More

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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less