What Would You Do is a show with hidden cameras that use every day scenarios to capture people’s reactions. This episode is about a parent and child in the costume shop deciding what to wear.The boy wants to be Belle and the girl wants to be Spiderman. They are trying to break gender norms, but everyone is siding with the parent.
Most reactions are about finding other costume ideas and sticking to gender “appropriate” costumes. The last person was the only one who sided with the child. What would you do in this situation?
They now make costumes for girls such as Spiderman and Batman, which include tutus and more feminine pieces. But what about boy princess outfits? They are expected to be tough and strong; an alternative might be to dress as a prince.
What do these reactions say about our society and the costumes that are “appropriate” for girls and boys?
This post made my mind flash back to Halloween about ten years ago. I think my sister was in sixth grade at the time, making me in the grade above. My sister decided to dress up as a boy for Halloween. Her costume consisted of a black hat, black pants, black shoes, and a black shirt. Nobody ever understood her costume; people always assumed she was a ninja or something of the sort. I found this post interesting because it showed how boys’ and girls’ costumes are classified. My sister’s costume was supposed to be classified as a boy’s costume, but not everyone understood it. My sister believed wearing all black was something boys did, but it turned out to be mistaken for a ninja.
This made me so sad watching other parents try to convince the little boy to pick another costume that would be associated with male gender norms. This type of behavior only perpetuates the stereotyping and gender norms. If this were a real situation (I am sure this is actually happening somewhere in the world to a real mother and son) this little boy could be scared for life. If he believes that his own mother will not let him express himself the way that he wants or even that the way he wants to express himself is wrong he may feel unaccepted for the rest of his life. This could lead to the child not feeling comfortable in his own skin or that the way he sees himself is wrong. This could lead a child to bully others for the same reason. If this child is told that acting or looking feminine is wrong then that could become ingrained in him then he might bully others as he grows older. I think that if we allow our children to express themselves the way they want, like with this little boy and his dress and the little girl like Spiderman then we can start to change our gender norms. This would allow people to not feel so confined to the gender boxes they are put in and allow them to act more androgynous leading to a happier life.
I love this show because it captures the real reactions of people in today’s society. I was personally surprised that so many people sided with the mom instead of the child, since children should be allowed to explore whatever they want. I am a nanny and have watched these two particular boys since they were very young. One of them has decided he likes pink, dolls, dress up, and other “girly” things. Though is parents have never tried to fight it, we always got looks when we would go out places and he chose to wear something that wasn’t “appropriate” for a little boy. I think it is so sad that we put pressure on children to fit into gender norms at such a young age. Seeing the lady at the end of this video tell the little girl it was okay to wear whatever she wants, gives me hope that one day we will be accepting of anyone and everyone regardless of how they choose to dress. I also think it was interesting that there are girl versions of boy costumes, but no boy version of a girl costume. It’s crazy that we believe girls can be “spider-woman” or a pink firefighter, but boys can’t wear blue princess dresses. There are definitely double standards in gender norms that should be reconsidered before we put such high expectations on them.
I am absolutely taken back (in a good way) by the last young woman in the video. What she said was so heartfelt and comforting to the girl, and she seemed like all she wanted was to make that little girl happy! I got goose bumps just watching it, and I believe more people should try and think like this. The video made me question what I would do in this situation. I’d like to think I would be like the young woman and let the boy or girl be who they want, but I’m not really sure how I would react unless I was put in the situation unknowingly. If we had more people like her in the world I believe we would all be a lot less judgmental and more open-minded towards a variety of things like this!