Nonconforming to Gender Norms

Dad and son playing with a dollhouse

Cropped image. Josh Davis, Flickr. CC License.

We received more than the normal number of strange looks recently. I should say my son did.

He’s 3 years old and the world is his oyster. He’s exploring everything, asking about everything, and wanting to be included in everything. That includes the mani/pedi I gave his twin sister.

When I walked in the door from work, my husband told me our son wanted his nails polished, “like Sissy,” and that this was my domain. Not because he objected to the request, but because he can’t stand the smell of nail polish. We were a united front.

I only had two colors of nail polish to choose from: pink or purple. My son chose purple. So, together, we painted his fingernails. He did most of the work and I helped a little (still working on those fine motor skills). The manicure didn’t last long, but he was happy and proud of his accomplishment, so I was happy.

I’ve since bought more colors of quick-dry nail polish. Quick-dry is key.

It’s implied all the time that boys shouldn’t try anything that might be construed as “girly.” Take the movie “Frozen,” for example. It’s a huge hit at our house, so whenever the kids see anything in the store with the characters, we have to look. Recently the kids saw “Frozen” underwear. The undies for girls had the princesses on them. The briefs for boys had the male character and his reindeer. My son liked the boy underwear, but he was disappointed the princesses weren’t included, too.

I bring this up because people are very sensitive to not tell a girl she can’t do something simply because she’s a girl. But it seems to be OK to tell a boy he can’t or shouldn’t do something because he’s a boy. It’s a double standard. And it’s ridiculous.

Frankly, I’m more concerned that my kids don’t grow up to be serial killers or people who take chain mail seriously.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

1 Response to “Nonconforming to Gender Norms”


  1. 1 Anonymous May 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Very good points!


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