My 2-Year-Old Boy Wanted to Wear a Dress to Our Wedding, So We Let Him

Maria at Zen Photography

http://www.zenphotography.com.au
Maria at Zen Photography

As told to Lauren Levy by Joanna Minuzzo. 

First, let me introduce you to my family. We are just a regular family of five, my husband, myself and three children; two girls and a boy.

We are a strong family unit and work hard at it. My husband is in the Navy and I am self-employed as a gentle sleep consultant. We share care of my 6- and 7-year-old girls with their dad, who is an essential family member for us, and our 2-year-old son lovingly calls him “Grandad” -- but that’s another story.

  • My gentle, sweet little boy first started to take an interest in wearing "girls" clothes when he began to like Minnie Mouse shortly before his second birthday.

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    His sister has a red polka dot Minnie Mouse dress and one day about eight months ago, he brought it to me asking to wear it. I laughed and said “little mate, dresses aren’t for boys.” But then I stopped and questioned that. Why can't he wear it? Who is he hurting? Who makes these rules anyway?

    He really wanted to wear it, so I just put it on him and let him wear it. We were in the house, had a giggle, and off he went happy as could be playing with his big sister ... and that’s how it started. He was just 1 year old and super happy to wear it. He loves to wear pretty things and to be just like his big sisters.

    When his sisters and dad saw him, we all just laughed and thought it was cute. He is has no idea he is a boy yet and doesn't bear the weight of society's expectations. My biggest concern wasn't anything to do with society, it was just that he would trip over something because the dress was quite long.

    It has become a regular occurrence for him to want to wear Minnie Mouse. He has shirts, dresses, and socks. He loves a cat dress that belonged to his sister, too.

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  • When I married my husband in May this year, I had bought my son a kilt from Scotland (my homeland) to wear.

    I imagined him looking so smart standing waiting for me with his dad. He refused to wear it. At first, I was a little disappointed when he didn't want to wear it because I thought he would have looked really good in it. But I realized quite quickly I would have to adjust my expectations. 

    We then bought a little suit to look just like his dad's so they could be matching on the day. We brought it out for him to try on but he cried and got so upset. That was the reaction every time he saw it and he refused to even try it on. 

  • From the look of sheer delight when he saw his sisters' dresses for the day, I knew then we would most likely have to get him a dress to wear.

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    We borrowed a beautiful blue dress from a friend last minute and brought it with us in case he still had the same reaction to seeing the suit that matched his dad's. My husband and I discussed it and said we would try the suit first, but if that failed, we would show him the dress. We knew that deep down. We both laughed about it because to us, it's not that big a deal, so it wasn't a hard decision. Ultimately, we knew the dress was what he was going to wear. 

    The photographer captured the moments when my husband brought the suit out and then the dress, and the results were heartwarming. He loved it the minute he saw it.

    To have my son relaxed and happy on my wedding day just helped with the flow of the day. We didn’t want any of the children to feel uncomfortable, so we let them tell us what the boundaries were. My preference was to have both girls as ring bearers as I didn’t have any bridesmaids, but my oldest daughter felt like that was too much pressure, so I respected that.

  • Our photographer is a good friend of ours and she took photos of me getting ready with my girls and wanted to get some shots of the boys. I'm so glad she did.

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    When I first saw the photos, I cried. I was so proud of my husband and it was such a beautiful moment between the two of them. The photos from those moments are breathtaking and really is the essence of being a parent. To put your expectations aside and meet your children's needs. That’s not to say our children don’t have boundaries, they absolutely do. We are not permissive parents, but we are respectful of them as individuals.

  • I cannot begin to describe the love I felt for both of them not only on the day but when I saw those photos.

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    The beautiful moment between father and son getting ready on our wedding day. The fact that my husband was helping our son into a dress made the moment even more special.

    You see, our beautiful sweet boy is 2. He doesn’t yet bear the weight of society's expectations or gender roles. He doesn’t understand why he can't wear what he wants, and to be honest, I couldn’t find a valid reason why he couldn’t wear a dress either! The last thing we wanted on the wedding day was to have a really unhappy toddler that was miserable and crying.

    When our girls saw him in a dress on our wedding day, they just laughed and thought it was cute. They adore him. They didn't have any questions about it. I constantly talk to them about how everyone is different and being of a certain gender doesn't define what you can and can't wear or like. We actually just had a discussion yesterday about how girls can be strong and like to play with dinosaurs just as much as boys do.

    The dress also wasn't any sort of problem with guests. The wedding was so small that everyone knew that it was likely he would end up wearing a dress. In the lead-up to it, I had heard a few comments here and there but I don’t pay any attention to what others say. He is our son and this was out choice.

    In the end, the people we had at the wedding knew that he loved to wear a dress and they saw how happy he was, so it wasn’t an issue.

  • I've read comments that said he shouldn’t be deciding what to wear because he is 2.

    We could have forced him into the outfit but what would that have achieved? Lots of unnecessary stress and tears. I respected his choice.

    The end result was beautiful.

    I worried about what he would think when he is older but then I am raising three very conscious, curious, kind, and accepting little people. By the time he is of an age to understand, I am hoping he will be confident enough in himself to know that this is not that big a deal, your clothes don’t define who you are as a person, and other people's opinions don’t matter. What matters is that we are kind, we are true to who we really are and that we accept people where they are at in a particular point in time. 

    Now, we just go with the flow. He will often turn up to day care in a dress or a pink Minnie Mouse shirt or whatever else he fancies. As long as it's sun-safe, I'm not going to fight him on it. There is absolutely no point in sweating the small stuff. He may or may not grow out of it. I will let him decide. Either way, I'm OK with it.

  • I am also hoping by the time he is an adult, then we won't still be having this conversation.

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    I want my children to be able to grow up confident in their self-expression, not taking on other opinions as their own, and to be free to be who they want to be. We have a generation of adults terrified of being themselves from fear of not being accepted.

    That starts with us as parents, to teach our children that the magic of the world comes in the form of different people, different ways of thinking and being. If we all taught our children this, then maybe, just maybe, there would be less bullying, less hate, less trolling and we would live in a happier world?!

  • As a parent, it's important to give your children autonomy over certain things, like what they want to wear.

    Through that, we are fostering independence and letting them make choices allows them to express themselves. Through self-expression, they can be who they truly are. The thought of my children not letting the world see their true light that they bring to the world saddens me.

  • I want my children to grow up confident and resilient, knowing that they can achieve great things when they are themselves. 

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    The world can be cruel but I want my children to grow up knowing that the only opinion that counts is their own. Each to their own.

  • To anyone that is critical, I send them love. It's not my business what they think. 

    http://www.zenphotography.com.au
    Maria at Zen Photography

    I'm not going to tell them how to raise their children. If the “worst” thing I do as a parent is allow my children autonomy and allow them to make their own clothing choices, then I think I'm doing a really good job.

    I am raising kind, conscious, and curious children. I want them to know that there is such a diverse world out there. I want them to explore but above all, I want them to be kind. What I've done isn’t groundbreaking or inspirational. It was a no-brainier for us. We have bigger things to worry about than whether the kids are conforming to gender stereotypes and others' expectations. If we try and live up to others' expectations, we will always miss the mark, but if we are true to who we are then the rest doesn’t matter.