By: Samantha Abukhater
From a young age, we are assigned gender roles. We are taught that if you are a boy, you like the color blue and you play with cars and guns. If you are a girl, you like the color pink, you wear dresses and you play with barbies. It’s so instilled in our society, that when someone tries to defy these ideologies, then they are criticized and shamed at. The biggest example of this is seen with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and their 4 year old daughter, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.
She’s recently been in the headline of tabloids due to the fact that she is sporting short hair and seen in boys clothing. According to Life and Style Weekly, Shiloh has been wanting her parents to call her “John”.
The media not only attacks the Angelina Jolie claiming that she is a wrong and bad parent by letting her daughter dress like a boy, but attacks the four year old, claiming that she is gender confused. A particular magazine even goes as far as comparing her with another four year old, Suri Cruise, calling her a princess, who is served breakfast in bed, tattles on her mom, flushes diamonds down the toilet and gets mani-pedis, while Shiloh is referred to as the “tomboy” who collects dead animals, wears boxers and tattoos, and cuts off heads of dolls- all gender based stereotypes in our society.
Despite all the criticism, when interviewed, her mother brought up some very good points. Angelina believes that Shiloh is making fascinating choices when it comes to her clothing and that she would never force her into something “frilly” simply because society says so. “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.” She says, and “She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything.” She also acknowledged that many four year olds pass through stages of experimentation, where little boys try on ballet costumes and little girls dress like cowboys without it meaning that they’re gender confused.
I went through stages like Shiloh is doing right now. I grew up liking dinosaurs and video games such as Super Mario and war based games as well as kittens and barbies; I liked boy things as well as girl things. I even see this with my little brothers who are four and three. The three year old is obsessed with helicopters and guns, while the four year old loves planting flowers, feathers, sparkles and doing arts and crafts.
It’s not every day that we see a toddler who we believe should be wearing a dress, wearing boy clothing-it goes against our cultural beliefs and ideologies. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt shows how much gender roles are instilled into our everyday life, and how much we believe in them and think they are the right. She posses the idea on our society that not every girl can put on a dress and be as feminine as our culture wants us to be. Not all little boys are going to like guns and cars, and not all little girls are going to like sparkles and ponies, and as a society, we need to learn how to accept that.