One mom dropped the mic after a hater criticized her son for wearing an Elsa dress.
Earlier this month, UK mom Haylee Bazen let her three-year-old son Zackary wear Elsaâs signature blue gown to school so that he could show his teachers and friends. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with one âlady at the bus stop who felt the need to interrupt my conversation with my son.â
According to Metro UK, the stranger asked the mom, âAre you punishing your son by making him wear that?â
In that moment, Bazen was shocked, but she later wrote a strongly-worded open letter on Facebook, where she hit back at the hater in the best way possible.
âI am NOT sorry you didn't like how he was dressed nor am I sorry that you didn't like our discussion topic of who our favourite Disney Princess is (Snow White obviously),â she wrote. âZackary is my three-year-old son and he can be who he wants to be.â
The 30-year-old mom then listed a number of positive reasons why she let her son wear his Elsa dress to school, noting âhe doesn't understand the gender stereotypes YOU think he should conform to.â
âHe plays with cars and dolls, princesses and pirates,â she continued. âHe rides his scooter or pushes his pram. He wears zombie face painting or lip stick and if he choose (sic) to wear a dress he can!!â
âNext time you see us, dressed as a princess or cowboy, keep you disapproving stares to yourself,â she concluded. âYour (sic) the one that should be embarrassed to leave the house not us!!â
Since posting her open letter, Bazenâs post has gone viral with an incredible 205,000 likes and over 30,000 shares. In the comments, users unanimously agreed that itâs 2016 and boys can like princesses, too.
âWish there were more mums like you,â one wrote. âWhy shouldn't the little fella wear what he wants. He is expressing himself.....stuff the silly people of this world!â
Another simply said: âLove this, slay in that Elsa dress.â
This isnât the first time a little boy and his Disney princess dress has made headlines. In October, a photo of a three-year-old Virginia boy dressed as Elsa for Halloween went viral after his dad posted it to Facebook.
Additionally, earlier this year, superstar Adele was spotted in Disneyland with her three-year-old son, who was dressed as Anna from âFrozen.â Clearly, Disney princesses and dresses arenât just for girls.
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Try to focus less on gender differences in general, Brown said. One way is to remove gendered speech from your language as much as you can. Constantly referring to people by their sex or gender labels it to children as something that matters very much, she said, and therefore tells them that it's an important part of who they are -- perhaps more important than factors like their personality or strengths. âI try to just make it not something that really comes up much,â she advised.
âThere's a lot of individual differences among children that don't follow gender lines,â Brown said. It's far more productive to focus on the things about our children that have nothing to do with sex or gender: their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and personality traits. âThe reality is that gender is pretty irrelevant for predicting what kids are like,â she said. Moving away from a focus on what boys are like and what girls are like allows us to instead discover what is actually unique about our child.
âIt's important to know the facts,â Brown said. â[Parents] should know that there's no differences whether they have boys or girls in terms of academic differences, personality, etc.â In fact, when studying infants and young children, the research shows very few inherent differences based on sex, she said. Boys tend to have a bit less inhibitory control at birth and girls tend to talk earlier, though this does even out as male and female children age. In general, Brown said, research tends to match what we know about development in general -- as in, differences that show up between boys and girls as they get older are related to how we treat male and female children differently, not due to any inherent differences between the sexes.
While studies show only slight differences based on sex, they do illustrate that a strong focus on gender norms can be harmful, Brown said. For girls, the negative effects can include poor body image due to the universal value placed on appearance, specifically, a very narrow definition of acceptable appearance for females. For example, Brown said, âBy the time they're 12 years old more than 70 percent of girls aren't happy with how they look.â In addition, we've seen that girls stay away from careers in science and math (STEM careers) because they perceive themselves as weaker in those subjects, even when research shows that their actual abilities are the same as for boys.
But gender stereotypes can hurt boys too. âOne of the most disturbing outcomes of stereotypes for boys is that we really tell boys that you shouldn't cry, and parents worry if they're son is very sensitive,â Brown said. Parents can focus too much on trying to avoid introversion and push assertiveness on boys who just don't fit that personality type. But studies don't show any differences between boys and girls tending towards being natural introverts, she said. At the same time as we could be preventing boys from expressing their feelings, we give them aggressive outlets like violent toys. âWe shouldn't be surprised that boys grow up and don't know how to handle sadness and feelings well and show a lot more aggression,â she said.
Many new parents are surprised by how quickly the focus on gender begins. For example, have you ever tried to find a shirt with a cat on it for a boy? Somewhere along the line it was decided that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, and cats are for girls and dogs are for boys, and clothing and toys for even the youngest children often falls strictly on these arbitrary divisions. This can extend to our behaviour towards boy and girl children as well. Brown mentioned research that shows that people tend to read and speak more to female babies, using more complicated vocabulary, and other studies show that the number and quality of words young children hear can affect their educational success later.
Toys are not just fun for kids; they're also a learning tool. When selecting playthings for your child, break away from thinking in terms of gender or a particular section of the toy store. Instead, choose toys that foster traits you want to encourage in your children, or help them learn particular skills you value. Do you want your child to be nurturing and empathetic? Then provide baby dolls, for boys and girls. Lego and blocks help all children develop spatial skills, and ball play improves hand-eye coordination whether your child is male or female. âWe want to make sure we teach the traits that are important,â Brown said, ânot the toys that fit âtheirâ half of the toy store.â
Are you working on busting gender stereotypes in your own home only to feel undermined when grandma or grandpa says that dolls are only for little girls, or that all boys like to play rough? It can be tricky to get family members on board, but it's worth trying. This will ensure your children are hearing messages that matter to you and to make your family values clear. Brown said that a discussion can often avoid problems. Even if your parents or in-laws don't agree with your decision to keep your children from playing with guns or fashion dolls, they may still respect it. Barring that, she suggested, there's always the donation bin at your local thrift store. âI think it's alright to say âThese are my kids, and I can decide what they have and how they dress,ââ she said.
âKids about three years old start to believe gender stereotypes,â Brown said. That's why it's important to consistently correct stereotypes about gender and sex when your child hears them or uses them, even if they seem harmless or silly. But it doesn't need to be a lecture or something that requires a deep discussion each time. For example, you can say things like, âBoys and girls both like to play with trucks. Your friend Jenny likes trucks a lot, doesn't she?â The key factor is making those corrections every time you hear a stereotype, Brown said, providing your children with the language they need to do it on their own when they're older and coming across stereotypes in the media or outside their homes.