FAMILY & PARENTING

‘Boys Can Be Princesses, Too’ Photography Project Empowers Boys To Get Glam If They Want To

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

So many times, gender reveal parties question whether or not the mom-to-be is having a “pretty princess” or a “future football star.” Even before knowing if the baby is going to be a boy or a girl, they’re immediately placed into a category.

It’s a little ridiculous to shove expectations on an unborn baby, even if it’s all in the name of fun. Sure, boys and girls may have a lot of varying interests. But at the heart of it, they’re not as different as you might assume.

The Boys Can Be Princesses, Too Project is proof. The photo series shows that some young men want the chance to dress up as their favorite Disney heroine. And the photos don’t look foolish — they look stunning. Started by Kitty Wolf Photography, the project shows that boys shouldn’t be talked out of dressing the way they want.

Gowns can be glorious, and it’s a shame that they’re more or less geared toward only women.

If we can applaud the fact that girls are willing to join the football team (which is incredible), it’d be crazy not to celebrate young men who are trying to prove that dresses can be for everyone.

“By putting more pictures of boys as princesses out into the world, we show everyone that it’s ok to play as whoever you want, even if it’s a boy in a ballgown,” the project’s Facebook group states. It’s true. If the concept is something that seems scary or strange for some reason, photos will only help normalize it.

And yes, it should be normalized. A boy wearing a dress isn’t the end of the world. It’s not hurting anyone — instead, it’s showing young men that they can feel free to wear whatever they want and feel accepted in the world. The Disney princesses may be all women (for now, at least), but they bring joy to children everywhere.

As far as Disney is concerned, it’s done a good job with not marketing things specifically for boys or girls. Both sexes can appreciate movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. The Pixar film Cars might appeal more to young boys, but you can’t expect young girls to hate it or walk out of the theater due to disinterest. In short, it’s for everyone.

The ballgowns are universally appealing, whether or not we choose to talk about it out loud. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, dress chain Alfred Angelo stocked a Disney bridal selection that mirrored dresses featured in Disney movies. That’s a telling sign that even brides in their 20s and 30s wanted to emulate these iconic characters on their big day.

The project isn’t only important for children. It’s also important for their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a world where parents may frown upon their young boys wearing dresses, just because they worry that other  parents might comment negatively. Yes, bullying and peer pressure can sometimes continue into adulthood.

A project like this normalizes the fact that young boys are often curious about dresses. A boy who looks up to a Disney princess is simply a boy who is looking up to a strong female figure. If we try to shame them, we might be giving the message that women shouldn’t be copied or idolized.

It’s hard to think about all of the bad in the world today. There are people going without food, and senseless violence is happening all over the planet. Wildfires are currently destroying critical parts of Australia. A boy who happily wears a dress should be the least of everyone’s concerns.

According to its Facebook page, the Boys Can Be Princesses, Too Project launched in April 2019. It currently has over 10,000 followers, and that number grows daily. The project continues to grow through donations as well as merchandise sales.

The photos may be unlike those you’ve ever seen before. But in time, hopefully you won’t even blink an eye. If you’re a mom who has a son who’s shown interest in dresses and princesses, this project will make you realize that you’re not alone. Boys all over the world are interested but often don’t have the voice to announce it.

Not all boys have an interest in dressing up. Not all girls do, either. But by making the point that interests shouldn’t be gendered, you’re helping end the stigma. Plenty of girls who ultimately identify as straight and cisgender have a healthy interest in sports of all kind, from playing them to watching the big game on Sunday night. Boys who also fall under this category may not.

And that is OK. The goal here is for parents to understand their child’s unique interests and help them explore them. Hobbies can easily come and go, but by forbidding a boy to dress up, you’re telling him that it’s wrong and unhealthy to do so. Admittedly, if you’ve been raised to believe that boys wearing clothes designed for girls is wrong, it may be hard for you to adjust.

But it’s important to know that times have changed. Instead of feeling that it’s socially incorrect, people are now putting happiness first. Why say no to something harmless when it makes a child happy? And even better, it’ll help children stay open-minded, reminding them that fashion can be a great way to express themselves.

The founder of the project, Kitty, realized the importance of this work during her own time as a children’s performer. “During my time as a princess performer, company owner, and preschool assistant, I have seen boys being told that princesses are ‘just for girls’ or that liking princesses and especially dressing as one somehow makes them weak, inferior or not boys. They’re told it’s not manly, or macho, or normal. This leads boys to feel ashamed of their interests, confused, sad, and lonely,” she wrote

“Putting on a princess dress doesn’t make a boy a girl anymore than putting on a shell makes them a real ninja turtle. When I say ‘can be a princess,’ I mean they can be a princess when they play the same way they can be a superhero when they play, even though neither is literally possible by definition. I simply feel that a child’s imagination should not be limited by their gender,” she added. Hopefully, parents will realize that they shouldn’t have hang-ups when it comes to gowns. Boys can, and should, be princesses if they want to be.