So, Mom and Dad tell the boys pick one out. Boys start choosing. The middle boy picked out a bright, lime green shirt quite excitedly. When he pulls it off the rack and shows it to Mom she says "Well, that's kind of got a little bit of heart on it." She said it in the same tone you might use to say "Well, that's kind of got a little stain on it." Or "That's kind of got a little rip in in." She put it back in the rack and tells the boy again to choose a shirt.
After riffling through the shirts he picks the same lime green shirt with a blue heart. His mom tells him again "See, that ones got a heart, too," as she puts it back on the rack.
The boy starts flipping through the shirts again. He pulls the lime green heart shirt off the rack a third time. This time the mom's tone was harsher. "No, you can't get that one. Its got a heart on it. See." At this point the brothers start chiming in with their disapproval. "Yeah, that's a girl shirt, Joe." "Yeah, it a heart shirt."
The little boy was standing there looking at it and he looked so torn. Like he liked the shirt, but knew he shouldn't like it and wouldn't be allowed to have it. I told him, "They're really cool colors though, aren't they?!" He nodded and put it back on the rack. At this point his mom picked one out for him. It had lime green on it, too and you could tell he liked it, but you could also tell it wasn't the one he really wanted.
The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. What sort of world is this where hearts, symbols of love and all things good and loving, are only for women and girls. It was a blue heart on a green shirt. It wasn't even lavender or neon pink or any "girl" colors. There was nothing inherently girly about it to my eye. Except, I guess, that hearts are girly. Do we want little boys who have no heart? Or who think they certainly shouldn't express it publicly? Or who think hearts are for sissies? It really rubbed me the wrong way.
I wish I could have just given it to him, but its not like he'd probably have gotten to wear it even if I had.
If you ask me hearts are for everyone. Its not a gendered thing at all. We all have a literal heart that pumps our lifeblood through our bodies and I'd like to think we all have a spiritual, metaphorical heart that pumps a different kind of lifeblood. The lifeblood that is practicing kindness and doing what's right and showing compassion, and feeling the full range of love--romantic, familial, and every way in between. The lifeblood that makes us interdependent beings who care about each other and need each other. The lifeblood that is "having a heart."
To think that the symbolic representation of all that--the heart shape--is limited to girls and women makes me a little sad to consider.
|Photo by my sister, Lisa.|