I have a twin sister. We shared a womb, a gender and eyes which have been described as "like rugby balls." However, when we were around three years old, my sister declined to wear female underwear, and insisted on dressing in what we Brits refer to as 'Y-fronts' - men's tighty whities. She adopted a male name. I can't remember what it was, but for the sake of this article, let's call her Barry. Barry told everyone she was a boy. She insisted on it, and my parents, smitten by their youngest offspring, bowed down weakly to her fervent, masculine demands. Barry played with Action Men (her favorite was an armless black storm trooper called Steve) and spurned My Pretty Pony. Barry sneered at pink-frills and favored flannel shorts over feminine dresses. Barry sometimes pulled the dog's tail and liked to make mud-patties. Barry's playmates all had peni.
In later years, the damage this indulgence had wreaked was clear. My sister Barry never achieved the dizzy pinnacle of feminine heights that I had climbed. She never, like me, became a stripper and dated abusive crack addicts and suffered from anorexia and an obsession with yoga. Barry went to Oxford, got a first class degree, and is now studying for an MFA in Film at Columbia.
My sister Barry is normal.
Which is why I am totally in agreement with Life & Style's insightful cover story on Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, that shameless little gender-bender.
"Shiloh is pushing the boundaries of a tomboy look and crossing over to cross-dresser territory," Alana Kelen, senior fashion stylist at VH1, tells Life & Style, and I cannot agree more. The female offpsring of stars have a responsibility to their fans and the media machine to develop childhood drug addictions, eating disorders, obsessions with shopping and designer (appropriate gender) clothes, such as high heels for three year-olds. We get plastic surgery, we comprehend body dysmorphia. This is what we, as a public, demand of our starlets. I can only say that it's a disappointment to find out Shiloh Jolie-Pitt's major transgression seems to be boy's clothes.
Let's set it out clear for celebrity parents. We want our female starlets to be:
3. In possession of a DUI before the age of 18
4. Wracked with insecurities and complex psychological problems
6. Lesbian only if they look like they stepped out of a porn movie
7. At the mercy of the dictates of fashion
8. Addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs and / or illegal substances
"Little girls have never been women before," Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at the conservative organization Focus on the Family, tells Life & Style in a breathtakingly astute comment that I urge you to reread to yourself, over and over, because it is genius. "They need help, they need guidance of what that looks like. It's important to teach our children that gender distinction is very healthy."
Why have Brad and Angelina not liposuctioned their child, gotten her hooked on Xanax and given her breast implants already? Her outfit is appalling! She looks so dowdy! What if Shiloh turns out to be... normal?
Or what if the constant negative media-attention from glossy mags desperate to sell copies by ridiculing a child and impinging upon a family's privacy, gives her the kind of issues we seem to demand of female stars for our own crass consumption? Will we be happy only if we see Shiloh with appropriate celebrity-standard problems?
If so, Life & Style have a responsibility to give that kid a crackpipe, a bottle of Oxycontin and quit the proselytizing.