- Explaining nuclear fission
- Baking a souffle
- Finding a damn My Little Pony shirt that doesn't have ruffles or bows
My three-year-old, Corbin, is obsessed with My Little Pony right now. Obsessed. It's his favorite show. He has a My Little Pony book that we absolutely must read every single night - I could probably recite the thing in my sleep. For Christmas, my mom made him a fleece My Little Pony-print blanket, and he got a stuffed pony from Build-a-Bear (Applejack, whose jaunty little cowboy hat that I paid $7 extra for was trampled to irreversible flatness within ten minutes).
So like any
I started at Walmart, because cheapness is my jam.
At first, I was encouraged, seeing all the traditionally "boyish" stuff geared toward girls. Ninja Turtle shirts with pink capes! Superhero shirts with ruffles! Surely this meant I wouldn't have a problem finding a My Little Pony shirt that was good for boys, right??
Sure enough, I found the mother-lode of MLP merchandise. But wait - what was this? My enthusiasm dampened as, sifting through t-shirt after t-shirt, I failed to find a single one that didn't have any feminine detailing, like lace or ribbons or pleats. Even the most unadorned shirts were still cut for girls, with curved-in waists and cap sleeves.
I left, frustrated and shirtless. (Well, I mean without buying a My Little Pony shirt. I myself wasn't shirtless. You're welcome, general public.)
Here's the thing. When my son is older, and is able to understand that judgmental people can be (and usually are) wrong, he can wear whatever the hell he wants. I don't care if he chooses to strut his stuff in a pink sequined My Little Pony tutu and a pair of sparkly platform shoes, as long as he knows to expect - and take with a grain of salt - any (inevitable) criticism of his style choices.
Right now, he's just a baby. And people are jerks. And one remark of, "You know that's a girl's shirt, right?" or some similarly unhelpful, unnecessary comment can color his perception of his own choices. I don't want him to feel bad or wrong for wearing what he likes. I want him to be proud that he's wearing his favorite characters - no matter who those characters may be. He would love to wear ANY shirt featuring My Little Pony, and honestly, he'd probably be thrilled by the rhinestones or ruffles. But at what cost? I don't want anybody even giving him side-eye, let alone saying something demeaning his style in his presence. So I seek out the plainest Pony tees.
I just want him to be able to wear a My Little Pony shirt and feel awesome in it. Even if it's the pinkest, laciest, sparkliest shirt on the rack.
It's endlessly frustrating - not just from the perspective of an all-male mother, but from the perspective of a feminist. Girls can go into any store and shop in whatever section they choose - because when they wear "boy clothes," they're lauded as strong and confident. But a boy who shops in the girls' section is virtually guaranteed to be the target of ridicule. Isn't this contrary to the very gender-equality we're trying to achieve? The traits we assign to girls wearing boy clothes are far preferable to the ones we assign to boys wearing girl clothes: soft. Weak. Lesser somehow. When we stop associating femininity with these traits, we can move toward being a truly gender-equal society.
... And little men like mine can wear whatever they feel like wearing, and still be seen for who they really are.