Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guys and Dolls

Cyndi Lauper raises money for her True Colors fund, a trust that supports a variety of LGBTI initiatives in America. Incidentally, True Colors has some very powerful lyrics, which are really directed at anyone who has ever felt marginalised:
“You with the sad eyes, don't be discouraged, oh I realise it’s hard to take courage. In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all and the darkness inside you can make you feel so small.”
The song crept onto my playlist as I was working moments ago, and made me think of something I witnessed the other day. I was at a party where I saw a little boy clutching and playing with a Barbie doll. He was somewhere between 7 and11 years old (I can’t tell with kids that age!) and he seemed like a really happy balanced kid.

At first I thought he had picked up the doll from the playroom, as the owners of the house have kids. Later, as I witnessed him prancing around the house with it, proudly showing the adults the doll and taking them through its outfit, I realized that it was his. This was confirmed when he left the party with it.

I was taken back by it. Not because I have any problem with it, but because it’s unusual and revolutionary. It has nothing to do with his gender or sexuality, for me. That is irrelevant for now. It's about freedom.

We are now living in a time where many parents give their children the space to be who they want to be. I felt a sense of complete joy as I watched these parents give their son the space to be happy, in whatever form he chooses. They approved of his choice, even if it went against constructed societal norms, and by default all the other partygoers had to approve too.

I saw this Barbara Walters 20/20 interview last week, and was equally taken back by how much these parents fought for their daughter to be allowed to express herself as she feels most comfortable.

The world is filled with so many ill-informed, ignorant people. I think that empowering your children with support and acceptance from an early age (even if they do fit the socially accepted mould) is the ultimate gift any parent can give their child. Parents play a critical role in building the self-esteem and confidence that their children carry with them into adulthood. Positive support is invaluable.

That said, parents are also responsible for preparing their kids for the real world. One friend I chatted to mentioned that she worries that this child may not encounter the same kind of acceptance from his peers and strangers.

Any parent who makes their children feel like showing their True Colors is a beautiful thing is pretty awesome in my books, but I am not a parent - so what do I know?

What do you think? Would you buy your son a doll if he really wanted one? Let me know – I would love to know.