Family LIfe, Featured, Parenting

What If My Son Wants Pink Sparkly Shoes?

Sparkles and Stretchmarks’ blog post this week about Disney’s confusion over allowing a boy to attend their Princess day experience has got me thinking.

I’d consider myself a feminist. I try to educate myself about the issues facing LGBT+ people, and I hope I’d be considered an ally! I am anti gendered toys (I write, as my son charges around the kitchen with his baby doll in a buggy).

But what would I do if my son asked for pink sparkly shoes? 

I’ll be honest, this has already happened once, and I’m not sure I’m proud of the fact that I said no.

In my defence, as weak as this sounds, I could only afford to get him one pair of shoes, and they had to be suitable for every occasion – I’m sure parents of girls would try to divert them away from the sparkly ones if they were in the same situation.

X with Baby Steve

Now that he’s a bit older, and I don’t mind the thought of him being in cheap Primark shoes instead of expensive Clarks ones from time to time, pink sparkly shoes don’t sound as financially scary. Obviously, I’d worry that he’d be the butt of some less than intelligent comments, but I know that the people who matter would not have a problem with it.

X is an intelligent 3 year old who knows his own mind. He wants long hair, he often has his nails painted, and on the rare occasion we go clothes shopping, I let him pick. He loves cars more than life and that’s entirely his choice – they were never pushed on him, and he’s always had a variety of toys, including those more traditionally associated with girls.

The prevalence of campaigns like #lettoysbetoys, and the results of the BBC documentary “No More Boys and Girls” proves that we are, as parents, becoming more aware that “traditional” gender ideas could actually be damaging our children’s potential.

I grew up as a bit of a tomboy – I’m still not hugely keen on floaty dresses, or bright pink fluffy things. But that’s not seen as anything bad – whereas if a boy shows more interest in skirts and sparkles they’re brandished as “girly” like it’s something negative.

If we define anything for girls as being “not good enough” for boys, that’s how our children will grow up to see the world – with men the stronger and more capable. And that’s not just a bad thing for girls – boys are growing up expecting to be silent and “man up” when it comes to problems. X came home from nursery saying “big boys don’t cry” and it broke my heart – such messages, and expectations, are the root cause of the high rate of male suicide. This isn’t something that should be ingrained in our children’s moldable minds at such an early age!

What if my son wants Pink Sparkly Shoes?

If a young boy feels happy in a princess dress, we should encourage that freedom of expression, that imagination. Telling them now that he must act and behave in a certain way just because of his genitalia is bonkers. It wasn’t that long ago that pink was considered “too strong” a colour for girls, and blue “too weak” for boys – times change and so should we. I often find myself quoting the legend that is Tim Minchin – “I don’t believe just ‘cos ideas are tenacious it means they’re worthy“. Just because something has been done a certain way for a long while it doesn’t make it RIGHT. 

I know Disney have confirmed that it isn’t in their policy to deny boys the same experiences as girls at their parks, and I believe they have since changed some wording on their website after Hayley at Sparkles and Stretchmarks wrote her post – which is great, and I hope her little boy enjoys his Princess day! I remember, many moons ago, going out for a meal with my family, and a clown came round making balloon animals. My brother asked for a sword, and was made one. I asked for one too – so we could play fight, obviously – but the clown refused and gave me a flower. It really upset me, even then, that I wasn’t “allowed” something purely because I was a girl.

Equality is a two way street – and until we’re able to stop treating boys and girls differently in childhood, we’ll never get there.

X with Baby Steve

Oh, and I still used that damn flower as a sword, by the way. 🙂




25 thoughts on “What If My Son Wants Pink Sparkly Shoes?

  1. I have been following the story with Hayley and if I’m honest I absolutely disgusted at all the awful comments that she’s been subjected to. It’s actually awful that we still live in a society where we are not allowed, according to some, to be who we want to be, wear what we want to be. So if you boy wants pink sparkly shoes, so be it!!!!

    1. The comments have been so vile. I don’t understand how people can get so offended by the possibility that a boy might like to dress up as something he loves! I feel sorry for those getting so angry about it – they’re clearly missing out on so many wonderful things by being so small minded!

  2. Great post. Our daughter is seven and is a real girly girl – loves nail varnish and anything pink and sparkly. But she also loves power rangers, yu-gi-oh and has decided she wants to be a tattoo artist. Before she started school she loved spiderman and batman and we had so many comments about letting ber have jumpers or trainers with her favourite characters on! It used to annoy me no end. We don’t force adult women to wear dresses or pink – we let them choose; so why do we feel justified in making those choices for children?

    1. Too right. I loved Power Rangers as a kid – I used to pinch my brother’s “action figures” and play with them with my “dolls”. We can only hope that our own kids will be growing up in a world where we’re all a bit more aware of how unnecessary gender divisions are!

  3. I grew up in a pink is for girls and blue is for boys mentality home. I now have twin 2 year olds, and they most definitely are girls, but they like what they like! They have boy themed outfits and pajamas that they love to wear, they have bows that match their “boy” clothes, which they picked themselves, so they mix it up. Thought provoking post! Thanks! #Blogstravaganza
    Amanda H recently posted…SAVED & SECURE – My First Scripture Writing PlanMy Profile

  4. This is a great point to think about! I was faced with a similar shoe dilemma with my son not full on pink & sparkly but something I thought would be made fun of. It’s so hard to know what to do in that situation! I agree we want to support their freedom of expression but sometimes I think kids don’t realize what will happen if they make a statement by being very different and then they get made fun of. So should we try to protect them from that? I don’t have the answer and I’m totally rambling now but I think this is a great post & something we should all think about. As you said equality is a two way street. x

  5. It’s difficult, and as you say spending £40 on shoes you want them suitable for all occasion from school to the park to parties. You also worry. I don’t know where to draw the line, my boys play with whatever they want, wear whatever they want, dress up however they want. Are friends with girls, and boys. And I’m rambling. Really thought provoking post

  6. It seems to be more acceptable for girls to do what is considered typically boyish, but when it’s the other way around people find it harder to get their head around. I have 2 girls, brought up the same and one is more girly than the other. It’s their personality that will shine through and determine what they like or don’t x

  7. Let kids and adults be who they want to be. I just don’t understand how in this day and age that we are still have debates about it, it’s so disappointing that being a boy or girl still leads to boys doing boy things and girls doing girl things. If they are happy them surely that’s the main thing?

  8. I’ve been following Hayley’s story too, the whole Disney thing was shocking enough but the comments she received was awful, I’m so glad Disney have changed their policies. I have a girl and a boy and yes I do tend to buy gender specific, but if they ever requested anything else I would have no problem with it, it’s shame in this day and age so many people still do! x
    Amy recently posted…Autumn Bucket List Mommy And ToddlerMy Profile

  9. I think it is great that Disney has cganged their wordung because of this. I try to bring my girls up in a balanced way. They love their dolls but lots of other toys too. My 4 year old loves dressing up in a halloween bat costume that shes had 2 years now and ignores the princess outfit family keep forcing on her. I love that! I get very annoyed when family say things like space and dinosaurs are boring and for boys! Seriously!

  10. I have followed Hayleys story with complete shock and disgust that Disney would treat boys and girls so differently. My youngest son loves to wear Disney dresses with his sisters and often chooses out things that are pink and “for girls”. I have no issue with this whatsoever, neither should anyone else!

  11. I completely agree and I also feel that it all boils down to females being seen as inferior. That’s why it’s ok for a girl to be “boyish” but not ok for a boy to be “girlish”. Before Peachy was born I knew that I didn’t want to impose girly things on her. It turned out to be impossible to keep things gender neutral so instead we give her both “girly” things and “boy” stuff. She too loves cars. Both real cars and the toy ones she has. The walk to the mailbox at the corner takes 20 minutes because we have to stop every time a car drives by so that Peachy can have a good look. Thanks for joining #Blogstravaganza. Hope to see you again.

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