Imagine my surprise and delight to be presented on Christmas Day with a lovely and unique gift: a photograph of President Barack Obama wearing a tiara, surrounded by similarly crowned Girl Scouts. The photo had been taken by the official White House photographer, Pete Souza. POTUS had defied his self-professed rule to “not put stuff on your head if you’re president,” and I could not be more impressed.

Of course, the haters were hating. I briefly looked over the outraged online rants in response to the photo. They were generally homophobic in nature.

Here at Fairyland, we sell four different types of tiaras, and we sell many of them to boys. We often welcome young men who are wearing tutus, and, being who we are, we encourage all forms of imagination-driven play. Members of the Fairyland staff recently attended a training session about young children and gender presented by First 5 Alameda County. One of the takeaways was that a child’s biology, gender expression and gender identity are three separate things, and sexual orientation is a fourth. For example, you may have a child who is biologically female, prefers to dress in traditionally “boy clothes,” but identifies as a girl.

We’re lucky to live in a community that really does encourage kids to be who they are. Fairyland will use the information we learned to make our camp registration forms more inclusive of “gender expansiveness,” and to ensure that there will never be a “pink aisle” in our gift shop.

A few years ago, I met Cheryl Kilodavis, an African-American mom from Seattle who had just written a wonderful children’s picture book called “My Princess Boy.” It tells the story of a boy—the character is based on Cheryl’s son Dyson, who was then 5—who wears dresses and tiaras and whose authenticity is celebrated by his family. Cheryl self-published the book, but after exposure on CNN, Ellen and the Today show, Simon and Schuster picked it up, sales have been strong, and the book’s Facebook page has over 15,000 followers. Cheryl has subsequently created an acceptance curriculum for pre-K through fifth grade, and now is a popular lecturer on the subject.

What does Dyson think of the president of the United States photographed wearing a tiara? “I want our president to know that love is peace, love is hope. And love is best with a tiara on!” he says.

My princess boy with tiaraI have to point out the context in which the photo was taken. Girl Scout Troop 2612, of Tulsa, OK, had participated in the annual White House Science Fair, which focused on girls and women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) who are inspiring the next generation of scientists. The troop had exhibited a flood-proof bridge project made of Lego bricks.

My president is taking bold stands on immigration reform, international environmental protections and the normalization of our relationship with Cuba. Tough stuff. I bet this father of two daughters is comfortable enough in his own skin to have allowed his fingernails to be polished and to have enjoyed cups of imaginary tea served lovingly from tiny cups. I hear he plays basketball, too.

A line in Cheryl’s book simply states: “Our princess boy is happy because we love him for who he is.”

I hope my princess president is happy, too, because I respect him more since he decided to publicly and proudly show his solidarity with a group of future female scientists.

And guess what? Fairyland carries the same tiara that the president was wearing. It’s only $4.50. So drop by, all you East Bay dads, and join us in making the statement that real power—the ability to get things done—can easily be accompanied by a bejeweled pink accessory.

For information on Cheryl’s book about acceptance, go to MyPrincessBoy.com.

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