Saturday, June 20, 2009

The tutu dilemma

In the last few weeks, we've had a mini drama in our house over one pink tutu. I say mini, because for the most part, I am of one opinion, and don't care what other people think. That said, I'm aware that some people persist in the notion that it's "the clothes that make the man", so to speak. 

Several weeks ago, Jack's friend Cleo came over wearing ALL of her costumes. This included one elf dress, one princess dress, several tutus, and two headbands, one bumblebee, and one flowers, and a pair of shiny slippers. Upon seeing her, Jack immediately wanted a costume of his own. Now I guess I could have gotten him a wizard cape or a dinosaur suit, but what he asked for was a tutu. He sees Zoe on Sesame Street wearing one, and Cleo wearing one, and it's one of the first words he could say. So over and over he would say "Tutu mine". What's a mom to do? I thought, I'll ask him if he wants a blue tutu. Maybe that will make it more acceptable. Nope, he wanted a pink tutu, just like Zoe. I am his mother and (sometime slave), so I made him a tutu. 

He freakin loves this thing. He asks to put it on every morning. He sometimes falls asleep in it. He shakes his booty, runs his trucks, and hammers at his work table in it. Sometimes he and his dad even have a catch while wearing it. He sometimes accessorizes it with a yellow hard hat. In my opinion he is all boy (whatever that means). But there have been several comments and asides from the peanut gallery to the effect that this innocent pink tutu might in fact alter our "boy" into something "else". Seriously? I mean. Come ON! He's two years old. He's playing. No one EVER worries that playing with a truck, or wearing pants will make a little girl somehow less of a girl. And frankly, so what if it did? Why the double standard? 

In the book Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, William Pollack examines this contrary set of values we try to impose on boys and young men. We expect them to grow up to be sensitive and emotionally intuitive men. And yet, we shame them for expressing themselves in any way deemed feminine by society. In one section of the book he talks about the way boys and girls were introduced to separation, at kindergarten. The mothers of girls were encouraged to stay as long as was needed, until the child was "ready" to be there independently. In contrast boy's mothers were told that it was better if they just left, and that the boys would "get over it". One young boy vomited into a garbage can every morning for weeks after his mother left. I mean are you fucking kidding me? If my child is barfing because he's so emotionally distressed, I don't think he's "getting over it". This type of conditioning leads to high rates of depression, suicidal tendencies, and anger management issues, in young men. I totally understand there is a need for all children, to go through the many painful stages of growing up, and separating from their parents, but seriously, weeks of barfing isn't good for anyone. 

I have confidence that Jack will grow out of his tutu faze, and he'll hate that I took so many pictures. Or maybe he won't, and he'll love us for allowing him to be just who he was, at that moment.   


  1. My son used to put on wedding veils and stand in front of the three-way mirror and say "I'm a bride Momma. Look at me. A bride."