'I realized people talk to her completely differently when they think she's a girl vs. when they think she's a boy,' the Miss Universe 2016 contestant explained.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 2, 2021. It has since been updated.
A few months into motherhood, former Miss Universe Canada Siera Bearchell made an astute observation about how people interact with her baby. She realized that strangers talk to her daughter, Lily, totally differently depending on whether they think she's a boy or a girl. Taking to TikTok, Bearchell explained that there are clear differences in what folks say to the toddler depending on what the young girl is wearing at that time. In the video, which has been viewed over 9.2 million times, the Miss Universe 2016 contestant shared that when people assume Lily is a boy, they mostly comment on her strength and capabilities and that as soon as she's dressed in anything pink or a dress, they compliment her looks.
"I have to tell you something that one I realized it, blew my mind," Bearchell began. "My daughter is in the backseat, sleeping, wearing 'Lion King' PJs. And naturally, people always think she's a boy when she's wearing something like that. Or when she's wearing neutral colors. Basically when she's not wearing pink or a dress." The mom clarified that she does not care about people mistaking her daughter for a boy. "What I care about is that I realized people talk to her completely differently when they think she's a girl vs. when they think she's a boy."
Bearchell revealed that "99.9% of the time," when strangers think Lily is a girl, they "comment on how pretty she is, her dress, she's so beautiful..." On the other hand, "when they think she's a boy, they will say things like 'Wow, you're so fast! You're so strong. Look at you go,'" she said. She added that this has been going on ever since her daughter's birth. "So before our kids can walk or talk, we are telling them that as girls, the most important things about them and the most important things that people notice is how they look and how they dress," Bearchell pointed out.
Meanwhile, she added, we're also teaching young kids that "as boys, the most important thing about them is their actions and what they do." Bearchell explained that although "there's nothing wrong with commenting on the looks or clothing of little kids and babies because they're always so cute," we also need to comment on "the strength and actions of little girls because they need to know they're more than pretty."
Bearchell's video struck a chord with thousands on social media, many of whom revealed that they'd also noticed the same. "Unreal how early this messaging comes through! My nephew has long hair and the same thing happens in reverse. It truly blows my mind that people always talk about how strong or fast he is unless they confuse him for a girl and then it’s 'she’s so pretty, love her pretty hair.' Truly wild that we are programmed this way. Trying to be more aware myself so I can be part of empowering young girls and not minimizing them to just what they look or dress like," commented Olivia Jordan.
"I have noticed this with my daughter too since she was a baby, wrote Melissa Bozak. "I have become extremely mindful of focusing on the things she does over how she looks. Instead of saying 'your hair looks so pretty like that, I ask her how proud she is that she brushed her own hair today.' Our choice of words are sooooo important and especially when raising girls!"