Grinning little boys dress up as Disney princesses for magical photo series — as photographer insists children’s imaginations shouldn’t be limited by their gender
A photographer is encouraging boys who want to dress up as princesses to embrace those dresses and tiaras with her photo campaign, which challenges gender norms and promotes self-acceptance. As a ‘princess performer,’ Kitty Wolf from Chicago, Illinois, has heard countless boys told that princesses are ‘just for girls’ and that liking princesses made them ‘weak’ or ‘inferior.’
So in 2019, she launched the Boys Can Be Princesses, Too project, in which she photographs young boys dressed up as princesses alongside grown-up princess performers to challenge the idea that boys should be ashamed to like anything that isn’t ‘manly.’
‘I have seen boys being told that princesses are “just for girls” or that liking princesses and especially dressing as one somehow makes them weak, inferior or not boys,’ Wolf explained on her website. ‘They’re told it’s not manly, or macho, or normal. This leads boys to feel ashamed of their interests, confused, sad, and lonely.’ She went on to argue that putting on a princess dress should not have to signify what gender a child is, only that they want to experience the ‘magic’ and ‘beauty’ of the character.
She was inspired to start the project after working as a preschool assistant. During one her classes, she overheard female students telling one young boy he was not allowed to pretend he was a princess because he was a male.
‘Now, we wouldn’t stand for it if a boy told those girls they couldn’t play as ninja turtles or something because they’re “just for boys,” so why do we do it for boys? That idea sat around in my head for a while,’ Wolf told Bored Panda.
Wolf also owned a princess party company at the time, and would dress up as princesses to perform at events for children. She decided to combine her photography skills with her collection of costumes to photograph boys dressed up.
Originally, Wolf thought the idea would only be a fun photoshoot to share on Facebook, but then it gained attention from more and more people.
‘I wanted to capture their pure joy as well, so many of the shots you see in the gallery are all candid as the kids hung out and played with their new friend. There was just so much happiness at those photo shoots, I hope it comes through in the photos.’
Not only were the photoshoots fun for the children, but they also received positive reactions from people online. Some people confessed they wished a photo shoot like that was around when they were children, Wolf said.
Wolf has also experienced hateful comments about the photo shoots from people who are unhappy with young boys dressing up as princesses, but she chooses to ignore the hate. ‘All they do is inspire me to keep going,’ she said. ‘As long as there is hate, I know this project is needed, so I won’t stop until the hate stops.’