We’ve heard it all before. “Blue is for boys, pink is for girls”. “You can’t have that, it’s a boys toy”. “You can’t wear that, it’s too ‘girly'”. Colours, toys, just about everything you could possibly think of is having a gender put onto it. If a baby boy is born then he’s got to be given a blue balloon. If a young girl wants to take part in a sport, it should be dance or gymnastics. If a young boy wants to take part in a sport, it should be football. What year is this? 1832?

For some people and parents, it’s pretty instinctual as it’s just what’s naturally been integrated into them from birth, so they often do these things subconsciously. Most of us probably don’t mean to do it, but that doesn’t mean things can’t be changed and that it’s acceptable. I can’t even count all the times I’ve been in a shop and witnessed someone depriving their son or daughter of a certain item just because they consider it to be more suited for the other gender. It’s an inanimate object. A simple piece of plastic or fabric. Why do you need to put a gender on that?

But this isn’t just an issue amongst parents and their children. Gender stereotypes have been present in society for many years and it’s high time we pushed to break them down. These stereotypes are present in every aspect of our lives, including our careers.

If a woman wants to be a mechanic or a boxer it’s deemed “unfeminine”. If a man wants to be a nurse or even a stay-at-home dad it’s considered “unmasculine”. The ideas of masculinity and femininity in my eyes are completed fabricated by society and there is no logical reason as to why certain characteristics and behaviours should be categorised to specific genders. How about we stop restricting people from pursuing their passions and just let them get on with it instead?

Wear what you want, do what you want. Don’t feel restricted by what society deems to be a gender norm.

This issue is all the more relevant in the wake of Prince’s death too, his legacy of breaking down gender norms and opening people’s minds up to the whole spectrum is an incredible part of history that shan’t be forgotten. His bold fashion statements not only allowed him to embrace himself, but also opened up thousands of minds to the idea of breaking away from “gender rules”.

Gender goes so far beyond just male and female and society has slowly been growing to accept that, although this isn’t to say that it’s not still an issue that needs to be massively fought for. Gender is a spectrum. Open your eyes and realise this. Some people may identify as agender, some gender fluid and others transgender. Whatever your identity, you should still be accepted and not shoved aside by society for not fitting into what has traditionally been considered to be the norm.

Anatomy does not always define gender. Not everyone’s gender corresponds to their biological sex and by asserting gender roles onto a child from a young age and even continuing it into adulthood it can often make expression and a feeling of acceptance much harder for them compared to that of a cisgender individual.

By eliminating these roles and stereotypes, the judgement that is being placed upon everyone on the spectrum can hopefully be removed and acceptance and happiness can hopefully overrule and the world may become a slightly better place to live in.

So keep your mind wide open and allow for stereotypes to be defied. Express yourself in whatever way you wish and allow others to do the same. Don’t make anyone afraid to stand up and stand out for who they are and who they want to be.

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