Mom defends her son’s right to wear a tutu after a stranger publicly confronts her
Described as “Mr. Rogers, when Mister Rogers was three,” Roo is a thoughtful, joyful, curious, and kind little boy. He likes to play with trucks, do jigsaw puzzles, and eat plums. He also likes to wear sparkly tutus because they make him feel beautiful and brave. And who can blame him, tutus are pretty awesome.
Like most parents, Jen Anderson Shattuck and her wife Audra Shattuck want to support and encourage their son to express himself. So they don’t bat an eye when Roo wears his sparkly and empowering tutus around town – to church, the grocery store, and the park. For the most part, Roo’s tutus are a non-issue. Most people accept Roo for the sweet and enthusiastic boy that he is. But, unfortunately, not all people.
In a viral Facebook post , mom Jen Shattuck tells of an uncomfortable and dangerous situation in which a stranger approached her and her son, demanding to know why he was wearing a skirt. The stranger asked questions about why she was “doing this” to her son and told her son that she was a “bad mommy.” The bully took pictures of them and threatened them.
In spite of the stranger’s attempt at intimidation, the family is holding fast in their commitment to love and support their son so he can feel welcome in the world. “I will not be made to feel vulnerable or afraid,” Jen wrote in her viral Facebook post. “I will not let angry strangers tell my son what he can or cannot wear.”
Jen told Scary Mommy that she decided to share the story not only so that everyone would know what happened, but also to show the world the strength of a parent’s love. And the positive response to Jen’s Facebook post has been, in a word, overwhelming. She has received thousands of messages and photos from around the world, for which she and her wife are incredibly grateful. “My wife and I know that there are people who disagree with our choices,” she said. “We are not asking anyone to agree with us; we are only hoping to show how much we love our son.”
The Shattuck’s commitment to supporting their son is so infectious that it prompted an Internet movement called #TutusForRoo, and folks around the country – children and adults, men and women – are sharing photos on social media of themselves wearing tutus and skirts. Not only does the #TutusForRoo show an outpouring of support for Roo and his family, but it has come to represent support for self-expression, diversity, and acceptance.
Sadly, the Shattucks aren’t the only ones who have faced backlash for their sons’ wardrobe and style choices. Last week, Charlize Theron faced a shit storm of controversy after her son was photographed dressed as Elsa from the movie Frozen. And Jillian Michaels recently came under fire for letting her 4-year-old son get his ears pierced. We’re talking about innocent things like skirts, long hair, and earrings. No one is getting hurt. And this is 2016 for heaven’s sake. Can’t we move beyond outdated gender norms already?
Fortunately, there are moms like Jen and Audra out there raising the next generation of kind, compassionate, and loving people. As parents, Jen says, “we are called to be brave and open-hearted so that our children might learn to be brave and open-hearted too. We are called to show them how to love without condition. I am doing what I am called to do.”
The world might not always be easy for our children. They will be challenged, suffer setbacks, be hurt and feel scared. And, unfortunately, our children will also encounter their fair share of assholes. But as parents, we can love them fiercely and unconditionally, give them the confidence to stay true to themselves, show them they are beautiful, and teach them how to be brave. And that’s just what these two amazing moms are doing.
“I will shout my love from street corners,” Jen wrote in the Facebook post. “I will defend, shouting, [Roo’s] right to walk down the street in peace, wearing whatever items of clothing he wants to wear. I will show him, in whatever way I can, that I value the person he is, trust in his vision for himself, and support his choices – no matter what anybody else says, no matter who tries to stop him or how often.”
She concluded her post by sharing their family motto: “We are loving. We are kind. We are determined and persistent. We are beautiful and brave. We know who we are. Angry strangers will not change who we are. The world will not change who we are –we will change the world.”