Let the Boys Wear Skirts

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THE PLANK NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Let the Boys Wear Skirts

The NYT's "Sunday Styles" had a piece looking at how schools are grappling with the latest dresscode dilemma: kids who push boundaries by crossing gender lines.

Girls in tuxes, boys in eyeliner, prom queens with the reproductive equipment of prom kings--these sorts of challenges to authority and convention make me smile in the way they blend both the new and the perennial.

Not long after the first caveman strapped on a loincloth, adults have been freaking out about what kids wear. Kids, in turn, feel the need to push back against such efforts to control them.

(Despite being straight-laced and a great student, I responded to my high school's prohibition on bare midriffs by wearing sundresses that looked perfectly prim from the front, but, in back, were cut damn near down to my butt. My principal was unamused but never escalated the issue by sending me home, which suggests he was wiser than I gave him credit for.)

Adding a gender-identity wrinkle to the dance makes it fresher, less tiresome. That whole girls-as-sexpots, boys-as-gangbangers fashion urge is so predictable. A guy in lipgloss and a nice pair of skinny jeans is the much more interesting battlefield.

Give 'em hell, kids. It's a rite of passage.

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