Little Miss North West is not even 2 years old and already she’s stirring up trouble with the gender police.
Her father, Kanye West, claims he invented the leather jogging pant, so it was no surprise to see little North sporting a pair of the slick trousers on her mother Kim Kardashian’s Instagram last week. What was surprising, though, were the reactions to North’s pants from commenters:
“I would love to see this beautiful baby in a pink dress.”
“She looks like a boy. Stop dressing her like a boy. She is a Kardashian. She needs to look pretty.”
“Stop dressing your child like a boy.”
“What is she wearing.”
“This baby never looks like a sweet lil baby. These two parents of hers always have her looking so dark and twisted. The way they dress her is sad…”
Um, sorry commenters. She’s looking pretty fresh to me.
Sadly, gender policing is nothing new. Children have their identities shaped and critiqued virtually from birth—”He’s so strong!” “She’s so sweet!”—and it can be majorly harmful.
Research published in the journal Sex Roles shows that kids whose parents try to reverse gender-atypical behaviors are more likely to develop psychiatric conditions in adulthood than children whose parents allow them to express themselves freely. As Feministe writer Habladora put it, “It isn’t being different that put kids at risk, it’s being punished for being different.”
In North’s case, it’s not her parents doing the gender-policing, but criticism from peers is harmful, too. Research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that gender nonconforming children are frequently ostracized by their peers, can face psychological distress and can have difficult relationships in adulthood.
All this over a pair of pants? It certainly doesn’t seem worth it.
Let’s take a cue from the Kardashian-Wests and let North—and other kids who don’t perform stereotypical masculinity and femininity—do their thing.
Photo via Kim Kardashian’s Instagram.