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Gender roles place limitations on children

"Boy and Girl" by Hagerty Ryan (CC BY-SA)

"Boy and Girl" by Hagerty Ryan (CC BY-SA)

Children are forced into gender roles at an early age. There are certain expectations that come with being either gender, expectations that often influence the decisions a young person, whose mind is still developing, makes. Such expectations, which have been set by society, can greatly affect the self-esteem of a child and place limitations on them.

The notion that a girl must be one way and a boy must be another is old-fashioned yet, in 2018, we still see these beliefs imposed upon our youth. Even though one may think something as small as a child’s choice in a costume or toy is trivial, it holds a significant amount of meaning.

I can vividly recall being at the Halloween store last fall, watching an interaction between a mother and her daughter. A Captain America costume caught the girl’s attention, though her mother suggested an ensemble that was pink and full of frills instead. Seeing this play out in front of my very eyes hurt, especially because I once thought progress regarding this issue had been made.

Even today, as I walked through the aisles of Toys “R” Us, I was reminded of how there is still work to be done. Products were labeled as “girls’ craft kits” or “boys’ action figures,” as if they cannot possibly appeal to both genders. There certainly are boys who are far more interested in crafts than I am, and I happen to be an avid collector of action figures, comic books, and all things typically considered boyish.

How can some believe our gender determines our interests? After reading those labels, children may begin to feel insecure about their likings and push them aside, in favor of going with the status quo. These labels can also lead to the fear of bullying, which could give children even more of an incentive to abandon what makes them happy.

If a girl wants to be a superhero, let her be a superhero. If a boy wants to wear pink and make jewelry, let him wear pink and make jewelry.

The foundation is set early on. Children must not be placed in a box and told that one path is the right path. That mindset will stick with them as they grow into adulthood. They should be able to explore and encouraged to pursue their interests, regardless of what is deemed “normal.”

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Gender roles place limitations on children