I don’t know much about American actor and model Jaime King. But I do know outstanding parenting when I see it. And King has just posted a glorious example of it.
My definition of outstanding parenting is any sort of parental behaviour that lets a child know they are loved unconditionally and that they are safe to be themselves. It would seem that King defines it in the same way.
This week, at the premiere of The Incredibles 2, the former Heart of Dixie actress walked the red carpet with her four-year-old son James Knight Newman – and the little boy happened to be wearing a bright pink dress with pink tulle and pink ribbons.
King wrote in the caption, “I love my baby SO MUCH!!! He chose my lipstick and dress,” without even a mention of his clothing. She didn’t explain it. She didn’t defend it.
Because, why should she?
James wore what he wanted to wear. He clung to his mum a tad shyly in the photo – as is understandable for a small child in front of a crowd of photographers. But he was smiling. He also looked happy in a photo with his dad at the same event.
This was not a situation akin to where a mother at my son’s boys-only school made him dress as Mary Poppins for Book Week because she thought it was avant garde, and he cried the whole way through the parade while she wondered why he felt self-conscious.
No. James chose this outfit himself.
But that’s not even the part to celebrate. Because I don’t remotely care what another person’s child is wearing, as long as the child is comfortable.
No, what I’m applauding here is that King let him do it. Without fanfare, without trying to make a statement. The mum let her son be himself – without a fuss.
King’s attitude is perfect parenting, but it’s also indicative of something else: that we are in the midst of a genderless fashion revolution.
Earlier this year, Heather Kaczynski, an American author, tweeted: “PLEASE PUT POCKETS ON GIRLS PANTS. omg. My 3yo is SO ANGRY when she doesn’t have pockets or the pockets are fake. She has THINGS TO HOLD, like rocks and Power Rangers. She’s resorted to putting stuff down her shirt. come on. pockets for girls please.”
Due to online trolling the tweet has since been deleted, but it nevertheless went viral, attracting more than 250 000 likes and 1000 retweets. It resonated worldwide, and is an example of how parents are approaching fashion for their children in 2018.
That’s something which King is also fully aware of. She has been candid about her opinions on the importance of remaining open about children’s fashion choices:
“We have set limitations upon our children and babies, whether that be consciously or subconsciously. Somewhere along the line of ‘dos and don’ts,’ we relegated children into little boxes that are so restrictive,” King previously told People of her inspiration behind her gender-neutral Gardner and the Gang ♥ Jaime King Collection.
“Somehow, the world decided that boys belong in blue and girls belong in pink and anything other than that is weird or strange and in some ways frowned upon — as if allowing a boy to wear purple or hot pink is steering them in the wrong direction," she explained.
“This collection is vastly important because we want any boy that likes our dresses to rock them.”
Little James is not the first child of a celebrity to wear a dress; for example, Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son), has been doing it for years. Once again, it wasn't intended as a "statement" - but simply attire he felt comfortable in.
Realistically, how would I feel if my own son chose to wear a dress? I can honestly say I wouldn't give it a thought. I don't need a big declaration, or explanation - because my son could never offend me with his mere existence. He is wholly accepted by me, whoever he is.
So if he chooses at some stage he's going to wear a bit more material than some men, he's going to have to work harder to get a reaction from me.