Parents of Baby Girls? It Works Both Ways.

Some parents get really upset when people refer to their baby using the wrong pronoun. Some parents go to great lengths to avoid having their baby girl be mistaken for a boy. They dress them head-to-toe in pink, stuff them into frilly dresses, wrangle bows onto the three or four strands of hair on top of their daughter’s otherwise bald head. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a perfectly adorned coconut?

But this doesn’t only happen to baby girls.

Emory gets referred to as a girl all the time. Pretty much every time we’re out in public someone will say, “What’s your daughter’s name?” And Toby and I laugh because the answer doesn’t do much to correct them. Emory has become such an androgynous name. We joke about new ways of answering the question, like delivering his name with a resounding tenor-like “EMORY!”

Had we known we were going to have such a “pretty” boy, we’d have named him Maximus, Bob, or Texas.

I’ll be perfectly honest, it doesn’t bother me at all that people think Emory is a girl. He does have long eyelashes, big blue eyes, and, shit y’all, he’s a freaking baby. I think we can forgive people for messing that one up. What does bother me, however, is the reaction we get from people if we’re forced to correct them. (Sometimes, we don’t correct people especially if they’re passing strangers whom we’ll never see again.) They act mortified, apologetic, like they called him a sissy on the playground. We reassure them, “It’s OK. He’s just a baby. He doesn’t know.”

Perhaps I should dress him in military garb or stuff his diaper with a sock.

Maybe we should buy him a Hummer.


  1. I don’t find Em to be terribly feminine looking – at least in pictures!

    All the boys I know have thicker, longer eyelashes than I do.


  2. My 13-year old was often called a girl because of his gorgeous curls (evidence here: and he also has an could-be-either name. I never corrected people and once even made up a feminine middle name when someone asked just to NOT make them feel bad.

    But yeah, never phased me at all. And he sure as hell doesn’t remember it.


  3. Zoot, you tease! It’s private. :]


  4. Haha… funny… sock in the pants! When I was a nanny I noticed how people would call my charge, a two year old girl, a boy, even though she was usually decked out in a pink frilly dress a boy. She had short hair, so you can’t blame them entirely, but pink + frilly = boy? I’d hate to see how their parents dressed them as kids! :) I agree, not a big deal, a baby IS androgynous until it develops a gender identity through socialization. A pink shirt does not a girly-girl make.

    Emory is so adorable. SO adorable. I don’t think he looks girly, I think he just looks like one of the gosh darned cutest babies I’ve ever seen (and I don’t say that often!)


  5. an itty bitty hummer! so manly.


  6. Canadian Mommy April 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Honestly it doesn’t matter what you dress them in. We named our daughter Charlie, and so to counter the more commonly used male name I often dress her in head to toe pink ( seriously she looks like a yummy piece of cotton candy when I am done with her). We still get the, “how old is HE” even before they hear her name, ( and after the name it is all the more confusing)I have stopped explaining, and just answer age and name and let them think what they want:)


  7. yes! grace had no hair til she was 2 and was always referenced as my son. what evs. you totally made me laugh at 4am. btw that reo speedwagon song has been in my head for about 3 days.


  8. Sock in the pants…good one! I had the same problem with my boys. It seemed if I had to correct them, people would respond, “Oh, well, he’s just so pretty”. They are babies. There’s nothing distinguishable (is that a word?) about the gender of a baby. Those poor, poor bald baby girls with those elastic bands around their heads…:)


  9. I agree, dressing them in pink doesn’t always scream “girl”…or at least not in my case on a couple of occasions. But it’s not an uncommon occurrence, your little (adorable!)boy being mistaken for a baby girl. My husband had the same problem as an infant and, to this day, my 58 year old father is called “Johnboy” because when he was a baby, my grandmother had to repeatedly tell strangers that he was a boy.


  10. Charlotte was bald for forever, it never bothered me. I did get a giggle when an older gentleman asked what my “little mans” name was while she was wearing a pink dress.

    Also, tell your brother I will be in Beijing for part of the Olympics if he wants to tell us super secret Mihow stories. :-)


  11. Well, he IS a beautiful baby! Looking so grown up there in the swing, by the way. Sad to think they won’t be actual babies much longer—wah!


  12. Or get him a BB gun.

    I was leading a class of 10 year olds once in a lesson on old fashioned school houses, and had to make all the girls sit in the back. I moved one “boy” named Taylor to the front. Turns out Taylor, short haired, denim pantsed, grubby white sneakered and blue shirted Taylor was a little girl. Whoops. And she was 10. I think I scarred her for life.


  13. It’s so nice to hear someone say that it doesn’t bother them. I know a few people who are bothered to no end when their baby’s gender is screwed up by people and I just don’t get it. Who cares? I mean first of all, who cares because it’s a baby and it doesn’t know or care what a stranger thinks of its gender, and second of all who cares what a stranger thinks about your baby, period??!!


  14. i babysit for this little girl, who’s two and a half:

    Jumping Monkey

    and she is CONSTANTLY mistaken for a boy.


  15. OMG! OMG! Walmart trail mix just shot out my nose. Did you just say stuff his diaper with a sock? Bwah! That’s frickin awesome!


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