I don’t know why people seem to care about what other people wear–especially when it comes to what kids want to wear. Being a kid is all about discovery and self-growth–not just falling into a pre-determined box. Sadly, this is what happened when Jen Anderson Shattuck’s son wore a tutu and a strange man came up to him.
Shattuck aired her frustrations on Facebook to explain why she was not only angry for a stranger talking to her 3-year-old son Roo inappropriately, but also because there’s no freaking thing wrong with boys wearing a tutu:
“Yesterday, on our walk to the park, my son and I were accosted by someone who demanded to know why my son was wearing a skirt. We didn’t know him, but he appeared to have been watching us for some time.
“I’m just curious,” the man said. “Why do you keep doing this to your son?”
He wasn’t curious. He didn’t want answers. He wanted to make sure we both knew that what my son was doing—what I was ALLOWING him to do—was wrong.
“She shouldn’t keep doing this to you,” he said. He spoke directly to my son. “You’re a boy. She’s a bad mommy. It’s child abuse.”
He took pictures of us, although I asked him not to; he threatened me. “Now everyone will know,” he said. “You’ll see.”
I called the police. They came, they took their report, they complimented the skirt. Still, my son does not feel safe today. He wants to know: “Is the man coming back? The bad man? Is he going to shout more unkind things about my skirt? Is he going to take more pictures?”
I can’t say for sure. But I can say this: I will not be intimidated. I will not be made to feel vulnerable or afraid. I will not let angry strangers tell my son what he can or cannot wear.
The world may not love my son for who he is, but I do. I was put on this earth to make sure he knows it.
I will shout my love from street corners.”
As of now, the post has has 43,000 shares and 45,000 reactions–which illustrates just how many people have gone through similar situations like this. She told Cosmopolitan why she wrote about it:
“I had absolutely no idea the post would go viral, nor was it my intention to write a viral post. The man who accosted us told me ‘everyone will know,’ and I thought everyone SHOULD know — know what had happened and also know the strength of my love for my son.
The tutus make him feel beautiful and brave.”
In the past, Shattuck and her wife had talked to Roo about why people may not react as kindly to his love of tutus:
“[We] told Roo that there used to be strict rules about what boys could wear … and that some people think it’s odd that our family doesn’t make him follow those rules.”
Despite the terrible event that caused the Facebook post to begin with, Shattuck is grateful for the outpouring of love that has happened since, as she mentioned getting messaged from people thanking her:
“Particularly touching are the ones from members of the LGBTQ community — especially from people who were ‘gender non-conforming’ kids whose parents did not support them. Every time I read the words ‘I wish I’d had a mom like you,’ I cry.”
We’re glad moms like her exist. Read the rest of her post below: