Celebrities are known for setting trends, of course. It’s why you started spending $60 per month on brow products in 2010 only to cover them with little round sunglasses in the summer of 2017. A lot of those trends are frivolous, bordering on ridiculous, like the Britney newsboy caps of the early 2000s. However, some of the bandwagons that celebrities get on are impactful and important.
Many celebs aren’t shy about social change and have thrown their weight behind issues and causes that are making a real difference in the world. That’s what these next five celebs are doing with gender neutrality in children. (And if you think you can guess who all five of these celebs are, you might need to think again.)
The French Canadian chanteuse extraordinaire is one of the people who can truly say they were all about gender neutrality before it could ever be construed as a buzzword or trend. Way back in 2012, Celine was roasted by the tabloids for – gasp! – allowing her young son Rene-Charles to have hair so long it almost reached his waist. In 2013 she doubled down on not giving a toss about what anyone thought by releasing a photo of her younger son Nelson wearing a pair of high heels.
It’s no surprise then that Celine has kept up her gender fluid opinions on child-rearing and has paired up with forward-thinking fashion brand NUNUNU to create a signature line of rock and roll unisex baby clothes that blur the lines between male and female. As Celine herself says, it’s not about trying to shift gender norms, it’s about enabling children to feel free to find their own individuality without being swayed by stereotypes.
Noticing a trend of powerful singers yet? It should come as no surprise that Pink’s got no time for how things are supposed to be done or what anyone expects from her as a parent. She’ll do it her way, thank you very much, and she’s made room for her children to do just the same. Her children Willow and Carey will grow up well aware that they’re free to be whoever they are. To that end, Willow famously attended the 2017 MTV VMA’s wearing a suit – with both of her parents wearing matching outfits.
Let it be known, however, that Pink probably wouldn’t be a big fan of this headline. She eschews the term gender-neutral because she sees it as a label and considers her household to be label-free.
If the words big surprise entered your mind upon reading about Celine Dion and Pink committing themselves to the disruption of gender-based stereotypes in children, you can hardly be blamed. But did you see this one coming?
LA Lakers legend Magic Johnson is known for his big presence on and off the court, and while he may be about as manly as they come, he hasn’t let that affect the way he raises his children. His eldest child EJ was outed by gossip website TMZ in 2013 and EJ has since embraced his role as an outsized gender-fluid personality with a wardrobe that drips extravagance – complete with slinky dresses, thigh-high boots, fur shawls, and diamond chokers.
As Magic puts it, it’s all about not deciding what your son or daughter should be, it’s about loving them no matter that they decide to do or who they are.
The entire Smith family
Back when Will Smith was rapping about West Philadelphia, born and raised, it may have been hard to believe he would one day be a part of one of the most progressive families in Hollywood, but 29 years later here we are.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have set a sterling example for how raising children with gender neutrality inspires them to find themselves and, in turn, grow up to be role models. Daughter Willow shaved her head at the age of 9 and older son Jaden starred in a Louis Vuitton ad campaign in 2016, modeling women’s clothing, including skirts. Will Smith has said that the greatest gift he can give his children is the freedom to be who they are. Jaden is taking it a step further, saying he is going to take the brunt of the backlash now so five years from now when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won’t get beat up.
For as long as she’s been in the public eye, Ellen DeGeneres has favored a gender neutral style for herself with her close-cropped hair, button-ups and blazers now an iconic part of her look. She’s gone through ups and downs in Hollywood, notably receiving backlash and watching her career temporarily stall after she came out in 1997, but through it all she’s stayed true to herself.
That’s something she wants to pass down to the younger generations. In 2015 Ellen partnered with Gap to launch GapKids x ED, a gender neutral clothing line that encourages children to be themselves, take pride in who they are, and do what makes them happy.
Finding their tiny selves
Children are bright and brilliant beings with limitless potential once we allow them to find themselves on their own terms. Many celebrities encourage exploration and individualism in children, and with the rewards our world will reap down the line because today’s children didn’t feel boxed in by their gender, it’s probably time many of the rest of us considered following in their footsteps. After all, what is childhood about more than freedom?