“Since as early as I can remember my son Louis has always been drawn to bright and colourful toys – he loved ‘Frozen’, danced to ‘Trolls’, enjoyed dressing up and performed proudly at baby ballet.
When he turned 3 the comments started – parents would ask “do you mind him having a ‘girls’ party bag?”; a stranger laughed at him in an ‘Elsa’ dress and said “I’m gonna send a picture of my son wearing one to my husband to wind him up!”… When he was 4 he received a toy car from Father Christmas and he turned to me and said “Mummy why doesn’t he know I don’t like cars?”.
Last May, 6yrs old, I sent him feeling brave, excited and brightly dressed to a new holiday club wearing a unicorn backpack and purple packed lunch box inside. When I picked him up he was a shadow of himself, upset by remarks that had been made continuously throughout the day over his clothes and bag, and finally his drawing – a rainbow with the words ‘kind is the new cool’ over the top, which he’d had snatched off him and crumpled up because ’that’s not what boys draw’. Enough.
As a parent we feel helpless in these situations, we can’t always be with them, and we can’t always stand up for them. I’d started to accept that forever growing up Louis would experience these types of comments – but why should he!? We will not stop him playing and being who he wants to be.
Let’s do better, I believe most often it starts at home. You may feel uncomfortable talking to your child about why gender stereotyping is unkind, correcting a partner or parent for doing just this; worried of what others will think or say if you let your son play with a doll, but that’s just the burden of culture and fear. Instead try focusing on the joy it will bring them, because there will be a lot of it. #BeMoreLouis
Louis’ story was picked up by Be Glad Clothing who have launched an antibullying charity t-shirt with his design on the front, with profit going to Kidscape‘
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