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.

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.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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