Fashion choices

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

We had a great time at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley this weekend. Moomin played on the giant sculpture of DNA and on the huge whale. I had another ignoble moment of complete lack of patience as he clambered around in the DNA . He wanted to go through the entire long DNA strand; I didn’t want to, and so sat on a distant fountain wall, watching, while Rook stood there to help in sticky moments and explained (like a hero) what DNA is.

The best part of this museum is the animal room in the basement, where every 10 minutes or so they bring out a new animal for all the kids to hold, admire, and pet. We held a tarantula named Parker (after Peter Parker); a dove, a snake, a desert lizard, and more.

Now looking at this photo I am struck by Moomin’s outfit. My mom bought him many pairs of jeans recently, but he doesn’t like wearing them because they are “too rough”. He likes bright colors and sweatpants. I tend to dress him in black or grey with one other color, like I would dress myself; but when he chooses his clothes he comes out like this! And it’s cute!

Yet I know it makes him stand out more among his classmates – none of whom would wear banana-yellow pants. He is often mistaken by strangers for a girl, simply because he doesn’t always wear drab blue and green clothes plastered with footballs or snarling robot warriors.

In fact he has plenty of shirts with yu-gi-oh or dinosaurs… or other butchy motifs. Which he loves to wear. With bright yellow, green, or red pants.

My point was, I guess, that strangers often comment on the way Moomin dresses. They are worried about it. They feel it indicates something disturbing, something that I should prevent or fix. Or – on the other side – something I should be specially complimented on. One mom in Moomin’s former nursery school said to me confidingly, “I think it’s great how you dress him in bright colors, it’s sort of… European. That’s so brave of you.”

I had no idea how to decode this! European? Brave? I still think of it and wonder what the heck it meant. I have a feeling it’s like when Mexicans think I’m German because my armpits are hairy. As if it would be less rude to attribute the “disturbing factor” to some other-nation or cultural difference rather than to individual choice to vary from a norm.

It all seems so silly, to worry about what a little kid wears. When better to play around with funny hair and clothes than when you’re a kid? Maybe that will get it out of their systems and they won’t grow up to have purple hair till they die… like SOME PEOPLE.

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