Douchebag Decree: Special tabloid gender-panic edition!


Let me just say right up front that I don't expect any of the following from Life&Style, Us Weekly, or any of the other mags barfing their neon coverlines all over the Safeway checkout line: Accuracy, subtlety, reason, nuance, intelligence, imagination, responsibility, or feminism. They're tabloids about Bachelors and Kardashians, and their douchery is as inescapable and unremarkable as traffic in Los Angeles.

But there's everyday Hollywood stupid and there's offensively, egregiously stupid—so stupid that I'm actually almost embarrassed for anyone associated with the product in question. And this week's Life& Style, featuring the wee Shiloh Jolie-Pitt sporting a cute new pixie haircut, is so emphatically the latter that there was no other possible contender for today's Douchebag Decree.

"Why is Angelina turning Shiloh into A BOY?" screams the cover, whimpering in slightly smaller neon-yellow type, "Is it harming the 3-year-old?"

The story inside tells the sobering story of young Shiloh, spotted in Paris with her jetsetting parents,  "sporting boy's clothes and a new haircut so shockingly short it immediately ignited a firestorm of controversy." (Yes, a firestorm of controversy from Life&Style magazine. Parisians were like, "Cute kid. ")

Seriously, that's the story. Shiloh is a toddler with short hair who wears pants. That's all they've got. Naturally, this demands the analysis of a group of superficial randos, including two stylists and a spokesperson from the always-tolerant Focus on the Family. (Not linking to them, because jeez, talk about douchebags.) Says FotF's Glenn Stanton, "Little girls have never been women before. They need help, they need guidance of what that looks like." Oh, how right you are, Mr. Stanton! Let's make sure this poor misguided tot gets to spend some time with a traditionally feminine woman—say, one with long silky hair, pillowy lips, bountiful curves, perhaps even one considered the hottest sex bomb Hollywood's ever seen! But where oh where are we going to find a woman like that for Shiloh to emulate?

But Stanton's is not actually not the most offensive of the "expert" statements. That honor goes to Gili Rashal-Niv, who chuckles, "I get that times are tough but does Angie really need to have Shiloh sharing clothes with her brothers? Hopefully we won't be seeing Maddox in one of Shiloh's dresses anytime soon." Oh, Gili, you wag! We get it — because cross-dressing is disturbing!

Zahara would like you to step the hell off her sister, kthx.

It's reasonable to question whether writers and editors for magazines like Life & Style and InTouch and whatnot are even human and not in fact aliens, given their perpetual shock that celebrities drink from straws, pump gas, and have bodily functions. But if they are humans, they definitely aren't ones who've had much contact with children. As a current parent and as a childhood wearer of severely tangled long hair that was daily torture for my mother to brush, I can say with confidence that there are quite a few compelling reasons why short hair on kids of any sex is not only always appropriate but often preferable: Glue, gum,  food, scissors, ink, branches, other kids' hands, etc. Basically, I'm with The Preppy Handbook on this one: Parents should not be judged for keeping their tots' hair short until they're old enough to take care of it themselves.

And sexuality should have nothing to do with it. The fact that this doesn't go without saying is at the root of what's wrong with this cover story, to say nothing of the coverage in the  likes of Bonnie Fuller's Hollywood Life blog that accuses Angelina Jolie of "projecting" her bisexuality onto her daughter by "cross-dressing" her.

The only thing I find at all comforting about this epically dumb story is the fact that no one seems to be tolerating it. Commenters everywhere from Salon's Broadsheet to CBS News's site to Autostraddle to Fuller's idiotic blog are defending both Shiloh and her parents—and, by the way, why is the onus on Angelina to dress her kids "appropriately?"—and calling out Life& Style for being intolerant, homo- and transphobic, and generally ridiculous. GLAAD has even reached out to the magazine with a statement reading, in part,  "Perpetuating gender stereotypes and targeting children for ridicule about the way they dress is unacceptable, regardless of their parent's celebrity status. Media has a responsibility to differentiate between credible authorities and politically motivated (and usually self-proclaimed) 'experts' like Focus on the Family's Glenn Stanton, who is not an expert on developmental issues or gender identity."

Is it too much to ask that they added a scrawled "douchebags!" at the end?

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

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10 Comments Have Been Posted


First off, there isn't too much else to say about this article; definitely pretty pathetic. Mostly, I just appreciate your reference to Birnbach's "The Official Preppy Handbook," possibly my favorite tongue-in-cheek book ever. Remember..."Prep Sex" is a contradiction in terms. xD


My four year old son wears toenail polish. I didn't realize until just now that I was trying to morph him into the daughter I never had! Thx Life & Style Magazine!

Judging by the way Zahara

Judging by the way Zahara dresses, I'd bet that this style is Shiloh's decision. She actually seems to be dressing a lot like Maddox, so perhaps she's emulating him. Or maybe that's just her style -- kids due start to have a pretty strong opinion about that at her age (my kid thinks he's a cross between a Marvel supervillian and a JoBro). Whatever. So I'd actually give some props to the Jolie-Pitts for letting their daughter dress however she wants, even if it is "like a boy."

Not to mention that one dresses in childhood has NOTHING to do with the child's future gender identity. Chaz, formerly Chastity, Bono was paraded out in frilly dresses on his parents' television show in the 70s, making him presumably a girlie-girl, certainly not a future transman, in the eyes of those watching at the time. Likewise, it's impossible to tell now whether Shiloh will eventually decide to identify herself as a tomboy, a princess or something else entirely. Bravo to Angelina for encouraging exploration of gender roles in childhood and veering away from the pink and blue boxes. (This makes me wonder, though, how she lets Maddox, Pax and eventually Knox express themselves.)

Campaign against this utter b.s.

Hi Everyone,

This is exactly what I was thinking about as soon as I noticed the trend in goss mag headlines-how disgusting is it to see such a widespread support for gender-bias and stereotyping?

Are there any plans to launch a mail campaign (to the goss mags) or even a Day for Leaving Disapproving Posts on Their Blog/Websites? I think that it would put them in their place if they realized just how many people were mad about this.

Thought, anyone?


Has anyone thought about launching a campaign to articulate mass disapproval of this trend? Perhaps a mail or blog/website attack plan? I would be down for a Day of Action against one (or more) of these idiot mags.

I was wondering when this

I was wondering when this Shiloh controversy would show up on Douchebag Decree! My thoughts exactly, Andi.

gender panic

Glad I'm not the only one who thought wtf when I read this. I wish I had more choice in picking out clothing in my younger days. I still very rarely wear dresses or skirts, feels like something is missing. Good on Angelina & Brad for letting the kid wear what she wants. When I saw the comment from the douche from FotF in the magazine, I rolled my eyes & dropped the magazine back down by the toilet. Yeah, that's someone I want to listen to.


I had a pixie haircut when I was little. When I got to be thirteen, I got boobs. One did not seem related to the other. :P

And sexuality should have

<i>And sexuality should have nothing to do with it. </i>

Um, yeah, because <i>she's three.</i>

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