12 Powerful Photos That Show There's No One Way to Be a Boy

Jeanne Sager | Mar 3, 2017 Big Kid

boy playing with doll
Kirsten McGoey

Kirsten McGoey started taking photos of little boys in dresses and little boys dressed all in pink as a love letter to her son. "He doesn't walk; he twirls," she says of her middle child. The Canadian photographer knew her photo project, A Boy Can Too, would give her 8-year-old a way to connect with other little boys who are just like him. She could only hope at the time that it would do the same for all the other little boys out there who like pink and ponies and sparkles ... just like her son. 

Based on the letters Kirsten's gotten from as far as Australia, New Zealand, and other spots around the globe, it appears that's exactly what's happening. 

"The project is not going to change someone's mind," Kirsten says. "It's to support the people who are changing someone's mind." 

  • Boys Can Cook

    1

    Kirsten began photographing boys in January 2016, adding the hashtag #ABoyCanToo. Her subjects come from model calls and from family and photographer connections. 

    Who belongs in the kitchen? Anyone who wants to be there. 

  • Boys Can Have Long Hair

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    Long hair ... don't care! "Long hair can be tough, so sometimes they gather it in a French braid to keep it out of the way," explains Kirsten. "He is, after all, an active 3-year-old with a love of cars and trucks, spinning in circles and playing peek-a-boo!"

    Kirsten says she's an ardent fan of Atlanta-based photographer Kate T. Parker, who earned a viral hit in 2014 with her own photo series, "Strong Is the New Pretty," which encouraged girls to look past the stereotypes placed upon them. "I was that girl," she says of her childhood. "But that wasn't my story anymore."

  • Boys Can Wear Barrettes

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    As a mother of three little boys -- including one who "doesn't care about gender norms at all" -- Kirsten wanted to create her own photo project that would help her connect with her sons. Her middle child's story seemed like the right one to tell because no one else was telling it. 

    (He had a little help with his 'do, but it was all based on his own instructions, according to Mom.) 

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  • Boys Can Dance

    4

    "These boys need me more than ever because nobody was going to represent them," Kirsten tells CafeMom. That's who she does it for -- the boys like her own, and boys like Brenden Dindar (pictured here, in the back!), the dancer she photographed at age 15.

  • Boys Can Love to Dance

    5

    Dance allows boys to express emotions that "society doesn't necessarily allow them to share," says Brenden's mom, Nazneen.

    Nazneen says her son had been dancing since age 3 beside his twin sister, Yasmin, but #ABoyCanToo helped him identify his place as a competitive dancer, distinctive from his twin. 

    "There was always this assumption that Yasmin was the dancer and Brenden was along for the ride," Nazneen says. But dance was something he'd actively chosen over the hockey route typical for boys in their hometown of Whitby, British Columbia. 

    As her son is one of the oldest kids to take part in the project, Nazneen says Brenden has gone through the bullying and the challenges that some of the younger boys in the project may have in their future -- may, although she hopes they don't. She sees #ABoyCanToo as a powerful reminder for those kids and their parents that they're not alone. 

  • Boys Can Dress Up

    6

    Dressing up, wearing makeup ... there's a place for every type of actor in the theater. This little guy told Kirsten that being onstage gives him "a rush unlike real life" and he loves that he found a place where his unique talents shine. In fact, she writes on her website, "This young man has had roles in several productions from Oliver to Alice in Wonderland."

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  • Boys Can Love Pink

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    They're amazing kids who have all taught her something along the way, as their stories have spread around the world. 

    (Superheroes come in pink capes too.) 

  • Boys Can Play With Dolls

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    This 3½-year-old is an equal opportunity snuggler ... whether it's with his mom or his favorite doll. 

  • Boys Can Be Gymnasts

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    This gymnast competes in vault, rings, pommels, floor, high bar, and parallel bars.

  • Boys Can Wear Dresses

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    When Kirsten took photos of this little cutie, he informed her he would answer only to "Cinderella." 

    More from CafeMom

  • Boys Can Love Books

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    Putting aside the idea that reading is a "girl thing," this voracious reader has torn through 500+ books already. One of his career aspirations is to be a librarian or a math teacher ... but, as Kirsten says, "At 8, the world is full of possibilities, so why limit him?"

  • Boys Can Rock Minnie Mouse Ears

    12

    A trip to Disney calls for a pink tee and a set of matching Minnie Mouse ears for this kiddo, one of a number of boys Kirsten has photographed in her second year of the "A Boy Can Too" project.   

    For more photos and updates, check out Facebook.com/aboycantoo!

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