When 17-year-old Jaden Smith (a.k.a. a boy) was named as the new face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection, reactions were mixed. Some people were confused. Some were angry. But most people were really bloomin’ relieved that a celebrity was doing so much to tackle gender barriers.
Jaden Smith over here burning, breaking, killing & destroying gender barriers/roles. Praise that kid.
— cute but still ugly (@czerrr) January 4, 2016
In one image from the campaign, posted to Instagram over the weekend, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith is seen posing in a leather jacket, a knit top, brogues…and yes, a skirt.
It’s not the first time that the actor/rapper/profound Tweeter has been photographed wearing so-called ‘women’s’ clothing. In the past he’s been pictured wearing skirts all over the place. Heck, he even wore a dress to his high school prom. While some may argue this is all just a case of a precocious teenager acting out to establish his own identity away from his famous parents, others think differently. Maybe it’s actually a clued-up teenager recognising that it’s time to put a stop to arbitrary gender rules.
Jaden Smith’s skirt: Let’s take a look at the history books
From a young age, many kids are introduced to society-held views of what’s right for boys and girls. In the most obvious example, children are socialised to think that pink is for girls, and blue is for boys. You only need to look in any department store to see that this is a viewpoint that still holds true today.
But actually, this is something that has been contended throughout history, as highlighted by Upworthy. Take this note from a 1918 issue of Ladies Home Journal, which stated that blue was for girls and pink was for boys:
“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
Distinct colour clothes became a thing for many reasons; one of them being in order to reinforce gender norms. And then there was the view that if boys and girls weren’t raised in separate ways, they would turn out to be either gay or lesbian (which is complete rubbish, as we now know).
But back to Jaden Smith and the topic of his skirts. Given the topic of this piece, you’d probably be unsurprised to see that it hasn’t always been dresses for girls and trousers for boys. Just like this picture of a 3-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt taken in 1885. In it, the future president is sporting a full head of long, luscious locks, as well as a dress and a frilly collar: both common features of a child from this era.
Jaden Smith has previously spoken about his love of expressing himself through his clothing. Last year he told GQ magazine about his style choices:
“I’m just expressing how I feel inside, which is really no particular way because everyday it changes how I feel about the world and myself.”
But more than just expressing how he feels, wearing skirts also goes some way in helping to lift any stereotypes or pre-conceived judgements that still exist in the world today. After all, if a girl wants to wear trousers or shorts, no one bats an eyelid. But for a boy to plump for a skirt or dress? Unfortunately, that’s still a completely different kettle of fish.
If you found this article on Jaden Smith and the subject of gendered clothing interesting, you might also like some of our other articles, including Finally! H&M Features Its First Hijab-Wearing Muslim Model and Psy’s Gender-Bending Dance Is The Best Thing You’ll See All Day