Lifestyle, Opinions

Gender identity should be determined by kids, not stereotypes

The foundation my son dumped out of my fiancé’s cosmetic case left a stain on the comforter as she applied makeup for a family night out. 

Grayson, my two-year-old son, doesn’t know a lot about what makeup is or what it’s used for. He does know that it’s fun to play with, and he loves the reaction from his mother when he spills it. 

I must admit, I love the reaction he gets out of her too.

“He just dumped out $20 worth of foundation on our bed,” my fiancé exclaimed. “You have to let him know that’s not okay!”

Neither one of us ever thought that our son shouldn’t be playing with makeup. I find it funny; she finds it wasteful.

With defined gender roles becoming a hot topic among parenting circles, people must ask: “Should I let my children choose whatever gender role they feel comfortable in, or should I guide their decision?”

Mattel, Inc. took a stand towards letting children choose their path by debuting the gender-neutral Creatable World doll Sep. 25. The dolls can be modified with short or long hair, and they can wear shorts, pants, skirts, and an assortment of gender-neutral accessories that allow the dolls to be customized without a hard commitment to traditional gender definition. 

“Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel fashion doll design, in a press release. “This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them.”

While Mattel is banking on the success of a doll that retails for about $30 to help kids express themselves with gender non-binary toys, the decision didn’t come without its critics.

Whether a child chooses to surround themselves with gender non-binary paraphernalia to establish their identity, or parents play an active role in shaping their child’s identity, one thing is clear in my eyes: I want my son to make that decision. 

As a parent, the decisions I have to make for another person can be tedious. I have to make sure my son is not eating things off the floor or pulling things off shelves.

I’m in charge of my son’s safety, not determining who he wants to be. One of the biggest responsibilities I have as a father is to make sure my son is loved unconditionally and nurtured in an environment where he can develop into the best version of himself.

I want that version to be someone he chose to be. 

So if someday my son decides to stop wasting his mom’s foundation and start applying it, I’ll be there to support him, as unconditional as the love I’ve felt since the first day we met. 

However, since that will be a shared hobby, I think it’s only fair his mother foots the bill for the makeup. 

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