“Children should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they wish without anybody judging them.”

I’m not the biggest fan of Angelina Jolie. I liked her a lot earlier in her career, but since she’s gone all “Mother Teresa,” I’ve found her to be irritating and a little pretentious. However, recently, she’s earned major points with me with her statements regarding the way her daughter Shiloh dresses. The press has criticized Angelina because Shiloh often dresses “like a boy,” and they’ve actually speculated whether Angelina is “turning Shiloh into a boy”* (YEAH. I KNOW.). Angelina has been mum on the whole thing until recently, when she’s spoken about it in several different interviews.

THIS is how to be a good parent. THIS is how you let your child express themselves in a way that the CHILD feels comfortable with, and not what you or society thinks they should be comfortable with. And THIS is how you promote healthy gender expression and growth.

“Shiloh, we feel, has Montenegro style‚Ķ It’s how people dress there. She likes tracksuits, she likes [regular] suits. She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.”

“Children should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they wish without anybody judging them because it is an important part of their growth… Society always has something to learn when it comes to the way we judge each other, label each other. We have far to go.”

“I think [Shiloh] is fascinating, the choices she is making. And I would never be the kind of parent to force somebody to be something they are not. I think that is just bad parenting.”

Can you imagine if more parents felt this way? Can you imagine how many children would avoid the shame and embarrassment of not having a “conventional” gender identity, and could instead focus on finding themselves? And who knows, maybe Shiloh will turn out to be the girliest girl ever when she gets older. But maybe she won’t. And least she got to find for herself what she was most comfortable with.

Major props, Angelina.

*The stylist quoted in that Life & Style piece claims that she was misquoted. However, a magazine still chose to run a story with that headline, which clearly indicates that that was the story they were going for.

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6 Comments

  1. SaNo Gravatar
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree with you on all counts. It’s horrible that Internet people can judge a little girl who is growing up and learning and experimenting. Also I’ve always liked Angelina for some reason and this comforts me in my opinion :)

  2. JanieNo Gravatar
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    My sister was exactly the same when she was younger – had her hair cut short and wore clothes only from the boys section. She even got the rules changed at school so she could wear shorts instead of a summer dress. Now she’s hit puberty she is dressing in a more conventionally feminine way, whether that’s because of peer pressure I don’t know but it seems to be a willing choice and it’s still fairly tomboy-ish. She would have just hated my parents if they’d forced her to wear skirts etc. and then nobody would have been happy. I have to say I admire Angelina Jolie for this – I hope it inspires more parents too.

    xoxox

  3. nenasadijeNo Gravatar
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    LOVE!

    also, re: “Montenegro style” – she might as well have said “Old Man style” ’cause that’s the only group who wears “track suits and regular suits” in that part of the world. though i did see a few douchey 20-somethings sporting knock off Dolce & Gabbana track suits. maybe Montenegro = Jersey Shore?

  4. MegNo Gravatar
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Bravo, Angelina (and Brad!) for allowing Shiloh to just be…Shiloh. And if being Shiloh means dressing in boy clothes and having short hair, well, go Shiloh. I still think she’s a beautiful child.

  5. VanillaKinksNo Gravatar
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    My 6 year old recently announced to me and his father that he plans to grow his hair out, put on make up, and wear dresses this summer, and my husband and I celebrated his decision!

    We told him that he can do anything he wants to do, and we’ll support him 100%. I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised that my husband was so at ease awith his son wanting to dress as a girl, but hubby also made me very proud of him.

    My son hasn’t started wearing dresses just yet, and maybe he never will, but at least he knows his parents will support him either way.

  6. BlaizeNo Gravatar
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I have a little friend who is a boy who wears dresses. His dad is a little uncomfortable about it, but he sees it as his duty to NEVER let the kid know that he, the dad, has issues. The dad knows they are HIS OWN issues, and the kid will get enough crap for wearing dresses from his peers, he doesn’t need any crap from his parents.

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