5-year-old Cian loves wearing dresses.
5-year-old Cian Kells loves dresses. And why not? They’re breezy, comfortable and attractive to look at. The issue is, modern-day society stigmatizes those who don’t adhere to gender norms. Because Cian is a boy — and boys are taught to wear darker colors, play with “manly” toys and hide their emotions — he is already the target of criticism.
Distraught by this reality but overjoyed that her son feels free enough to express himself, Crystal Kells started photographing Cian in his favorite attire — dresses. She told Metro that every day, Cian gets to choose what he wears, and that “99% of the time, he will choose wearing a dress over a shirt and pants/shorts.”
“His favorite thing about them is the twirl,” she said. “He always has a choice of what to wear. I of course support his choices with love and respect. I was raised very liberally, so when he expressed an interest in wearing dresses, I thought, why not?”
After taking photos of Cian in dresses for years, Crystal started a blog to challenge gender stereotypes. She said,
“I wrote a blog about my son and shared some pictures of him with hopes to inspire people. To inspire people to love themselves and their children just as they are.”
“I’m all for equality among the sexes,” she added. “If little girls can be celebrated for being and doing things like a boy, why can’t a boy be celebrated for embracing things that are feminine?”
Though Cian is allowed to wear whatever he wants, he is encouraged to dress appropriately for certain activities. If he’s going go-karting, for instance, pants are more practical so that’s what he will wear. She does reinforce the idea of allowing him to dress himself, however.
Cian’s freedom of expression has taught Crystal a lot, too.
“He has inspired me to love myself, to have confidence when I didn’t have much before. He has taught me to love more and judge less. I wanted to share all of that with other people,” she said.
Crystal hopes her photo series inspires other parents to rethink gender-specific clothing and to cultivate more compassion toward children who desire to wear attire not in alignment with the “norm.” You can check out more of Crystal’s work on her website and Facebook page.
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