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Jaden Smith's skirt is the latest chapter in the history of gendered clothing.

Seen wearing a skirt in Louis Vuitton's latest collection, Smith defies gender expectations.

Jaden Smith's skirt is the latest chapter in the history of gendered clothing.

The idea that certain clothes are meant for certain genders has a really weird (and arbitrary) history.

Some may say skirts are for girls or argue that certain colors go with certain genders, but throughout history, both of those points (style and color) have switched back and forth without much reason. Pink is for girls? Or is it blue? Or is white for all babies? What about boys? History has seen it all.

Take, for example, this picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an adorable 3-year-old in 1885. The man who would go on to become the 32nd president of the United States had long hair and wore a dress, common for children of his era.


Say hello to FDR. Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images.

Or consider this note from a 1918 issue of Ladies Home Journal, which stressed that blue was for girls and pink was for boys, opposite of what we consider to be true in today's world:

"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."

One reason clothing became gendered in the first place was to differentiate and reinforce gender norms.

Girls would wear different styles and colors than boys so they could be easily distinguished from each other. This affected how society treated them, how they were taught in school, and how they were raised.

Decidedly gendered clothing also came from a fear that if boys and girls weren't raised in distinct, separate ways, they'd turn out to be gay or lesbian (which we now know is not the case).

“It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” author and historian Jo B. Paoletti responded to a question from Smithsonian magazine about the shift to the present-day thinking that boys wear blue, girls wear pink. “What was once a matter of practicality — you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached — became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted."

But there's hope we can end this trend of gendered clothing. And it's getting mainstream attention thanks to Jaden Smith.

The actor and son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith has been pretty open about the fact that he wears skirts and dresses. So when he was named as one of the faces of Louis Vuitton's spring 2016 womenswear collection, it didn't exactly come as a shock.

In an image posted over the weekend to Instagram by Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, Smith is shown alongside models Sarah Brannon, Rianne Van Rompaey, and Jean Campbell. In it, he's wearing what looks to be a leather jacket, a knit top, and, yes, a skirt.


Smith's clothing choices are a form of self-expression — which is all clothing should be.

"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," Smith told GQ last year about his style choices. "But I like wearing super drapey things so I can feel as though I’m a super hero, but don’t have to necessarily wear super hero costumes everyday."

To Smith, gender doesn't factor into his clothing choices. His clothes aren't "girl's clothes," they're his clothes. He's pushing back at stereotypes we've had pushed on us for decades, bringing fashion back to what it should be: a reflection of how you feel and not necessarily a statement of one's gender.

His clothing isn't a referendum on his gender; it just means he has an individual sense of style that, yes, includes the occasional dress, skirt, or Batman ensemble.


Congratulations and thanks are in order for Smith. His openness with his self-expression will surely help others.

Right now, somewhere in the world, there is a girl worrying that she can't wear something stereotypically masculine because it's "for boys," or there's a boy worried that the fact his favorite color is pink makes him broken in some way. These types of stereotypes hurt us all, but especially children, who wind up feeling as if they're wrong for not fitting into a predetermined and inconsistent box set by society.

People like Jaden Smith — who stay true to their interests despite society's expectations — will make the world a less judgmental place for those kids who don't fit in the box.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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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.