Wear What You Want: Pushing Back Against Restrictive “Norms”

This week we shared a number of potent stories about children getting to choose what they wear even though they face serious social pressure NOT to wear their preferred garments.

These books provide a springboard from which to talk about self expression, gender norms, social pressure, teasing, and bullying. We can help open the door wider to allow freer, easier access for all people despite the oppressive forces at hand. We can remind children that girls and women’s value is much more than our appearances and that boys and men can choose to be fancy or pretty while still being fully male. 

We invited children to make their own paper dolls and dress each person however they like. We talked about the things each child likes to do, eat and wear. We noted these things about us–our favorite activities, foods, colors– remain the same despite what outfit we decide to don or what we look like on the exterior.

We noticed which characters in each story helped to back characters who dared to step outside of their prescribed lane.  And we talked a bit about using our voices to speak out against teasing. 

Recommended Children’s Picture Books Pushing Back Against Restrictive Gender Dress Norms:
  • Annie’s Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids and Rachael Balsaitis
  • Dress Like A Girl by Patricia Toht and Lorian Tu-Dean
  • I Love My Purse by Belle Demont and Sonja Wimmer
  • Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldachhino and Isabela Melaenfant
  • Pink Is For Boys by Robb Pearlman and Eda Kaban

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