Dear Mom and Dad,
You love to remind me that our religion encourages a judgment-free mindset. Though, many times I actually feel most judged by you, and it can hurt. So, here is one thing, at the least, that I need you to understand: colors have no gender.
Pink is not a girl, neither is purple, or red, or orange, or yellow, or green, or blue, or brown, or black, or grey, or any other color of the millions of colors visible to the human eye. Also, blue does not equal boy, neither does purple, or red, or orange, or yellow, or green, or brown, or black, or grey, or any other color out of the millions of colors visible to the human eye.
I know that you know colors have no gender, because when the sky is rid of clouds and the only thing visible for miles is clear soft blue, both of you look up and agree that it is a beautiful day. And when the blue skies are overthrown by a pink and orange sunset, neither of you hesitate to comment that the sky is still beautiful. You didn't think the sky was a boy earlier and now it's a girl, because you must know that colors have no gender, yet I don't understand why you made my little brother put that light pink shirt back on the rack at Macy's and said blatantly "hell no". How do you think that made him feel? It was just a t-shirt.
This is another thing you should know: clothes are just clothes. Clothes are fabric cut outs that hang on our bodies to keep us covered. Fabric has no gender. I understand the whole idea that some clothes are made to best fit the build of a woman or a man, but many things are universal. T-shirts are not just for boys, neither is denim. Dad one time pointed out that "Denim is a man's clothing, because Levi Strauss made jeans specifically for men's labor." Maybe this dude did initially invent a "work jean" that appealed to men. What if women are doing all the "men's labor" on farms and in factories, just like they did for a good six years while men were off serving in World War ll, is the work still men's work? And are the jeans they are working in still only men's jeans? And in the post-war era, where jeans and denim have been popularized because women also find them practical, comfortable, and affordable, is denim still a men's clothing? I certainly don't think so.
Respectfully, of course you are entitled to your own opinions, but this doesn’t mean you should enforce them onto others. It’s your opinion that girls should be dainty and ladylike, and boys should be strong and masculine. Though, you need to understand that forcing your ideas and trying to pass them on can be harmful to others. Pointing out what makes them “different”, or what you think is wrong with them can really take a toll on their self-confidence; when you’re young your’re very vulnerable to the opinions of others. This goes especially towards children who are just growing up, and trying to express themselves in the ways they know how, only to be shot down with the hurtful opinions of adults, even more so by the adults who are telling them they love them at the same time.
Clothing is clothing, and colors are colors, and people have choices. It is their choice to wear what they want, it is their choice to do what they want and be who they want, because it’s their life, so it shouldn't concern you. You don’t need to hate on a little boy who you think that is acting “too feminine” because of the toys he plays with. You don't need to hate on a stranger that you think is unpresentable because her hair is dyed, and now they don't fit into your cardboard box that reads, in all caps: THIS IS A GIRL. How do you make the connection of having dyed hair to the idea that she's crazy, an attention seeker, and not at all ladylike if those are all personality traits, but all you did was take one look and now you think you know who she is?
Your perception of colors, fashion, and mannerisms make up the harsh guidelines by which you are judging your own children! Fashion isn't just for girls, boys can be fashionable too! You judge girls for not being “ladylike” because of things they are passionate about. Girls like to skate and play video games too! Boys can be colorful and creative, and girls can be hardworking and innovative. These are all your ideas on what a boy and girl should be and how they should act, but the default setting isn't everyone's favorite just because it's yours.
When you force your ideals on me and you tell me to go change because my shirt is navy blue, or to cut it out and act like a lady, or to lower my voice because being loud makes a girl ugly, I’ll listen to you. I listen only out of respect, and because sometimes I’ve given up on being myself around you, not because I agree or because I see where you're coming from. But you should know that your all-time favorite, award winning gender norms are not gender rules, and nobody should feel forced into being somebody they're not, somebody they don't want to be, and somebody they don't even like.
If you think the color or fit of a person clothes is worth that much judgement, then you stand alone on this one. I am almost hesitant to remind you that it’s 2017, soon it will be 2018, there are girls out there with shaved heads and boys wearing make-up. Get over it.
The Kid You Raised