Thursday, 24 March 2016

Headbands are for hair not just for girls!

Our local Pharmacy is great as they have a vast array of remedies but they also have the standard range of other items like nappies, hygiene and cleaning products and weight loss merchandise. On entry you also see two revolving stands, one that has glasses and the other that has hairbands, clips and headbands.
On this visit William spotted the stand with the hair products and started asking a variety of questions. He seemed sincerely intrigued at what each product would do, from creating bunches and pony tails to keeping hair out of your eyes.
Over this last year he has been growing his hair long. On a visit to the hairdressers he asked if he could have his hair left alone so he could grow it longer; this was the first time that he had taken any notice of his appearance and I decided that actually if that is what he wants then why not.
What seemed apparent was that he wanted to do more with his hair and find a style that suited him; at seven years old I felt this was his way of gaining his own identity and with it I thought it would teach him a good lesson in bodily consent.

So with this in mind, and in addition to seeing the headbands, he asked if he could get one to push his hair back and keep it out of his eyes. Without any hesitation I asked him to choose a few colours that were available and we went to pay.
When we reached the counter two different things happened:

1.       The lady in the queue next to us, who had been close by when we were choosing colours, saw what we had placed on the counter, sternly looked at me and then shook her head.
2.       The cashier looked at me and then down at the two boys and then said “Are you sure you want these?”
I understood the looks and judgement but my children didn’t. On leaving the shop William asked if we were allowed to buy them as the “ladies didn’t seem very happy”.
How was I meant to explain generic gender stereotyping within socialistic expectations?

I don’t know many families with small children, male or female, where the child hasn’t experienced having their nails varnished or face being painted.

In a society that produces cosmetics in a promotion of self-esteem is it really that surprising?

Children will witness their parent putting on make-up and painting their nails when they are heading out and subsequently see this as an act of self-preservation within society’s guidelines of appearance. This will make them want to do and experience that same thing.
I know, for example, that both of my boys (James more so than William) have had their nails painted on numerous times.
If this is the case then what should be the difference for something like a headband?
Stripped to its basic level, disregarding gender, the purchase of the headband is nothing more than a sensible lifestyle choice that is promoting self-care and hygiene where hair is restricted and organised to a style that is both comfortable and practical.
Why then is it more questionable to allow a child to be judged on gender specifics when you have a variety of sporting and film celebrities, such as David Beckham, wearing headbands?
I think instead of offering a gender expectation and going along with the concept that “boys will be boys” a better example should “children will be children”. Instead allow children to play, dress and interact based on their identity rather than taking on a gender specific role.
More importantly than all of this is the fact that William is happy with his choice and if you ask me, I think he looks great with his hairband!


Kim Carberry said...

I think his hairband looks fab...When I saw you mention it on Twitter I thought of all the footballers which wear them. I think it is great. William gets to keep his hair out of his face but still keeps his own identity by having long hair.

Unknown said...

I got the same response in the dentist when my son chose a Tinkerbell sticker for being good in the chair - "wouldn't you rather have this iron man one?" said the dentist concerned. Ummm no, he absolutely loves Tinkerbell, watches the movies regularly and cuddles his Tinkerbell doll at bedtime. It's never occurred to me to be bothered in any way by this. I'm sure exactly sure what I should be worried of? A happy child?? How terrible!

Agent Spitback said...

I immediately thought of the footballers when I started reading your post. I know of older boys who have long hair and who use a hairband for sports as well and no one has even blinked an eye at that. I didn't even think much of it as I do not think it should be gender defining. This is tricky as as a parent, you cannot control what others say or do, and when the judging is at a younger age, how do you handle that? I don't really know. For me, I try as best to build my children's self confidence as that is the best mechanism against being judged.

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks Kim! I think so too! He's happy with it and that's all that matters. If footballers can do it then I can't see a problem.

Martyn Kitney said...

How terrible! Why people push their gender stereotypes onto others I will never know. I don't see a problem with it, I just see a happy child.

Martyn Kitney said...

See, I'm the same as you and if I saw it I wouldn't think differently. I don't know either, it is a tricky one. But I also think the action taken to buy it without hesitation to then allow them to be comfortable will make their self esteem better to brush of the judgements.

thisiswhereitisat said...

Fair play, my sons wear hairs bands, pigtails, pink , my eldest loves his nails being painted and if he saw the nails on this post he would be desperate to have them. Sadly soem people have sexist attitudes which are just thoughts that create stereotypes X

Ojo said...

My 13 year old son wears a hairband, and has his nails painted. He plays electric guitar, as far as he's concerned, because of the bands he loves, it's perfectly normal. I totally agree with him, who on earth decided it was just for girls? Silly women in the shop x

Christi W. said...

This is so great! I have a daughter, she's 12 now but when she was younger she was totally into trucks playing in the dirt and all things that would be typically considered boy behaviors. Wasn't until she was 8 or 9 that she started wanting to wear dresses and be a bit more girly. (If she never did it wouldn't have mattered to me either way. She's totes awesome!)

I digress... I think it's awesome that you take allow your son to just be. Headbands are for hair. Tinkerbell is a fairy who is the absolute best at fixing and making EVERYTHING! Geez I wanna be Tinkerbell! Kudos to you my friend! Great Dad-ing! Keep up the good work!

Sending Love and positive parenting energy from my little family to yours!

Cherry said...

I love this post! My recently turned 4 year old has asked for a hairband so we are going to buy him one - my biggest problem was my 6 year old daughter who declared they were just for girls! We have had a lot of talk about things being for every one!!!