Mom Drags Critics Who Judge Her For Letting Son Wear Dresses And Bows

Kids dress up as all kinds of things—real people, superheroes, animals. And for some reason, people seem to think that there’s something wrong with allowing boys to dress like girls and vice versa. A boy dressing as Wonder Woman is no more likely to turn out gay than a kid pretending to be a dog is going to identify later as canine. There’s not a thing wrong with being gay either, it’s just that one has nothing to do with the other.

Instagram star and YouTuber mom Jessica Ballinger posts a lot about her kids online. And one thing she gets questions about is her 5-year-old son’s predilection for wearing dresses and tutus and bows in his hair.

The tweet said, simply, “Apparently this needs to be said again. Xoxo.” Along with a picture of her son Parker in a dress, Ballinger included a note that read:

“This is my son. He loves lots of things. He loves dressing up and dancing and science and gymnastics and his family and @itsjojosiwa and Mickey Mouse and makeup and Peter Pan and drawing and math and he currently plans to marry his best friend and loves to play family with her and laments that his body can’t carry babies, but he dresses up like he’s pregnant anyway.

I frequently see questions online asking if he’s gay or trans or why does he dress like a GIRL??? My answer is that he is five and he loves a lot of things. If you see a boy in a dress, or playing in a traditionally female role, ask yourself—”if the roles were reversed, would I question it?” When you see a little girl playing fireman/policeman/soldier/any previously male-only role or wearing pants or dressing like a favorite super hero or male celebrity, do you question it? Do you ask if she is gay or trans or imply that she is wrong for having the interests she has? NO, we rightfully celebrate their desire to be and do ANYTHING. We call girls strong and celebrate it. Why don’t we do that for boys?

We limit boys by only allowing them to love what we think boys should love. I do not know what the future holds for our child. I will love him however he identifies. But right now, he has heroes who are girls. I celebrate that. And I think it means a lot for women. We SHOULD be heroes to our little boys. By not allowing boys to dress like the women they admire, you are telling them that being a boy is BETTER. That it doesn’t matter if that girl is brilliant, fierce, and his hero—it will make him “less” to idolize her. It doesn’t make him less to admire women. It makes him MORE. More willing to express what he is passionate about, more respectful of the women in his life and more open to believing women can be heroes.”

She’s right—aside from stunting their own personal development, limiting what boys can wear and telling them they shouldn’t pretend to be girls or women really does give them the impression that women are not worth imitating.

People on Twitter agreed wholeheartedly, but many stated that they were sad Ballinger had to send this message again.

Another woman tweeted a picture of her own young son, dressed as Maleficent, to which Ballinger replied, saying he looked “fierce.”

And someone else claimed that Parker was braver than she was.

Ballinger seems like a great mom and her son Parker is obviously a joy!

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Christopher & I are night owls. The early morning toddler wake-ups were one of my greatest fears back in our days before kids. And wow they were tough! I always wanted to adjust, but waking up at 6 am was just always hard. Always kinda had that nauseous, dizzy feeling and had to force myself to be mom even when my body wanted sleep so badly. . . Four kids deep, and there is some adjustment. When I sleep in, it’s usually till around 8:30 or 9 instead of my original noon. . . But the biggest adjustment has been not needing to wake up with the littles anymore. Every morning, Parker runs in and says “can I get Duncan???” And when I say yes, he squeals with delight and runs and gets his baby brother. I hear Parker cooing to Duncan — changing his diaper, offering him cereal, just completely doting on his little brother. And it’s the SWEETEST thing! I usually spend most of the time listening and smiling instead of sleeping more. . . Bailey is at the age where she sleeps in a bit, but Jacob usually wakes up within about ten minute and joins in. Sometimes they jump into bed for a cuddle or a quick book. But often, they whisper loudly “don’t wake mom and dad!” And then quietly make us our morning tea and coffee and bring it all up with big grins. . . What an incredible blessing it is to raise these people.

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Jessie Dean Altman

Dean Altman is a writer living in NYC.