Why It's Time to Let Our Boys Embrace Being 'Girly'

open letter to Justice

Justice is the store known as being almost exclusively for girls. There are sparkles and feathers and rhinestones and tiaras. There is nail polish and glitter and gold and bling. It is girly heaven. But one mom is thanking the store for something else, something they didn't have to do at all, but something that changed her child's life: They let her son shop there.


For years, Martie Todd Sirois's son has been asking to shop there. He is gender non-conforming and while his mom says he doesn't identify as a girl, nor has he made a transition, he is still drawn to the tulle and the pretty things his sister wears so readily.

Last week, as his mom shared in an open letter to the chain, Justice "made a little boy's dreams come true."

Martie wrote of the sweet Justice store manager, Stephnie, who stayed with the mom and son well past the end of her shift, as she took on the role of "personal shopper" for the evening:

After getting a feel for what colors, textures, and patterns he liked, Stephnie showed us several possibilities, from sequined mini skirts to slim jeggings. My son LOVED them all. We went to the changing room, and my son couldn't get those clothes on fast enough. Once that first outfit was on, he posed and admired himself in the mirror, spun around in circles to see the skirt poof out, and studied himself from all angles in every possible combination of outfits. It was pure joy. My son dropped his frequent doom and gloom look and suddenly sprang to life in these clothes. There was no denying he became a different, more confident, and happier child when wearing pretty things.

For obvious reasons, this post is melting hearts around the country, but as the mom of a boy and two girls, I see something else here, too. I see the start of a sea change.

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We have focused so much, during my 10-year-old daughter's brief life, on finding ways to make sure she can play with Legos, study engineering and math, play sports, and get dirty like the "boys." That stuff has become commonplace for girls. It would be strange not to allow our daughters to explore. To wear jeans. To play rough. To wear blue and yellow and green and anything but pink and purple.

So when can our boys do the same?

When my son was young, he loved to paint his nails. His sister always had them done and so did I, so he loved it, too. Red. Purple. Green. He loved all the colors on his little fingers. But then he got shy. As he became 6 and then 7, he became more and more aware of the fact that he was a "boy" and being a "boy" meant you don't like nail polish. Or pink. Or glitter. Or sparkles.

My daughter could dabble in Minecraft and video games and wear athletic shorts and borrow sweatshirts and T-shirts from her brother. But he can't even consider wearing her pink shoes.

It happened again last summer. The kids were going off to sleep-away camp and I noticed that we'd neglected to buy our son new hiking boots.

"He can just wear his sister's," I told my husband. My husband said no way. Because they were purple and pink. Obviously girlie.

"I don't want people to make fun of him," my husband explained. I didn't either. But I also felt it was pretty silly to buy $75 hiking boots when he had a perfectly good pair that had barely been worn that fit him perfectly.

It's remained like this. My son can't go to dance class or sing too loudly. He wears his hair long and a boy at school asked him if he was a girl.

"What's wrong with being a girl?" my daughter asked later when he told us the story.

Nothing. There is nothing wrong with being a girl. So why can't we let boys play at it? If colors and clothing and toys are really "genderless" then why can't boys do or say or be or wear anything they want?

More from CafeMom: You're Smart to Let Your Little Boy Play 'Princess' -- Here's Proof

If we really want to support our girls and tell them they can be anything they want to be, then let's stop shaming their stuff. Sparkly is cool. So is tulle. So is the color pink and the color purple and all of the dolls in the world. It is cool to play mommy and kitchen just like it is cool to play Legos and guitar and skateboard. Boys can do both. Girls can do both.

I want this world to be better for my girls. I want a world where they can aim high and hit the mark, where they can be the president or an astronaut or the CEO of a major company. But I also want a world where my son can be a teacher or a nurse or a stay-at-home dad without shame or feeling like he somehow failed.

"He may one day be LGBTQ+. He may not. We're open to whatever, as long as he's happy, true to himself, and not hurting anyone," writes Martie. If only all parents were this intelligent and accepting.

We have to do right by our girls and our boys to move forward. Kudos to Justice and kudos to this mom. Every little inch is progress.



Image via Martie Todd Sirois/Facebook

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