What's So Wrong About a Boy in a Princess Costume? (VIDEO)

Awww! 49

boy in princess costumeWould you let your little boy be a princess for Halloween? Would you let your daughter be Spider-Man? ABC's What Would You Do sent a mom to the costume store with a couple of kids (all actors). Each kid insisted on a costume that was utterly non-traditional for their gender: Quentin picked out a Belle dress while Joli picked out a Spider-Man costume. Hidden cameras caught how other shoppers would react.

No surprise. Several grownups felt it their duty to inform the kids that they needed to choose a more appropriate costume. "You really can't be a princess," other moms told the boy. Nip that cross-dressing tendency in the bud! I mean, it's just a phase, of course, but what if ...?

The other parents at the store were clearly uncomfortable with the whole idea of little boys in sweet, shiny princess dresses. One mom had a very kind-hearted explanation. She just wanted to save the boy from bullies. "Kids are cruel. I don't want him to get picked on at school, that's all." But I still think the nervousness about boys in princess gowns goes even deeper than that.

It's not quite as bad for girls who want "boy" costumes. They do make "girl" versions of some superhero outfits, after all. But still ... When Joli tried on the Spider-Man costume, grownups at the costume store again went out of their way to try and talk her into something girlier. "Maybe she wants to be like a disco-type girl?" another mom helpfully suggested, pointing to this gem.

disco costume

Ugh, I think I would pick muscular Spider-Man over that, too! But then: Like a ray of light, in comes a young woman named Sally for some "Free to Be Me" positive affirmation!

"What encourages her to do Spider-Man is that she likes the feeling of saving people. It shows that she wants to be a strong woman," Sally tells the mother. I'm a total sap for this kind of thing, but I just love that. When Jolie's pretend mom wanders off, Sally tells Jolie, "She's just worried that other people won't accept you. But if you are strong and you know who you are, and you know what you want, people will respect you for it." What a beautiful message for any kid to hear!

Now ... how do we turn that around for boys who want to dress up as a princess? Would the same idea work for them? What appeals to a little boy about that kind of costume: The vibrancy of the colors, the shimmer, the softness. Can a boy be soft enough to embrace his "feminine" side but still strong enough to stand up for himself if other kids don't accept that? I think that's a harder question for boys than for girls.

I can confidently say that if my son wanted to be a princess for Halloween, I'd be fine with it. But I live in an extremely liberal, accepting community. (Hell, I'd get high-fives from the other parents, for real.) I don't think that it's such a safe option for boys who live elsewhere. Maybe the real question we should be asking is: are we strong enough to stand up for our kids and make this a world where they can be their most authentic selves?

What would you do if your kid wanted a cross-gender costume for Halloween?


Image via ABCNews/YouTube

bullies, boys, girls


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Casey Dalbey

I would let my kid do it, might be a fight with Dad, but a chance I am worth taking. We let our little girls dress up as Flash and vikings, etc, without question. My son wore many pink Dora shirts before Diego came into the mix and it didn't harm him in any way. My brothers all had babies and played kitchen/house and now they are great fathers. I think the denial letting a boy wear a girls costume will be far harsher than others reactions to him wearing it.

kisse... kisses5050

1970.. my brother wanted a blue Gennie costume..  he got one...

I love the picture of Halloween that year.. I am dressed as a minuteman( we had visted WIllamsburg that summer) my sister is a Chicago cub and my brother is a Gennie

my parents were so cool

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I'd buy them whatever costume they wanted and take whatever flack anyone gave me. I'd encourage my child to do the same--who cares what anyone else thinks? Our job is to make our child feel comfortable in his/her own skin. Who am I to say that my son would feel more comfortable in a Spiderman costume rather than a princess one? Or that my daughter would feel better in a princess costume over a Spiderman one? This is 2012, not 1950.

lasombrs lasombrs

Yes, I would allow both my son and daughter to wear whatever they want. DS loves the color pink. So far he picked a fireman this year but if next year its a girl costume thats fine too. DD is a pirate this year, and thats cool with me

nonmember avatar Shannon

I think I would find out WHY he wanted to be a princess. Does he like the color pink? Did he like something princess(es) do in the movies he watched? Does he like pretty girls? It may not that he wants to be a girl or dress like a girl, but emulate some other trait(s) he associates with the character. Then maybe parents might be o.k. with it.

nonmember avatar Rea

I'd let my son wear a dress if he wanted too. It's Halloween and it's a costume, it doesn't mean anything other than my kid is awesome and a little off-beat.
I figure if I'm confidant being his mom and supporting his choices, he'll be a confidant kid making his own choices.

abra819 abra819


nonmember avatar blh

Id ask why he wanted to be a princess. But I wouldn't let him go like that and get made fun of just to prove some stupid point. Not at that age.

fave82 fave82

Um. No.

Angie Hayes

My son wants to be a cupcake for Halloween... cupcake it is.

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