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Boys Wearing Boas to Preschool? Sure, Why Not?

little girl dress up clothes

Do dresses like these belong in the closets of preschool-age boys? © Kohl's

When I was four, I had two imaginary friends. Marshay, (which at the time, I believed to be the most beautiful name ever) who was a gorgeous girl with soft features and long, wavy black hair and Johnson, who was modeled after the Sesame Street muppet Roosevelt Franklin.

When my son was four, he would name any doll, toy or action figure in his possession “Dit Dit.” He knew other names — he had friends with other names. He liked the way “Dit Dit” sounded, so that’s what everything he owned was called. Until he got a fish. That he dubbed “Straw.”

When my daughter was four, she would insist — insist — on picking out her own clothes. This would result in outfits that included, among other things, snow boots and a tutu, a scarf and a sundress and a pink fuzzy sweater paired with orange shorts and green tights.

I love the preschool years because unlike a toddler, who tends to make decisions soley on impulse, preschoolers usually put a little more thought and creativty into their actions. There is purpose behind what they do. Having said that, kids that are between the ages of 3 and 5 are also some of the most absurd creatures you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

Some don’t like it when food on their plate touches other food on their plate. They tell jokes that don’t make sense. They dance in the supermarket aisles. They think kitchen utensils are funny (at least mine did). And sometimes they want to wear clothing that isn’t “gender-appropriate” to school.

(Aha! I knew I’d get to the point eventually.)

If my young son ever asked to wear a dress to preschool, I admit that intially it would give me pause — would he be teased? Would he feel strange once he got there? Would the teacher mind? (Although I suspect a preschool teacher, well-versed in the odd behaviors of the under-5 set wouldn’t even blink an eye.)

Ultimately, though, I’d let him, chalking it up to the peculiarities of childhood.

Let’s face it — girl’s clothing is fun! It’s visual and tactile. You can clomp around and make a lot of noise in high heels — not to mention, grab a couple of inches of height over your friends. And dresses and scarves and boas are pretty! And sparkly!

Heck, I’m 36 and there are days I would love to head out to the grocery store in a boa and a sequined top. I wouldn’t because I’d probably get some raised eyebrows and other assorted strange looks (also, sequins make me look pale), but in a way, that makes me sad. As they get older, our kids will have plenty of time to dress appropriately. Can’t we give our little ones a little more time to be little?

When my daughter was in her mismatched phase (one that I’m not entirely sure she’s grown out of), while her looks were likely to draw the ire of Mr. Blackwell, ultimately they were an expression of her growing creativity and independence. So I encouraged and humored her, allowing her to dress as she liked (weather-permitting) and off the store, preschool and other places we’d go, she earning smiles (and compliments) all the way.

So why wouldn’t I extend the same benefits to my son?

And by the way, when my little girl asked to dress in “boy clothes”  for preschool — for argument’s sake let’s say a shirt with cars or trucks on it, or one adorned with a popular sports figure — no one batted an eyelash. So why are we holding our kids to different standards?

The preschool years make for some of the sweetest, funniest memories of all. We should embrace the quirks and eccentricities that come with little kids, because they don’t last for very long. Encourage their growing independence by letting them make their own decisions whenever we can, so when they grow up they turn into funny, self-reliant, free-thinking adults. Our job as parents are to encourage the burgeoning creativity of our little ones, supporting them as they figure out who they are and who they are going to be.

Whether they are wearing a pink tutu when they do it or not.

Would you let your son wear a dress to preschool?


Guest blogger FunnyMum has an interesting take on “cross-dressing” preschoolers, one I hadn’t really considered.

2 Responses to “Boys Wearing Boas to Preschool? Sure, Why Not?”

  1. Pop Culture Mom says:

    I completely agree. I refuse to hold my son to a different standard than my daughter, just because some people are ignorant and/or old-fashioned. My daughter’s school has uniforms, so there isn’t much variety in what she can wear; but the shorts, pants and shirt the girls wear are the same shorts, pants and shirts the boys wear. There have been many times where, if we dint fix her hair just right, she could be easily mistaken for a boy. No one seems to think anything is wrong with this. Girls get one additional item of clothing boys don’t — a plaid jumper (which Pop Culture Toddler calls a “tutu”). If my son like girls’ clothes and also just wanted the option of alternating another piece of clothing into his otherwise incredibly boring uniform, why the heck not? Men in Scotland wear kilts to special occasions. Throughout history, men have worn tunics. In some cultures, pink is “for boys” and blue “for girls.” So, basically, norms change and cultures vary. My husband looks great in pink, so why would I raise a son with the mentality that it’s wrong? If my open-mindedness extends to a boy wearing a dress, so be it.

    Maybe it’s a phase, and maybe its not. If it’s not, I certainly wouldn’t want my son thinking at age 3 or 4 that his parents are intolerant of who he is.


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