Thanks in part to Disney, the world has been inundated with superheroes and princesses. And thanks to some very successful and progressive marketing, it’s not only boys who are playing superheroes. Between Superhero Girls, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Okoye, Black Widow, and many others there’s no shortage of super inspiration for little girls these days. But what about the other way around? What about little boys who love Elsa and Belle and want to play princesses?
Historically, gender stereotypes have made it difficult for little boys who want to pretend-play with what are considered “girl toys.” Little boys are encouraged to be Iron Man and Captain America, not Moana or Belle. Even with the shift toward less rigid gender norms, there’s still plenty push back against little boys playing with feminine toys.
But times are a-changin’.
Photographer Kitty Wolf is making sure boys get their day to play princess too. As the founder of The Boys Can Be Princesses, Too project, Wolf is giving boys the opportunity to have their photos taken with everyone’s favorite ladies.
“I used to do princess parties where I dressed up like a princess character and visited children on their birthday,” explains photographer Kitty Wolf. “Once, I visited a boy who loved Frozen, and he was even dressed just like Elsa. He was over the moon to have a real princess at his party and had a blast the whole time, same as all the girls I’ve done parties for.”
Wolf describes another time she was performing at a preschool when she overheard two young girls chastising a boy classmate for saying he was playing as a princess. “I could see it upset him. I told them we can all be whatever we want to be when we play and they all continued playing nicely. That interaction sat with me for a long time though.” Inspired by the release of Gillette’s controversial commercial taking on masculinity, Wolf decided there was something she could do herself to address boys being princess-shamed.
“As a company, I have a wider audience to send a message—what kind of message do I want to send out there?” Wolf remembered the princess birthday boy as well as the episode with the two young girls “and it hit me, boys as princesses. I have a team of professional princesses, some basic photography skills and sizable Social Media following so I just went for it.”
The results, as you can see, are adorable.
Wolf says the majority of feedback has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” but as with anything that pushes the status quo, she’s received a sizable number of negative comments on her photos. “Unfortunately this project offends a lot of people for a lot of different reasons,” she explains. “I’ve been called all sorts of awful things, been blamed for the eventual downfall of society, received a few threats, and am just generally hated by a lot of people.” She doesn’t let the hate get her down though. “As disheartening as all the hate is, it just shows me how much this project is needed. If people were ok with it, the way they are ok with girls dressing in boys’ clothes, then I wouldn’t need to do this project.”
To date, Wolf has done seven photoshoots with boys dressed as their favorite princesses, complete with actors in character. She says it’s been an amazing success and, despite the detractors, “The comment sections and shares are full of people showing support for these boys and their parents and everyone like them. Some parents are sharing their own pictures of their little princess boys. The most touching comments though are from people saying they wish this project was a thing when they were younger, how they wouldn’t have felt so alone.”
Wolf says she won’t be standing up for freedom of imagination and there’s no endpoint in sight for the project. “The more hate I get, the more it inspires me to keep going. I won’t stop until the hate stops.”
This is how people reacted to this post:
Larry Boynton – Little kids will play at all kinds of things. At 8 I really wanted to be a pirate. Good thing my parents just let me be a kid and didn’t decide it was a serious life choice. These parents are making weird impressions on their children and for most it will pass. Let kids be kids and don’t try and force any gender or career choices at these young ages.
Sarah Coatney – If my child is happy then im happy simple as that no need for all the drama about it my daughter plays with trucks and cars you gonna tell me she cant play with those now ? Like honestly who cares let them be kids. Worry about your own children not someone elses the choice another parent makes for their kids has nothing to do with anyone but them
Doug Hickman – Loved my Barbie princess dress growing up!! No kidding, my parents have a picture of myself and a friend (boy) in dresses, me in my Barbie dress.
They’ve had it up in the house since i was a young kid, well over 20 years. I had a wonderful upbringing, one that few people could compare. No one encouraged me to be anything but me. I love Jesus, I understand the conflicts here. But I just don’t see any weight in this being a negative thing unless you’re encouraging your young child to be another gender.
Kar Roby – Yes boys and girls can be anything they wish. It’s not ok to put a male child in a pageant that is designed for children that ARE born female. Other pageants can be created to include all genders.
Deborah Schnyder – My granddaughter use to pretend she was a dog. She’s not. What is wrong with these parents. Children have enough stuff to deal with growing up why put more on them. This is sad.
Sara Gonzalez – I’m sorry if I had a son he won’t be playing no princess that’s why they have Prince he could play a prince but he ain’t going to be playing no girl stuff princess I don’t think so he’s going to be what he is a boy and grow up to be a man
This Article Was First Published on parents.com