Rakeiora you are at the age where you are aware of gender – the differences between boys and girls, men and women. You have been for a while but lately you have been speaking out lately when you have a strong opinion on this topic. It’s really got me thinking and I feel it’s timely to put out my message about this. Boys can be beautiful too.
What I’ve noticed
Your best friend is a girl and it’s over the last year, the two have you seem to have been more aware of the society messages around gender. I actually wondered how long your innocent, un-gendered play would last. Your play now often takes on more boy/girl roles. Still super cute though! You both know each other so well.
What I have noticed Rakeiora is that you have made comments like, “That’s for girls,” and, “Wahine don’t do that.” In play, you always tell me to play the female roles and you of course are the boy – usually Batman! You like to dance and you tell me I am Beauty and you are the Beast. One costume that you were bought last Christmas, had a picture of a girl on the front. You said that you couldn’t wear it as it was a ‘girls’ one.
The particular comment that prompted me to write this, was a topic you have talked about quite a lot lately. You have been saying, “I’m not beautiful aye?” When you first said this, I thought where has this come from? Then you went on to talk about how your best friend said you were beautiful and my immediate thought was, oh how nice is that. But you seemed quite frustrated about it and said that you’re not beautiful, you’re handsome.
What I think
My position on this is strong. I believe that regardless of whether you are male or female, you can do or be whatever you want. You can be a boy and be beautiful. Who ever said that only women were beautiful? Or that men could only be handsome? I really hate societal norms that dictate our thinking and actions. If you look up (I mean google of course) the word beauty, nothing sticks out that refers to beauty being related only to females. I am aware though of the usual thinking around this. Many people still play out these ideas though, probably even unconsciously.
I’ve heard someone say to you Rakeiora, ‘you’re screaming like a girl’. Even basic things like choosing cutlery at someone else’s house. They’ve made the assumption that you wouldn’t want the pink one because you are a boy. And being told, you wouldn’t want that one because it’s for a girl. Just the other day someone was talking about how they would have to go and buy pink clothes for a baby girl coming. I immediately think – why? To be honest, even if you did have a sister, most people would probably think they’re a boy because they would not be dressed like a ‘typical’ girl. Pink is actually my least favourite colour (Papa knows this well!) Probably due to an inner rebellion to the concept that girls wear pink. I feel like we can be so blinded into thinking a certain way, because that’s how it’s always been. It is what we have heard and seen around us. It has become our ‘norm’.
It’s over to you boys
My boys, you can wear pink if you want! You can use a pink cup if you want. You can scream however you want to! Boys can be beautiful too. And likewise, girls can wear blue and choose blue or green or whatever they want to. I know this is going to be an ongoing conversation we have as you grow and as you grow too Haeata. There are so many influences in our world and many others will have their opinion on this. For now, I will keep talking to you Rakeiora and showing you another perspective. Another way to look at things that may be different from what you are hearing.
Always question the ‘norm’ boys. Where did this norm come from? Do I believe it? Do I want to continue this thinking? If not, pave a new way that sits well within you. And remember, boys can be beautiful too 🙂