Attempting to have participants understand that there are many different ways to be a boy or girl and that there isn’t one way to dress; we should wear whatever makes us feel good and comfortable, regardless of what other think and say.
- Various dress up clothing and props
- An area with a backdrop for a “photobooth”
Fashion and gender have been strongly connected, and are influenced by media and marketing, which changes over time. What we wear can affect what we do and how we act, and can reinforce stereotypes. Anyone should be able to look and act like however they want.
- Describe your outfit to the group, explaining why it was chosen to wear to program. Then ask the group if there are any activities or situations that your outfit would not be suited for.
- Divide the group into smaller groups, assign them a particular occasion (ie. tree climbing, going to the beach, running a race, dancing, picture day, or a fancy party), and instruct them to design their “best” outfit for that occasion.
- Gather your group to sit in a circle and have the briefly present their designs.
- Show participants the first set of images from the Fashion Flashcards, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, and have them talk about what they see and what they think. Refrain from giving them extra information at this time.
- After a minute or two discussing each image, flip the card over read to the group the context behind the image.
- After viewing the set of images, ask the group what they think of children’s clothing today, whether there a rules to what they can wear, and whether they affect how they act.
- Discuss how, over history, society tells us what is OK for boys and girls to wear but that some people have become role models by challenging these stereotypes and wearing whatever they want.
- Take out the dress-up items, play some music, and spend some time trying on different items. Each participant must try on at least two different outfits that meet the following
- Something that makes you feel fabulous
- Something you have never worn before
- Take pictures of all the outfits in the “photobooth” area.
- In between steps 7 and 8, show the second set of flashcards (of David Bowie) and have the group share what they see and think of each one by using some prompts: How is he challenging gender stereotypes? Is it easy/hard to be different than everyone else?
- Encourage participants to step out of their comfort zone while dressing up, managing any form of negative talk. Take the opportunity to educate on any inappropriate language.
- If you do not have sign media waivers or photo permission forms from any of the participant’s parents/guardians, you may not post images of these participants online or share with anyone outside of programs. You can, however, share the image with the participant’s parent/guardian, granted that the photo does not contain any other participants.
After ending the activity, reconvene for a brief reflection by posing to them some questions like:
- How did you feel wearing those outfits?
- Was it difficult to wear something you’ve never worn before? Why?
- Why did one outfit make you feel fabulous?
- How do you think children’s fashion should change in the future?
Adapted from: Gender Schmender Dress Up!. Grove Community School. Retrieved February 14th 2019, online from: http://thegrovecommunityschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Gender-Schmender-Dress-Up.pdf