I received a review copy of My Princess Boy the other day, written by Cheryl Kilodavis. The name caught my attention. The book cover is pink and shows an androgynous figure wearing a crown and a dress. Flipping through the book, I quickly discover that the book is about an effeminate 4-year-old boy who likes dressing up in “girly dresses” and is drawn to the color pink. The book goes on to tell about his brother who is a boy-boy, preferring sports and his father who tells the 4-year-old how “pretty he looks in a dress”.
Further into the book, it’s quite apparent that the book is about acceptance and tolerance and goes into how hurt the little boy is when others make fun of him as dressing up like a girl becomes his sole identity. He enjoys dressing up as a princess and appears to do so on regular basis, with all the frills and lace. He wears dresses for Halloween, to go to birthday parties and to school. Then the book scolds the mean children for hurting the boy who wears dresses — daring children to laugh at him or call him names and appealing to their guilt and mitigating the Princess Boy’s behavior to get children to accept this as perfectly normal.
The problem as I see it is this — gender roles are a NORMAL part of growing up. It’s a healthy distinction and children are who are not born with a gender identity issue or who are comfortable with their gender, as most people are, shouldn’t be made to feel that gender is interchangeable and something that is only imposed by big, bad people in a big, bad society. That is a big, complex idea for children. While my heart goes out to this child and I hope he can find peace and understanding amongst the world of cruel children, however, if you’re going to test the boundaries and celebrate it, you can’t expect to have the world join you. Good, bad or indifferent, there will be emotional consequences as with most choices in life. One thing that our children need to learn is not everybody is going to like them and accept them and that’s okay, however, my real issue with all of this is that we’ve come into such a politically correct society that everyone, every parent, thinks that their children’s “problems” need to be every child’s burden to bear and I don’t see how that’s helpful. The world does not revolve around any child. The world does not revolve around bullies, it doesn’t revolve around the child who gets everything she wants and it doesn’t revolve around a preschool boy who chooses to wear dresses.
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