Sunday, January 8, 2012

Elliot, the Fairy Princess

These are my friend Heather's kids.  Her daughter, Annie, is on the left, dressed in a very stylish witch outfit.  Her son, Eliot, is on the right, dressed as a fairy princess, sporting the most rockin' red wig I have ever seen. (Go, Eliot!).

He looks incredibly happy there and probably was. He has no idea of the gender suppositions that prevent little boys the simple joys of a sparkly skirt and glitter shoes. 

In twenty years he may want to kill his parents for letting him dress the way he wanted to for Halloween at age two.  For now, he is gleeful.  In twenty years the confines of society will have caught up to him. The teasing will be paramount and his parents will be responsible, at least in his mind.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this is a sign of things to come, and sparkly dresses will always be a favorite.  Who knows.  Either way I would like to point out that he is TWO.

I would also like to point out that this is a COSTUME. Costumes are a part of normal development and play.  Anyone who gets all riled up and mutters about "my son wouldn't  . . ."  about a child wearing a dress has issues.  It ain't the kid who is messed up about gender. It is not a reflection of anything other than the fact that he felt like wearing it and his parents and sister are cool enough to have let him.  In my own lifetime I have been a pirate, a cowboy, a soldier, a mommy, a daddy, a teacher, a "Bad Man," Cinderella, Captain Hook AND Peter Pan.  I'm sure there were a lot more things along the way.  These are just the ones that come to mind.  Some of them I have played the part of as an adult during my nanny days. 

And a two year old little boy wearing something shiny is NOT an indicator of sexuality.  Nor is a little girl who likes Legos. A costume is just another toy exploring the imagination.  It is not about gender, or sexuality, or really, you.

Negotiating gender is always tricky because each action we take is a combination of personal choice and public message.  When you are two, the only public you care about is your immediate family.  Personal choice is sometimes dictated by what the needs of others are, otherwise all the shoes in the house will be in the bathroom for some inexplicable reason, there will be Barbie dolls drowning in the pool, and paint on the dog. 

Two year olds have an inherent sense of what is fair and what is not.  They want what their siblings have because fair is fair.  Eliot has even thrown a tantrum screaming for an American Girl doll because Annie has one.  Fair is fair. He is dressed in a costume that his sister once wore. Fair is fair.

He is not making a statement.  He is not being political.  He does not know what feminism means (although knowing his mother, he will). He is being a two year old who loves his sister and wants to have fun.  And it sure looks like he is doing just that, doesn't it?

All those in favor of Eliot for the best fairy princess there ever was?  Shout hallelujah and comment below.  He gets my vote.