I am interrupting my entertainment series for a little bit to talk about this.
I grew up in Mennonite culture. Mennonites are very traditional.
My mom was born in Mexico but mostly grew up in Canada wearing really warm, long-sleeved, uncomfortable dresses.
My dad grew up in Mexico and wore button up shirts and jeans/overalls.
This is basically the style
Luckily for me, both of my parents decided to start a family in Canada instead of Mexico which is why our family no longer wears old-colony Mennonite clothes. We’re a lot more modern, probably the most modern form of Mennonites out there (especially if you consider the “Amish” Mennonites).
Here’s a picture of us being modern if you needed a reference.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because Mennonite culture is very traditional, especially when it comes to gender roles.
I’ve had long hair for pretty much my whole life up until last June. Ever since then, I’ve had numerous people tell me how beautiful I was when I had long hair. (Funny they only decided to mention that now) Thankfully for my friends, my siblings, and a few lovely strangers, I was also told that short hair really suited me.
(Here are before and after pictures of my hair. Both of these photos are from this year, and It’s really hard to believe that I changed so much in such a short time, physically and mentally.)
What bothers me the most about old-colony Mennonite culture is that it has so many giant double standards – double standards that affect me because my parents were old-colony Mennonites growing up.
Mennonites say not to dress like everyone else because “we’re not everyone else – dress comfortably instead” – but when I cut my hair for the sake of mentality and comfort, it’s all, “You hair was so beautiful before. Are you going to grow it out now? You really should. Are you cutting your hair again? I found hair in the garbage so I know you’re cutting it, don’t even lie.”
There are like 500 more double standards in this culture but it’s best not to get into all of them right now. Now I’m moving onto more pressing matters aka. this list. (I love lists)
Traditional/ Old-Colony Mennonite Opinions
- Girls can’t have short hair. It looks bad.
- Boys can’t have long hair. It looks bad.
- Girls should not wear revealing clothes.
- Boys should NEVER wear makeup, nail polish, the colour pink, flowers, sparkles, high heels, dresses, or skirts. Butterflies are not for boys, and baby dolls are not for boys either.
Now to be fair, the last point is not just a traditionalist’s opinion. There are some very progressive people who still stand firm in the belief that boys shouldn’t wear any of those things, but I just want to point out how ridiculous it is. I mean, humans just made it all up! We decided (for some reason) that flowers are for girls. FLOWERS ARE PLANTS! They’re just these little plants with a lot of different colours, and we decided that it’s not a boy thing. Can you imagine if someone said that a cactus is a boy plant?
We’d think they were crazy.
“Boys can’t wear sparkles.” Sparkles?! The human eye is drawn to shiny, and sparkly things, whether you’re male or female. And butterflies are insects! Like it’s totally fine for a boy to get a bee painted onto his face at a carnival, or even a caterpillar, but a butterfly?
“No. That’s for girls.”
A caterpillar and a butterfly are the same creature!
Worst of all we decided that baby dolls are not for little boys. Please name an easier way to teach boys that the girl is supposed to do the parenting.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Maybe… so let’s go even further.
The more we force our kids to live up to certain gender norms, the more they’ll think that there’s something wrong with them if they don’t want to live up to them. A boy might think,
“I like sparkles, pink, and butterflies. I’m not supposed to, because I’m a boy, right? So… does that mean I’m a girl on the inside? The only way I can enjoy these things without people making fun of me is if I was a girl.”
You see where I’m going with this?
Now I’m not saying anything about the trans community because there are so many varying opinions on the matter, but I will say this; if traditional parents are so worried about their child being transgender, then maybe they should let their kids know that their interests have nothing to do with what gender they are. Maybe you shouldn’t refuse to let them have interests outside of their gender stereotype. Maybe you should even let your boys wear skirts and dresses because skirts and dresses really are just pieces of material and nothing more.