A mother’s post about her son’s right to wear a tutu has gone viral.
Jen Anderson Shattuck posted a photo on Facebook of her 3-year-old son wearing a tutu after a man accosted her when they were on their way to a park on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Shattuck wrote that her son, Roo, loves trucks and jigsaw puzzles but also likes wearing tutus. He’s worn tutus to the grocery store, on the train and in the sandbox.
"If asked, he will say the tutus make him feel beautiful and brave,” Shattuck wrote on Facebook. "If asked, he will say there are no rules about what boys can wear or what girls can wear."
Roo's choice of clothing was a nonissue up until this encounter, she said. While she and Roo were walking to a park, they were accosted by a man who demanded to know why he was wearing a skirt.
"He wasn't curious. He didn't want answers. He wanted to make sure we both knew that what my son was doing --- what I was ALLOWING him to do --- was wrong,” Shattuck wrote.
According to Shattuck, he spoke directly to her son, saying, "She shouldn't keep doing this to you … You’re a boy. She's a bad mommy. It's child abuse.”
The man proceeded to take pictures, although Shattuck said she asked him not to. According to Shattuck, he said, “Now everyone will know. You’ll see."
Shattuck called the police. They took a report and complimented his skirt, she said.
After the encounter, Shattuck posted a photo of her son on Facebook, detailing what happened. It has been shared more than 44,000 times and more than 50,000 people have reacted to it.
"Still, my son does not feel safe today. He wants to know: "Is the man coming back? The bad man? Is he going to shout more unkind things about my skirt? Is he going to take more pictures?” Shattuck wrote on Facebook.
"I can't say for sure. But I can say this: I will not be intimidated. I will not be made to feel vulnerable or afraid. I will not let angry strangers tell my son what he can or cannot wear,” she wrote. "The world may not love my son for who he is, but I do. I was put on this earth to make sure he knows it."
As of 4 p.m. Monday, all comments on the post were in support of Shattuck.
One Facebook user Donna Thompson received 174 likes for her comment: “No one has the right to take your son's innocence and shine. It is shameful that some people are so rigid, they try to dictate what others do. You are a wonderful mother for recognizing the qualities that make your boy who he is, and that you protect him from intolerance and hate. He will grow to be an outstanding man.”
Facebook user Lily Klein-Stropnicky commented, “Dear Roo, you are brave and beautiful and the world will not always be kind. But as long as you stay strong and trust the people who love you everything will be ok.”
Shattuck thanked everyone for the support on Facebook on Thursday, Aug. 25.
“We are doing well and continue to go about our normal routine, which is what Roo wants,” she said. “We have not been approached again, but we have a plan in place and will follow it if we are made to feel unsafe in the future.”
She wrote that it is part of the family’s “spiritual practice” to go into the neighborhood on Thursdays to bring joy to people through acts of kindness and generosity.
“Today we feel more strongly than ever that we are called to continue this tradition — to love more, to give more, to keep our hearts open despite the risk,” she said.