She launched her 'The Boys Can Be Princesses Too Project' to shatter gender stereotypes
Photographer Kitty Wolf opines that anyone and everyone should be able to enjoy the magic, beauty, and empowerment of a fairy tale princess. However, she realized that this wasn't always the case while running her party and entertainment company, Princesscapades Princess Parties, where she saw boys being discouraged to pursue their interest in princesses. "I have seen boys being told that princesses are "just for girls" or those 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 on her website.
Wanting to shatter this gender stereotype, Wolf decided to spread awareness on the subject in the most beautiful way. She launched her The Boys Can Be Princesses Too Project: a series of photos of little boys dressed as their favorite princesses posing with their favorite princesses. "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," Wolf explained.
"Our goal here is to show these boys and the world that it is perfectly acceptable for boys to admire and even dress like princesses. I want to show them it's ok for boys to dress up as their heroes, even if that means they're twirling around in a ball gown. Overall, I want everyone to see it's ok to be who you are and like what you like," she added. So far, Wolf has done 7 photoshoots with 9 princesses, including one with a set of brothers. "The photos highlight the pure happiness and joy the boys feel when wearing a dress and serve as a reminder that our own hang-ups, assumptions, and judgments should never get in the way of a child's innocent enjoyment and imaginative fun," the website states.
Speaking to Romper, Wolf revealed that the inspiration for the project came from an incident that occurred during a shoot with a preschool-aged boy. The young boy was pretending to be a princess when a little girl told him he couldn't do that and that "princesses are for girls." It was then that Wolf decided to challenge this misconception and remind people that "princesses are for everyone." The photographs from The Boys Can Be Princesses Too Project quickly went viral on social media after she posted them on Facebook with several parents joining to share photos of their own boys dressed as their favorite heroines in the comments section.
"I absolutely did not expect it to be so viral!" Wolf told Scary Mommy. "I really just thought it’d be a cute little photo series I’d did on the side for fun but it’s grown into something HUGE (and wonderful!). I posted it on the Facebook page, shared it to a handful of groups that I’m in, and it just blew up from there!" Addressing those who don't agree with the idea of boys dressing up as princesses, Wolf wrote: "That’s ok! I know not everyone is going to agree or support this project. You absolutely have the right to your own opinion. However, please read through everything on the site before passing (and posting) judgment, as many people seem to misunderstand this project and its intentions."
"This project is about letting go of gender stereotypes so we can let kids play however they want. To not stifle their imagination, creativity, or fun just because of society's gender norms. We're doing a great job empowering girls (letting them play as beloved male characters, enjoy what others consider 'boy' things, etc) now let's empower boys too. Granted I know it can be uncomfortable, annoying, angering, or even scary when such views are called into question. I don't blame you. It's been that way for so long, it's hard to think of it any other way. It's honestly normal to feel defensive about it. But I urge you to stop for a minute and think, really think about this project and this message," she continued.
"This project might not change anyone's mind, but I'm hoping it at least gets people thinking, questioning, and talking about issues such as gender roles in children's playtime. Like the quote from Cinderella: 'Just because it's what's done doesn't mean it's what should be done.' Meaning just because that's the way it's always been, doesn't mean it's the way it always should be. Something to think about!" You can donate to this incredible project — which Wolf does at her own cost — here.