouldn’t be caught in anything that might ruin her rep as that of a Tomboy.
Apparently the Jolie-Pitt clan is in the same boat. Their blond-haired, blue-eyed 4 year old daughter Shiloh, the one that sports the same coveted pout that her mother possesses, has decided that she no longer wants to look like a girl. Recently the little girl has been all over the news with a very short haircut, raising eyebrows at what might be considered gender confusion on the part of her parents. She has even decided that she’d rather be called Peter or John. If you look back at photos of Shiloh throughout the years, you’ll notice that very rarely has she looked like a girl. She has been seen running and tumbling in boyish clothes alongside her brothers, wielding plastic swords and wearing camouflage pants. (See the photos of Shiloh throughout the years by USMagazine.com)
This is an age when some parents have decided to erase the lines between the genders by practicing what is called gender-neutral parenting. Girls are dressed in less girly clothes and are encouraged to try activities like dirt biking or football. And boys are given dolls and taught how to sew and cook. Years ago, these activities were very gender based. But now, it’s almost offensive to some when it is suggested that only girls should be cooking or boys should be playing sports. Even the popular names have changed to lessen the divide between the sexes: Shiloh, Alex, Jaden, Jordan, Riley, Taylor, and so on.
But should the specific traits of each gender be preserved in girls and in boys? Are parents who encourage traits of both genders in their children actually doing their kids a disservice? Should girls be girls, and boys be boys? And big question: would you let your boy dress like a girl, or your girl dress like a boy, if that is what they wanted?