Thanks in part to Disney, the world has been inundated with superheroes and princesses. And thanks to some very successful and progressive marketing, it’s not only boys who are playing superheroes. Between Superhero Girls, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Okoye, Black Widow, and many others there's no shortage of super inspiration for little girls these days. But what about the other way around? What about little boys who love Elsa and Belle and want to play princesses?
Historically, gender stereotypes have made it difficult for little boys who want to pretend-play with what are considered "girl toys." Little boys are encouraged to be Iron Man and Captain America, not Moana or Belle. Even with the shift toward less rigid gender norms, there's still plenty push back against little boys playing with feminine toys.
But times are a-changin'.
Photographer Kitty Wolf is making sure boys get their day to play princess too. As the founder of The Boys Can Be Princesses, Too project, Wolf is giving boys the opportunity to have their photos taken with everyone’s favorite ladies.
“I used to do princess parties where I dressed up like a princess character and visited children on their birthday,” explains photographer Kitty Wolf. “Once, I visited a boy who loved Frozen, and he was even dressed just like Elsa. He was over the moon to have a real princess at his party and had a blast the whole time, same as all the girls I’ve done parties for.” Wolf describes another time she was performing at a preschool when she overheard two young girls chastising a boy classmate for saying he was playing as a princess. “I could see it upset him. I told them we can all be whatever we want to be when we play and they all continued playing nicely. That interaction sat with me for a long time though.”
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Inspired by the release of Gillette’s controversial commercial taking on toxic masculinity, Wolf decided there was something she could do herself to address boys being princess-shamed. “As a company, I have a wider audience to send a message—what kind of message do I want to send out there?” Wolf remembered the princess birthday boy as well as the episode with the two young girls “and it hit me, boys as princesses. I have a team of professional princesses, some basic photography skills and sizable Facebook following so I just went for it.”
The results, as you can see, are adorable.
Wolf says the majority of feedback has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” but as with anything that pushes the status quo, she’s received a sizable number of negative comments on her photos. “Unfortunately this project offends a lot of people for a lot of different reasons,” she explains. "I’ve been called all sorts of awful things, been blamed for the eventual downfall of society, received a few threats, and am just generally hated by a lot of people.”
She doesn’t let the hate get her down though. “As disheartening as all the hate is, it just shows me how much this project is needed. If people were ok with it, the way they are ok with girls dressing in boys’ clothes, then I wouldn’t need to do this project.”
To date, Wolf has done seven photoshoots with boys dressed as their favorite princesses, complete with actors in character. She says it’s been an amazing success and, despite the detractors, “The comment sections and shares are full of people showing support for these boys and their parents and everyone like them. Some parents are sharing their own pictures of their little princess boys. The most touching comments though are from people saying they wish this project was a thing when they were younger, how they wouldn’t have felt so alone.”
Wolf says she won't be bullied for standing up for freedom of imagination and there’s no endpoint in sight for the project. “The more hate I get, the more it inspires me to keep going. I won’t stop until the hate stops.”