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Moms Talk: The Tale of the Tutu-Wearing Boy

Moms, would you let your son strut around a theme park in jeans and a tutu? Put in your two cents here.

While standing in line for a ride at Legoland last week, I saw something rather interesting. A little boy, five or six years old, was dressed in a nice sweater, jeans and … a rainbow colored tutu!

His mother, unassuming in a sweater and jeans herself, smiled and chatted with her son as though nothing was amiss. Several folks in line snickered and pointed. One snuck out their camera phone and snapped a pic. As we boarded the ride, I couldn’t help but wonder how  their conversation had gone that morning. Had the little boy insisted on the tutu and the mother sighed, thrown her hands in the air and said, “Well, what the heck. Why not?” And if that was the case, what was this little boy doing with a tutu in his wardrobe in the first place? Did he have older sisters who did ballet? Or, could the mother have possibly encouraged the wardrobe choice herself?

I saw the little tutu boy throughout the day as we worked our way through the theme park (well, he was hard to miss, with those neon pink stripes!) and I couldn’t help but think about him all the way home. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so bothered. After all, my boys aren’t asking to dress up in tutus. Why should I care how someone else dresses their child? I guess what remained troubling is not so much an issue of gender confusion but of pure embarrassment. Why set your child up for ridicule?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I clearly remember my younger brother clomping around the house in my plastic pink high heels, and he turned out just fine. And my own children had their own, er, wardrobe malfunctions. My son insisted on wearing the same shirt five days in a row in kindergarten. And my daughter stripped out of her clothes on a daily basis when she was three, leaving my neighbors scratching their heads and most likely wondering if she owned any clothes. And when she finally decided she liked staying dressed, her choice of outfits were, well, not exactly matching. I finally gave up giving lengthy explanations to the teachers about her dressing herself and just flashed them a knowing smile instead. And eventually, she wised up and now has become a bit of a shopaholic!

So, where do we draw the line when it comes to our kids’ choice of clothing? Should we save them from potential embarrassment if they make a poor choice? And in the case of the tutu-wearing boy, do you commend his mother for letting him strut around in a glaringly awkward outfit, or do you think she should have set her foot down and said “no”?

Cheryl January 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Excellent response to this ridiculous article. Don't we have better things to worry about in this world than a 5 year old boy wearing a tutu. MYOB couldn't be more appropriate!
Karen Koczwara January 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I definitely was not judging that mom but more curious as to the circumstances surrounding it. Kids are ridiculed for even the smallest things these days..from their ears being too big to their knobby knees to buck teeth. These are examples of things that cannot be changed..if there is a way to avoid ridicule if possible i am all for that. Loves Lake forest..i think you said it best..teachable moment:)
Paige Austin January 21, 2012 at 05:13 AM
But is it all that important to avoid ridicule? I mean do you do so at the cost of self-expression and call it justified? It seems like the lesson there is borders on: "It's better to pretend to be someone you're not in order to fit in than to endure ridicule for being true to yourself." I think that being self-assured is a huge gift, and you don't get it by being a people-pleaser. You get it by suffering the slings and arrows of life and realizing you have what it takes to shrug it off an focus on the things that matter to you rather than the expectations that random people place upon you. I know so many people who worry so much about what others expect of them that it feels foreign to them to even stop and consider what they want for themselves. How do they get that way? Think of all the cool things that would never have been accomplished or attempted if everyone were afraid of being laughed at. I think it's important not to inadvertently instill a fear of ridicule in kids. So what if the kid gets a few sideways looks from strangers at an amusement park? He probably had a blast.
Stamper January 22, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I'm amazed that people actually snickered at the boy. No one seems to mind when boys dress up in other costumes or when girls dress up with tutus. It's no one's business. When my son was little, he liked to have his fingernails painted because i used to paint his sister's nails and i had painted nails too. But I told him that I would only put clear polish on him, because clear was a "boy color" and pink was for girls. I guess I was worried about people snickering at him like this boy with the pink tutu. But my son also used to carry a doll around with him everywhere when he was little. Only one time did someone say something. An older man looked at me with a disgusted look and sneered, "Oh is that his baby doll?" He walked away before i had a chance to say something. But I was really offended. It was none of his business! But about allowing toddlers to throw tantrums in a store or restaurant. I don't think that's right either. When my kids throw tantrums, i calmly pick them up and carry them out of the store. I calmly tell them that we'll go back inside when they're finished crying. Then they stop and we go back in. I don't think its right to subject other shoppers or diners to the screaming.
UGH December 17, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I know I'm way late to this . . . but I stumbled on this while looking for a tutu to buy my 4 year-old son, because he asked for one . . . and was completely horrified. "I clearly remember my younger brother clomping around the house in my plastic pink high heels, and he turned out just fine." Turned out just fine? As in, turned out heterosexual? Turned out to rigidly conform to societal gender roles? Where are you going there? Just one out of many disgusting lines in a disgusting story. Get over yourself! Not everyone is required to conform to your narrow-minded expectations so that you won't be "bothered" by them . . . If you had any decency you would have been bothered by the adults snickering and snapping photos, not the CHILD or his mother, who were doing absolutely nothing wrong!! Mind your own business and let kids be kids! Parents wouldn't have to worry so much about avoiding ridicule for their kids if other parents were teaching their kids basic decency- ie not to ridicule someone just for expressing themselves- but that would require them to have a shred of decency first!

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