As we move toward gender equality and become more aware of gender fluidity, more and more parents are allowing their kids to explore the idea of gender freely, letting their boys wear skirts or letting their girls cut their hair short. A number of celebrities are also taking the lead on ditching restrictive ideas of femininity and masculinity, and instead promoting the idea that we’re all human, we all have a mix of tastes and traits and we weren’t necessarily born in a physical body that represents who we are on the inside.
There’s a huge range of what gender-neutral parenting looks like: Some parents just let their kids explore what they do and how they look, and others take it further by dressing their kids in gender-neutral clothes and giving them gender-neutral names. Let’s take a look at some of the celeb parents who are tossing strict ideas of gender out the window as they raise their kids.
Pink & Carey Hart
Billboard record-smashing singer Pink and motocross racer Carey Hart aren't traditional when it comes to much, so it's not a huge surprise that the pair are raising their two kids, Willow Sage, 7, and Jameson Moon, 2, without strict gender guidelines.
"We are a very label-less household," the pop star told The People.
Pink has pushed back against the idea that she and Hart have a "gender-neutral" household, though, but says instead that they are just label-free — even including the label gender-neutral.
"I believe that a woman and a girl can do anything," she told People magazine. "I believe that a boy can do anything. So I have boys that flip dirt bikes and I have boy friends that wear dresses. It’s all OK to me. It’s whatever floats your boat. So that’s the kind of house that we live in.”
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are raising three beautiful children who they love and accept no matter what. Even when their son Jaden, 20, began to wear skirts and dresses, the couple encouraged him to be himself, even if it was a bit of a struggle at first.
“The greatest gift that I can give my children is the freedom to be who they are,” Smith told BET. “I feel like a lot of times, when I was growing up, I would see parents… force a child to be what you want them to be. As a parent, if it’s an oak tree, I want it to grow as an oak tree. I’m not gonna try to force it to be an apple tree.”
It turns out that letting an oak tree be an oak tree is a good thing. Jaden was hired to be a Louis Vuitton model sporting women's wear, and he's a role model for being just who you want to be and loving yourself no matter what.
Adele & Simon Konecki
Adele and her partner, Simon Konecki, keep their son Angelo pretty under wraps — which makes sense for the media-swarmed international vocalist. But after she was spotted with her toddler while he was dressed in a Disney princess dress (Anna from Frozen, if you must know), she was happy to share that she just wants her kid to be himself — and that she can't wait to see him develop and grow, no matter what.
"I can’t wait to know who his best friends are going to be, who his girlfriend or his boyfriend is going to be or what movies he likes," the Grammy-winning singer told Time magazine. "Whatever my kid wants to do or be, I will always support him, no matter what."
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's second child, 12-year-old Shiloh Nouvel, has wanted to present as a boy since she was two years old. Instead of trying to change her feelings or demanding that she wear dresses, both parents, though now separated, have supported Shiloh's exploration. The tween has often been spotted wearing suits at formal events and T-shirts, hats, hoodies and shorts when she's just walking around. She's also sported a short haircut throughout the years.
"She wants to be a boy," Jolie told Vanity Fair in 2010. "So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything."
Pitt even told Oprah back in 2008 that Shiloh wanted to be called John or Peter for a while, and he and Jolie agreed. It doesn't seem like that lasted, but Pitt and Jolie were sure to be supportive anyway.
Paloma Faith & Leyman Lahcine
British songstress and actor Paloma Faith had her first child in 2016 with long-term boyfriend artist Leyman Lahcine, but no one in the public knows the baby's name or gender. It's no mistake by the star, who says that she wants to keep the information to herself so that her child can have a life that's as normal as possible. She also wants her child to have the privacy and freedom to grow up and be exactly who they are meant to be.
“I’m not in denial of gender, but I have absolutely no problem if my child grows up not feeling an affinity with the gender they were born with," she told You magazine. “It’s important to me they’re given all the opportunities to be the person they want to be.”
Faith also said she'd take the same path with future children.
“I want two or three kids in all and they'll be gender neutral."
Bryce Dallas Howard & Seth Gabel
When Bryce Dallas Howard had her second child with husband Seth Gabel, they decided not to get female-gendered baby clothes and instead just dress their new daughter, Beatrice, in neutral hand-me-downs from her older brother, Theo.
"She was bald for a very long time, and so gender [was] a little unclear,” the Jurassic World actor told People. “But that was fine, and there was no problem. I really wanted to wait for her to lead me in a certain direction.”
As the odds would have it, Beatrice grew up and started to gravitate to more feminine clothing, at which point Howard was happy to oblige.
“She’s just into all this princess stuff,” Howard says. “And layers of costumes and anything that she feels looks glamorous. Like, ‘OK, OK, you like that stuff, we’ll get it for you!’"
Megan Fox & Brian Austin Green
Transformers actor Megan Fox and her husband, actor Brian Austin Green, have their hands full while raising three boys, ages 2, 4, and 6. But before you assume that their house is one big hurricane of boy things, you should know that Fox refuses to label her children or pressure them to fit into neat boxes of gender.
"If a boy loves princesses and a girl loves baseball, that's not indicative of their sexuality," Fox told Media Planet. "It's indicative of their communication and creative expression. We can't limit children by telling them how they should play."
Her feelings started when she was pregnant with her oldest boy, Noah: “When I became pregnant with Noah, I could feel, through my mother's intuition I suppose, that he was not subscribing to gender stereotypes, so I decided to provide an environment for him early on that would allow him to discover how he wanted to express himself," she said.
As the kids have grown, she's let them grow their hair out and wear dresses if that's what they feel like doing.
Gwen Stefani has three boys with ex-husband Gavin Rossdale: Kingston James McGregor, 12, Zuma Nesta Rock, 10, and Apollo Bowie Flynn, 4. With all three boys, Stefani has been clear about allowing them to express themselves freely and be themselves, even if it involves painting their toenails and wearing tutus.
"What I like to say is that being unique and original is what makes me happy, and I think that rubs off on them," Stefani told Entertainment Tonight.
"It’s really important more than anything else to not be talked into something, to stand your ground and to be able to be strong about what you feel,” she added. “I don’t want them to try to be like everyone else, and at that age, everybody just wants to have the same shoes everybody else has, and I don’t really like that. If they do want to, I’ll support that as well. You just want them to be happy. It’s a short life and it goes by so quick.”
Zoe Saldana & Marco Perego
Zoe Saldana and her partner, Italian artist Marco Perego, are all about gender equality — they even took each other's last names when they married in 2013. Their feelings also affect the way they parent their three boys, 4-year-old twins Bowie and Cy and 18-month-old Zen.
“When you look at parenting, the whole thing about matriarchy and patriarchy, and Daddy’s little girl and Mama’s boys — my husband and I find that completely ludicrous and absolutely unhealthy for the upbringing of a child,” Saldana told People.
Why pick this gender-fluid environment for their kids?
“You’re giving them a very distorted and limited view on what a female role is supposed to be in a family and what a male role is supposed to be," she explained.
Russell Brand & Laura Gallacher
Comedian Russell Brand has a toddler, Mabel, with his wife, lifestyle blogger Laura Gallacher. The two of them approach parenthood with an open mind about the gender of their daughter and aren't going to fight against any of their kids' explorations or leanings.
"I have re-evaluated the way that I unconsciously looked at gender, because now I've got a daughter I think, 'Wow, I don't necessarily need to dress her in clothes that are indicative of her gender,'" the comedian said on This Morning. "Why would you? I've become quite sensitive to that and aware of it."
He continued, "When I first saw my daughter, I felt like some latent part of myself got switched on in that moment, something to do with my own femininity and fathomless love that I had previously speculated upon but not accessed."
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