by MARY WARD
Generally, fathers only don a skirt to complete a towel-clad dash for the morning paper (was that just mine?).
Or make a point about their Scottish heritage. But this dad is wearing one for a different reason. And it’s making him a bit of a hero.
German dad, Nils Pickert, has started wearing a skirt to help his son feel comfortable with his own wardrobe choices.
His son likes wearing dresses, a lifestyle choice that rose more than a few eyebrows after the family moved from West Berlin to a small, conservative town. After Nils found out his son was feeling uncomfortable wearing his favourite dresses to his new pre-school, he took matters into his own hands, deciding to lead by example and show his son that you can take charge of a situation without wearing the pants.
Nils told German feminist magazine, EMMA:
I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts. I had only one option left: to broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.
It certainly worked.
His son is now happier than he’s ever been: “He’s simply smiling. When other boys (and it’s nearly always boys) want to make fun of him he says: ‘You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.”
Nils is a legend, both on a parental level, and in terms of colour coordination. (Seriously! Check that crimson-matching! Did he use a paint swatch?) But he says he’s just “part of the minority that make a fool of themselves from time to time, out of conviction.” I’m prepared to say that the minority Nils is speaking about has a very high concentration of fathers.
My dad – with his three daughters – has had to don a skirt many times. Hours spent playing with Barbie’s picnic van (which came with a little milkshake maker, so macho), endless dance eisteddfods and The Hannah Montana Movie have each formed important pleats in his fatherly kilt.
But it’s not just the girlie stuff that my dad has had to feel the breeze between his legs for. A couple of wobbly (very wobbly) trips around our local ice rink, a feigned interest in/understanding of the sport of Teeball and even an unabashed photo session of us in front of one of the My Restaurant Rules eateries (it was 2005, okay, and I was a little fanatical) are all times that will be remembered. Not because they were necessarily successful ventures, or the start of any great family tradition, but because they were times when the pull of three little pleading faces made my dad throw his inhibitive pants out the window and put on a skirt, for everyone to see.
Years from now, Nils’ son might have given up the dresses. But I don’t think that Nils would have given up the skirt. Because he knows, just like my dad, that wearing a fatherly kilt is an important job. And, one day, his son will thank him for it.
Mary is an intern at Mamamia, and a first year Media and Communications student from Sydney. She can do the splits, wiggle her ears and tell you who won Eurovision in 1973. You can follow her on Twitter here.