Story time: We recently published an article on one very athletic preschooler after a video went viral. Our readers who saw the main image before reading the article seemed to respond in the same way we, admittedly, initially did.
“What a cute little girl,” they gushed, at Arat Hosseini, the 4-year-old boy dressed in the most gender-neutral shorts and t-shirt.
- Read the full story here: WATCH: A gentle reminder from a 4-year-old future "best football player" to never give up
But then a heaven-sent, Parent24 guardian, a cyber knight to slay the trolls, responded: “Boys can have long hair too.”
In this instance, we’re not about calling anyone a troll. We reserve that title for the meanest of mommy-shamers, the most offended by public breastfeeding and bi-racial kids.
But we will say that if you're criticising a parent for allowing their child to embrace the Jon Bon Jovi hair metal that made 70s glam rock what it was, you may very well be part of the elite Internet task force that tried to take down Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel earlier this year.
Justin’s kid’s hair is long but “no one asked for your opinion”
In July, Justin posted a sweet picture of Jessica kissing their son, Silas, in Paris, and the internet lost it.
Comments on the picture ranged from the seemingly innocent, “Cute little girl, she has beautiful, naturally curly hair” to the direct pitchfork-to-the-parent: “Cut the boy's hair. This is child abuse.”
But then, a few keyboard warriors, fighting the good fight, said exactly what we were all thinking:
“It's a whole lotta old ladies having, 'get off my lawn' moments simultaneously.”
“Idk what’s wrong with people these days. I imagine they’d complain if they were hung with a new rope.”
“No one asked you for your opinion. Parenting is hard enough without people pushing their unwanted opinions on others. Just look at a picture of a child loving his mommy, smile, and scroll past.”
Firstly, shaming someone who chooses to parent differently to you, will in no way affect you and your child. And while you are allowed to have differing opinions and methods of raising your kids to that of Justin and Jessica, you aren’t the Fred and Wilmer Flintstone of parenting.
Parenting is hard enough. We should be forming part of that village to raise our kids, not tearing each other down.
Assuming Silas has to have a buzz cut, wear blue and play with monster trucks at the root of gender normativity. “Imagine having such an unhealthy obsession with your masculinity that a toddler threatens you,” wrote one user.
But it’s hardly that deep. We aren’t removing his pronouns and calling him a theybie, nor are we putting him in a pink dress. We’re just moving past letting his appearance define who he is and who he’s going to be.
“Boys can have long hair too” and other truths
We saw a 3-year-old with long hair in matching shorts and a t-shirt that resembles a romper, so we assumed he was a girl. If that’s all it is, that’s okay – we meant no harm. But we could all be a little more aware so we don’t base our assumptions on what we see, instead of what we know. Here are a few things we all, unwittingly, seem to assume defines a child’s gender:
- Hair length: We assume girls must have long hair and boys are to have a short, neat cut.
- Facial features: It's assumed girls have longer eyelashes and doe eyes, for example.
- Clothing: From the kind of clothes they wear (shorts and sneakers are for boys and dresses for girls) to the colour of said clothes (pink for girls and blue for boys), we make an assumption about their gender.
- Toys: Monster trucks are for boys and dolls are for girls, we assume. But that's not true. A witty retort from the Internet: "So you don't let your son play with dolls? Are you afraid he'll turn out to be… a good father?"
- Emotions: We assume girls are more emotional than boys. But it's okay and completely healthy for boys (and men) to cry as well. Telling a little boy to "rub some dirt in it" only feeds into a culture promoting toxic masculinity.
- Personality traits: Tying into the above, we assume girls are more sensitive and passive while boys are wild and aggressive...
Have you ever been around a child right in the middle of their terrible twos? It doesn't matter if they've got a buzz cut and a pink romper on, or their locks are falling off their shoulders and onto their Superman shirt, they're probably running amok. And it has nothing to do with their gender.
Has anyone ever assumed the gender of your child? How did you handle the situation? Tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.
- "I’m not a boy!" Raising a transgender child
- Make up or war paint and "disrupting the pink aisle": your femininity can be whatever you want it to be, girls
- Beauty for girls, pranks for boys – it’s the same old gender stereotypes for YouTube stars
Sign up to our weekly newsletter to receive Parent24 stories directly to your inbox.