An open letter to Shiloh Jolie-Pitt


Dear Shiloh,

We’ve never met and I’m sure your parents, conscientious as they appear to be, have told you to never speak with strangers. I promise not to offer candy or show up in a creepy van. Cross my heart. But if I may, I’d like to say a few words to you about everything that has happened in the headlines recently.

I’ve waited until the worst of it died down to have a quiet moment. Because what I have to say has nothing to do with selling magazines or courting controversy. I come with no agenda, not even the gay one. I just think that this needs to be said.

Keep being you — not that you had any intention of stopping. You look so happy being you every time I see you out and about. (Though, to be honest, I try not to pay too much attention because the kids of the famous are just that — kids who deserve privacy and room to grow outside of the glare of the telephoto lens). Your organic enjoyment at being yourself is wonderful, wondrous. It’s exactly what every kid deserves.

In a cover story with Vanity Fair, your mom told the magazine that you are “hysterically funny” and “one of the goofiest, most playful people you’ll ever meet.” But your glowing personality is, of course, not what the media has latched on to. Instead it was what she said about you being “like a little dude.”

Shiloh, we feel, has Montenegro style… It’s how people dress there. She likes tracksuits, she likes [regular] suits. She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.

And, wouldn’t you know it, people can’t seem to compute the “She wants to be a boy” part. What does this mean? Does this mean you’re trans? Gay? Confused? No, it means you’re a 4-year-old girl who likes to wear boys’ clothes. Simple as that.

A little while ago, when you first got that adorable haircut, all the tabloids similarly screamed about how your mom was trying to turn you into a boy — as if a haircut could do such a thing. Then there were others who made savage sport of snarking about your look. One day, they’ll look in the mirror and realize they made fun of a pre-schooler for a living. Clothes don’t make the man or woman or the 4-year-old. These are just the external trappings that represent, to whatever small degree, what we feel inside at that moment.

So it’s not just the tomboy duds or the short haircut that makes you you, obviously. But they are important for a couple reasons. 1) They defy conventional gender norms. And 2) They mean your parents have given you the freedom to express yourself however you want.

If only we all had it this way. As a little tomboy (the quiet kind, not the sticks and stones and sports kind), I always chaffed at skirts. I was allergic to ruffles. I wanted shoes with laces. Or, better yet, sneakers with Velcro. So in a way I actually envy your freedom. You probably never have to barter with your mom or dad about exactly how long you’ll have to wear the dress when visiting your grandma.

So enjoy it. Enjoy yourself. Be thankful for your parents. Be happy as who you are, whoever that turns out to be. And, while we’re chatting, where did you get that jacket? I want one.

Sincerely, your sister from Montenegro,
Ms. Snarker

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