One would assume that by 2018 people would just let everyone live their best life, especially when it came to kids' haircuts. I mean, if we're going to collectively shame a mother for how she keeps a kid's locks trimmed, let's all focus on those atrocious early '90s cuts our mothers gave us, right? Because they were all pretty wack. Alas, this week, social media is wasting its energy on shaming Megan Fox for her boys' long hair cuts and it's so wrong, on so many levels.
Fox posted a picture of two of her sons, 5-year-old Noah and 4-year-old Bodhi, on Instagram over the weekend. (She also has a 1-year-old named Journey.) The boys are lounging in wetsuits on the beach and both have perfectly tousled beach hair. Fox captioned the photo her two sun-kissed and smiling kids, "Babes." It's the kind of picture that every proud mom posts and expects to get tons of "so cute!" comments and likes for.
However, there were, sadly, a predictable amount of people commenting on the picture that were threatened by the boys' long hair. One person wrote, "Poor darlings they look like they're wearing wigs!" Others went on, insinuating that the mom was "confusing" her boys into thinking that they were girls, rude for making it hard for others to decipher her kids gender, and at the very, very worst, implied that giving her kids long hair was akin to child abuse. But having her kids keep their long hairdos is none of these things.
This is not the first time people have ganged up on Fox for her parenting style. Last summer, paparazzi photos surfaced of her and her boys out and about town. The problem? The boys were wearing dresses. Although that wasn't the first time she talked about her boys donning princess gear, as reported by Self. In 2016, she drew the ire of her haters for telling Jimmy Kimmel that she runs a strictly gender neutral household. The actor said at the time, "The boys can wear dresses. There are no rules — you can be whatever you want to be in my house!"
She explained her reasoning to Media Planet last year. Fox explained:
When I became pregnant with Noah, I could feel, through my mother's intuition I suppose, that he was not subscribing to gender stereotypes, so I decided to provide an environment for him early on that would allow him to discover how he wanted to express himself.
She added, "If a boy loves princesses and a girl loves baseball, that's not indicative of their sexuality," Fox says. It's indicative of their communication and creative expression. We can't limit children by telling them how they should play." Or by what hairstyle they (or their parents) prefer.
Here's the problem with harping on a kid's hairstyle or clothing — it really doesn't matter. You can't "turn a boy into a girl" or vice versa, since you aren't born with a certain gender, according to the American Psychological Association. Gender is something we learn through socialization, which is why it's so exciting that more and more parents are focusing on gender neutral parenting.
Gender dysphoria and gender nonconformity are two different things, according to the APA. Gender dysphoria, which can be experienced as early as 4 years old, according to the APA is when someone "experiences significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender." Gender nonconformity is just when a person doesn't stick to society's strict rules about what boys and girls do.
Neither one of those experiences is a mental illness according to medical experts, as reported by Time. So if a boy likes to wear sparkly, pink tiaras or a girl wants to shave her head, even at 4 years old, things are perfectly fine. We don't know whey Fox's kids style themselves the way they do (although we ever really understand a 4-year-old's taste in fashion?). And even if we did, it shouldn't matter.
In fact, research shows that most problems arise for kids when their parents, teachers, or friends don't accept their gender expression, according to The Family Acceptance Project. Luckily, there were just as many people on Fox's Instagram page standing up for acceptance. One fan wrote, "love that you let your boys be there [sic] own person not what the world thinks they should look like. I have a 8 year and he has long hair. Thank you for being a positive role model."
Hopefully, one day there will be more people who cheer for a cute pic of two boys hanging out on the beach, long hair or not. Until then, Fox and all other parents out there, should just ignore the haters.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.