Dad Adopts Bold New Wardrobe To Help His Young Son’s Self-Esteem

Though owning your own quirks and flaws is never easy, encouraging kids to accept their differences at an early age can do wonders for them as they grow up. Whether kids like to mismatch their clothes or develop a bizarre interest in trading cards, they just want to be accepted.

When father Scott Stuart initially observed his young son’s latest interest, he worried what the world would think of both him and his warmhearted son, Colin. But the more Scott thought on it, the more he understood what Colin really needed from his father.

Australian dad Scott Stuart just wanted to raise his son to be the best man he could be, even if it meant marching to the beat of his own offbeat drum. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.

@scottcreates / Instagram

When Scott’s son, Colin, was just three years old, he fell in love with Disney’s 2013 hit film Frozen. But when Scott realized Colin developed a unique fondness for a particular character, he couldn’t help but feel a bit surprised.

Scott Stuart

See, little Colin was just infatuated with Queen Elsa, and who isn’t? Her character is essentially the template for a powerful woman with strong family values! But Colin’s obsession with the Queen of Arendale could be seen as unconventional for a little boy.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Though it came as a slight surprise, Scott, who writes children’s books and does graphic design at a children’s hospital, wasn’t completely shocked. His son always favored princesses and queens over “traditionally-male characters” (though he still loved Batman and Spiderman). It was just who he was!

@scottcreates / Instagram

“He loved everything about her, and of course, wanted every toy and costume available. He had an Elsa doll that he was so proud of,” Scott explained of Colin’s undying admiration.

Nicole Craine / The New York Times

“He would take it everywhere and show it to everyone,” he continued. But Scott’s feelings wavered when Colin began dressing up as Elsa. Owning a doll and dressing like a doll were two different things in Scott’s mind.

@scottcreates / Instagram

“When he first fell in love with Elsa and wanted to dress up as her, I would feel so judged walking down the street next to him, and I projected that onto thinking he was judged,” Scott admitted to BuzzFeed.

Scott Stuart

We’re sure Scott didn’t feel too good admitting that, but his thinking instantaneously changed after an incident at Colin’s preschool. “One day he came home from preschool completely distraught because someone said that Elsa was for girls,” he relayed.

Scott Stuart

“That day I resolved that I would always support the things that he loves, even if they challenged my — or society’s — expectations of him,” Scott continued, as he was able to let it go. But society had already broken Colin’s confidence to be himself.

@scottcreates / Instagram

It was disheartening for Scott to see his son, who was six years old as of 2020, hesitate to cosplay as Elsa at a movie theater showing of Frozen 2; the poor little guy feared he’d be made fun of for donning Elsa’s blue gown. Scott’s heart broke in two.

Pediatric Interactions

Rather than just recite hackneyed phrases like “just be yourself,” or “haters gonna hate,” Scott figured actions speak louder than words. The nurturing father decided to prove he accepted his son no matter what by also dressing up in a head-turning outfit.

myshadowispink

In a TikTok video that had the whole internet crying tears of joy, Scott wore a man-sized Elsa dress paired with a long blonde wig, matching little Colin. The video went viral, spawning many more Snow Queen-inspired TikTok posts from the father-son duo.

Scott Stuart / People

“I have a super simple rule as a father: if my son wants to do something outside a gender ‘norm,’ I’ll do it too so he sees its totally OK to be both a man AND wear a dress,” Scott, who sometimes dons chipped nail polish applied by his son, wrote on Instagram.

@scottcreates / Instagram

Not only is Colin an example to little kids who may feel apprehensive embracing their “unorthodox” interests, but he’s an example to his father. “What makes me the proudest? He is completely and unashamedly himself. I wish I had that as a kid,” said Scott. Colin is even learning how to apply makeup!

@scottcreates / Instagram

In fact, Scott looked up to Colin’s unapologetic self-expression so much that it inspired him to write a children’s book about gender roles and empowerment, which he titled My Shadow is Pink.

@scottcreates / Instagram

The book follows the adventures of a boy who struggles to accept his unique identity. “It’s about a boy who has a pink shadow that likes princess, fairies & ‘things not for boys’… but he wishes he had a blue shadow like everyone else in his family,” Scott wrote on Instagram.

@scottcreates / Instagram

“He learns that everyone has a shadow they wish, at times, was something else… and he has to learn to love and accept his shadow as it is,” Scott continued. My Shadow is Pink will be released through Larrikin House on August 1, 2020.

Larrikin House

We know that Colin’s own “pink shadow” is a metaphor for his love of Frozen‘s Elsa, and Scott accepts that perfect, beautiful shadow wholeheartedly. He’s a proud father and hopes that both parents and children can learn from their wholesome TikTok videos.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

“I would hope people could look at this video and see a child having the courage to be themselves, and know that if they have to courage to do the same, there will be someone who will stand with them too,” he said of his viral TikTok. We hope that as well.

@scottcreates / Instagram

While little Colin Stuart wore a bright blue dress to resemble his ice-controlling idol, other children dress outside of what is considered a “gender norm” for reasons that aren’t as obvious to their parents. Sometimes you just have to let your child lead the way.

Danielle Carver Folkner

Jen and her wife Audra got married in 2008 and became parents in 2013, when Jen gave birth to a beautiful baby. Roo was instantly born into a loving and accepting family with two strong, kind moms. What more could one wish for?

Roo was a happy kid who liked to do jigsaw puzzles, play with cars, do crafts, and who loved being outside and playing in the park or on the beach. At the age of three, Roo began to behave in a way that raised a few eyebrows.

On August 24th, 2016, Jen spent a lovely summer day with Roo at the park in their hometown, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Jen allowed Roo to pick an outfit, so the young child dawned a t-shirt, sneakers — and a tutu.

Suddenly, an angry-looking man appeared. He yelled at the mother and child, even addressing Roo directly without Jen’s permission. “She shouldn’t keep doing this to you,” he said. “You’re a boy. She’s a bad mommy. This is child abuse.”

Nobody knew at the time that Roo might be a girl. She was assigned male at birth, had short hair, and peed standing up, but she also loved wearing tutus. When she became 5 and a half years old, she began saying. “I think I’m a girl, I’m actually a girl!”

No surgery or hormones were involved, but Roo’s moms did accept their child as a girl, if that’s what she felt like she was. The man at the park had yelled a child for wearing what she felt most comfortable in.

Flickr

Jen detailed her encounter at the park on Facebook, and it created a trending hashtag: #TutusForRoo. Many people of different genders showed off their best tutu pics to stand with little Roo.

But Roo’s decision to don a tutu was not unique to her: Dyson Kilodavis loved dressing up as a princess but was often bullied for it. When his mother asked him about why he still wanted to wear the skirts and dresses, he claimed: “I’m a princess boy!”

Inspired by her son’s enthusiasm and bravery, Cheryl Kilodavis sought the help of illustrator Suzanne DeSimone and self-published a children’s book about kids who don’t quite conform to society’s standards.

Roo and Dyson are not the only young kids who rock a good tutu. Six-year-old Kaige loves sharks, Bill Nye the Science Guy, swimming — and pink fluffy things. Kaige told his mom Dawn “he just liked playing princesses and ninjas and didn’t want to be made fun of and that girls are allowed to do boy things, too,” she said. “He said it’s not fair.”

Dawn and her husband gave Kaige the freedom to express himself however he wanted. He proudly wore his tutu, but he also liked wearing dress shirts and ties to school, as well as a purple Mohawk. Look at this little punk! Stories like those of Kaige, Roo, and Dyson are plentiful…

Issak Wolfe was assigned female at birth and used to be known to his friends and family as Sierra Stambaugh. As a teen, he realized he identified as male. Things were tough during his senior year of high school because not everyone accepted him for who he was.

He was originally nominated as prom queen, but fought hard to be considered for the title of prom king instead. He also asked to have his new name read at graduation, rather than his dead-name. In both instances, his persistence paid off. He was called Issak.

Meanwhile, 7-year-old Bobby Montoya had presented female traits from a very young age. She played with Barbie dolls, wore her hair long, and often wore androgynous or feminine clothing. Still, she was denied what she wanted more than anything.

Bobby desperately wanted to join the Girl Scouts but was initially rejected because she still had “boy parts.” Bobby’s mom called the Girl Scout headquarters, and the organization apologized. Bobby was welcomed with open arms to sell cookies and collect badges.

There was another little girl who had an even bigger wish than Bobby did. This Canadian child came out as transgender to her parents at eight years old, and began to fight for the identity of female when she was only 10. With the help of her grandma, she wrote to the government asking to change her identity on her birth certificate.

The kid once known as Declan Cunningham became Harriette. “When a baby is born,” she said, “you don’t know if it will be male, female, intersex, transgender or gender-fluid. Gender is more than what’s between your legs.”

When people “pass” as their self-identified gender — meaning people can’t tell they’re trans by looking at them — they are more easily validated. Lila Perry did not pass, as she came out after puberty and wasn’t on hormone therapy. Still, the 17-year old wore skirts, makeup, and long wigs to school.

Lila felt uncomfortable and out of place in the men’s restroom and locker room, but wasn’t allowed to use the girls’. Some students and their parents protested her sing the girls’ facilities (even though Lila was not even attracted to women). Other people had her back, but she still dropped gym and tried switching schools altogether.

Last but not least is the famous story of Jazz Jennings. At only 13 years old, Jazz became an advocate for transgender children when she wrote a book titled I Am Jazz, which chronicled her own journey towards being accepted as a girl. But she and her family weren’t quite done yet.

Jazz’s parents and siblings helped her set up the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation to support other transgender youth. Later, she founded the company Purple Rainbow Tails, which made mermaid tails for genderqueer kids to raise money.

As of 2018, Jazz was working on a transgender doll to be sold in stores, and constantly met with other queer youth to help them in their battles in any way she can.

The minute a child is born, there are already many expectations weighing on its shoulders. When they don’t meet those expectations, we must accept and love them for the way they are. In other words, if a child wants to wear a tutu, let them wear a tutu!

While fighting for your child’s right to be themselves and to be accepted is definitely a noble cause, it is far from being won. Genderqueer people of all ages face discrimination and bigotry. Unfortunately, a child named Kai encountered the same issues as Roo did.

In December of 2010, Kimberly Shappley gave birth to a beautiful baby. Kim and her husband were overjoyed, but they soon realized this child was nothing like their five other offspring. It all started when the kid learned how to walk and talk…

The child, whose middle name was Kai, preferred playing with dolls and dressing up in costumes over racing cars or playing sports like Shappley’s other sons did. It left Kai a bit isolated, which worried Kimberly.

Then, Kai began stretching T-shirts to make dresses from them, begging to grow long hair, and declaring that boys were “gross.” Kimberly, who worked as a nurse, recalled family members inquiring if Kai could be gay.

Eventually, someone introduced another idea to Kim: Kai could be a transgender girl. “A friend of mine, who’s a child psychologist, pointed out that Kai had very feminine behavior,” Kimberly said.

However, the Texas-based mom wasn’t ready to hear it at that time and brushed it away, saying he’d grow out of it. But in December of 2013, around Kai’s third birthday, they exclaimed, “I’m a girl.”

At this point, Kimberly felt torn between her beliefs and the happiness of her child. “I come from a conservative religious background,” she said, “and although I’d heard about people being transgender, it wasn’t something I really agreed with.”

In the hopes of suppressing Kai’s feminine identity, Kim started encouraging them to be more boyish. She gave Kai a short hairdo and camo tees, signed them up for sports, and made them play with their brothers. None of it worked.

“Every time he said, ‘I’m a girl,’ or ‘I’m a princess,’ I would look at him and say, ‘No, you’re a boy,’” she recalled. And while Kai didn’t become less feminine, they did become less happy, as they now struggled with tantrums, bedwetting, and withdrawal.

But the mom of six’s attitude changed in November of 2014 when she tucked Kai into bed and noticed that they were wearing a pair of pink underwear so tiny it stopped the blood circulating to their legs.

That was the moment when Kimberly realized that Kai “was desperately trying to tell me who he was, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.” Wanting to do right by her child, she began reaching out to other mothers who had been through the same.

Reaching out to other moms of genderqueer kids was both a blessing and a curse. She learned that many trans people suffer from depression and often commit suicide — a thought that terrified Kimberly to her core.

Afraid that the same would happen to Kai, she knew that her only real option was to accept Kai for who they — or rather who she — was. It was time to let go of her son and embrace her daughter.

So, Kim began supporting Kai’s transition from male to female by buying her girls’ panties, followed by tees and legwear. The Shappleys’ older children “weren’t fazed at all,” she said, and the family “started using ‘she’ instead of ‘him.’”

Sadly, not everyone in The Shappleys’ community was on board with Kimberly’s decision to stand by her daughter. “Some accused me of being a bad parent, but Kai was so much happier, I knew I was doing the right thing,” Kim said.

Most shockingly, the superintendent of Kai’s school compared bathroom use by transgender students to pedophilia and perverseness. “That’s when the mamma bear in me came out, and an active political role became a necessity,” Kim fumed.

Astounded by the school’s reaction, Kim spoke at school board meetings. “As a Christian mom to a transgender kid, I couldn’t stand by and let this far right, ultra-conservative, Christian man use my faith to hurt my daughter,” she said.

Despite Kimberly’s pleas, the school refused to adjust. They insisted on calling Kai by her dead name and didn’t allow her to use the little girls’ room. Kai quickly went from loving school to coming home crying every day.

Eventually, the Shappleys had seen enough of their small town’s discriminatory ways, and they packed up and moved to Austin, Texas. While still in a conservative state, Austin is a much more liberal city with a larger queer community.

On the first day of school, the protective mom saw a sign that led her to believe that she had made the right choice. She recalled, “I noticed a rainbow poster stating, ‘We’re an LGBT affirming school district.’”

With that, Kai settled into her new school and started coming home with “normal childhood issues.” But Kimberly’s fight wasn’t over, as she realized that people of her faith were not as willing to listen or understand LGBT issues.

That’s why Kim continued speaking at suicide-prevention events, universities, Houston Pride in 2017, and family-centric conferences. She was also open to consulting with therapists, other LGBT moms, and her friends.

“Everything that resulted from our story being told made one thing very clear – we needed to keep telling it. We had to keep fighting for acceptance and equality,” Kimberly said. Still, it was exhausting for her.

Nevertheless, Kim persisted. “This is my daughter’s future. So, even though I keep telling myself, ‘after this fight is won I’ll go back to nursing, I’ll go back to my normal life,’ I can’t. Because this fight is in jeopardy,” the new LGBT advocate said.

Of course, Kim is now proud to be a social advocate. Not only has she found a cause to believe in, but she has embraced her daughter completely and wants nothing but happiness for Kai. “I usually prepare my children for the world, but now I’m preparing the world for my child,”

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