8 inspiring photos prove boys don't have to act like 'boys' to be boys.

Canadian photographer Kirsten McGoey has three boys — one of them who happens to love dance.

"He twirls so often, my head spins thinking about it," Kirsten told Upworthy.


Kirsten's middle son working the barre.

He also happens to love a whole host of other things that have been traditionally linked with girls, she says, but that doesn't seem to faze him.

Kirsten was so inspired by her son's unabashed love for things that aren't traditionally masculine that she decided to document his enthusiasm through a photography series called #aboycantoo.

A self-described tomboy, Kirsten has been touched by the gender equality movements meant to encourage girls not to let the fact that something is marketed or designated as "for boys" prevent them from doing what they love.

As a mother of boys, however, she wanted to open the conversation in the other direction.

She started by photographing her own sons, but once word of her project reached the community, she discovered there were a number of boys who, like her son, didn't ascribe themselves to traditional "boy" activities.

In six months, she's photographed 17 of them, embracing the things they love:

(Some are not named because their parents preferred anonymity.)

1. Things like tap dancing.

Kirsten's middle son in his tap shoes.

"Pink is not for girls and blue is not for boys, any more than dance is for girls and soccer is boys," Kirsten says.

2. And figuring skating.

He's been skating for several years and does a mean single Salchow.

3. Or acting, playing a female character.

Cian, like many of us, appreciates a great dress find.

Even at first meeting, Kirsten knew Cian was extraordinary. He was holding an apple, then out of nowhere, pretended to faint. When she went to help him, he got up and told her, "I am being Snow White after she bit the apple."

"My son has more confidence in his little body than I've seen in my entire life. He's inspired me to have more confidence in myself," Cian's mother told Upworthy.

4. There are little boys in the world who like playing with dolls.

This 3-year-old treats his doll like she's his baby, and it's the best.

5. And reading lots of books.

This boy is only 8, and he's already read 500 books. Now he reads at a teenage level.

6. And singing dramatically.

Belting his final moment in "Oliver!"

7. Some boys like playing with hair accessories.

Kirsten's youngest loving hair accessories.

8. And others do ballet.

Brenden teaching Kirsten's middle son a ballet move.

The #aboycantoo project is giving the boys strength to deal with the resistance they face from society as they grow up.

They're realizing they can play a pivotal role as mentors to the younger boys who will come after them, she says, and it shows them that growing up into something that isn't traditionally "masculine" doesn't have to be fraught with difficulties.

At the end of the day, Kirsten hopes her project will allow people who haven't supported these boys to have a change of heart.

More importantly, she says, "If one boy finds the ability to be himself with pride because of this project we have met my goal."

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.