One of my 7-year-old daughter’s teachers got engaged over the summer.
“Is she marrying a boy or a girl?” she asked when I relayed the news.
It was a question that made my heart sing. I am head over heels about the fact that my kids are growing up in a generation so open to equality that many of them don’t even know about the existence of inequality.
This Halloween, places like Target and Disney are helping to eliminate defined gender roles by getting rid of gender-based signs in the bedding and toy sections of their stores. According to The Mary Sue, instead of organizing Halloween costumes for girls in sections highlighted in pink, and boy costumes in blue, the costumes are displayed in just one big section in which the subcategories are simply: Costumes for Kids, Costumes for Babies, Costume Accessories, and Halloween Clothes.
I don’t know about you, but I get the sense that a permanent change is on its way. While removing gender signs in big retailers may be merely symbolic for some, there’s no question it’s helping to prevent kids from feeling bound to conform to gender roles the way previous generations did. I’ve overheard discussions between both my daughters and their friends where they’ll acknowledge it’s OK for boys to wear dresses, and girls to like trucks (even though my girls have both insisted lately on forsaking pajamas for skirts, and dressy tops for their overnight apparel, but still).
The takeaway, of course, is that a boy might think he can’t wear a Snow White costume for girls, but a Snow White costume for kids? Why not? The only thing standing in their way are not likely other kids, but the parents that are still living in the dark ages. However, the good news is that enlightened people have become “the rule” not “the exception,” and hopefully it’s just a matter of time before Kids sections rule over Boys and Girls. If it only takes one person to start a revolution, then we’re already in the middle of a war against the restraints placed on each gender by an antiquated view of what’s appropriate.
The only thing that might make the Disney Store’s Halloween section better, is if Disney actually had a boy model in an Elsa dress, or a girl dressed in a Captain America get-up. But we’ll take what we can get, especially from a place that knows the value of a male fairy godmother (Tim Gunn’s Baileywick on Sofia the First).
Making matters even better, is the Disney Store’s theme this Halloween of “I am Awesome.” Because nothing is, in fact, more awesome than not drawing attention to how awesome you are, and letting kids have the spotlight all to themselves.