I saw a business man running across the street yesterday. He was heading to a business lunch, had his laptop bag over his shoulder and wore a navy suit. Somehow, no matter how professional, how business-like or how old the man is, there is a second image I always see:alittle boy dressed up in his daddy’s clothes. There is something about the suit itself that is costume-like. It is also something about being a man.
Men don’t walk the line as much as pant wearing, skirt wearing, briefcase toting, diaper bag dragging, makeup wearing, baseball cap donning women.
On Facebook recently, two images caught my eye. One is a photo and the other a video.
There is no question that the way women are portrayed in everything from toys to airbrushed media is extremely dysfunctional and detrimental. When it comes to clothes and style though, girls and women can pretty much wear whatever they want.
But, when my son wants to dress fancy and he grabs his tie but then puts it back in the drawer because he doesn’t like the feel of a collared shirt. What do we do? We pull out the gold sparkly shoes. At J Crew when my son wanted a glittery shirt, I brought him over to choose one. “That ‘s the girl section,” he exclaimed. I used my little white lie pass knowing how image conscious he already is
and replied, “No, they just keep all the sparkly shirts together.” I don’t want to take away at all from how important and thoroughly messed up body image and stereotypes are for girls, but I’m just wondering when boundaries will flex a bit for boys.
We live in a city where little glimpses of pushing the envelope can be seen. A neighborhood gentleman enjoys wearing skirts and the chino beige, as well as the khaki fabric seems to go well with his full length beard. But in mainstream media, boys in skirts, a bit of a heel or a little sparkle is just a slapstick moment…and for a little boy who just wants some flexibility in his wardrobe without being mocked, that’s a slap in the face.
So, when little boys can start being themselves, instead of dressing up in their daddies suits, and becoming the really rigidly defined version of what we think a man is, then the world we all live in, is going to become a much brighter place!
The second image was a video empowering girls to be ‘more than a princess’… or rather reminding us that they are and we are. On the flip side, men in nurturing careers are still seen as “less than” perpetuating the gender stereotypes on both sides of the street. So, I guess what I ‘m saying is that while we’re encouraging our girls to be strong, scientific, and settled on their skin, we must not forget to allow and perhaps encourage our boys to be gentle and nurturing and strong. Strong is no longer the ‘male version’ of strong. It’s being redefined by you, by me, by our sons, and our daughters.