A mother has called attention to the ways that strangers treat her daughter differently when they mistakenly assume that she is a boy.
Siera Bearchell, a former beauty pageant competitor who was named Miss Universe Canada in 2016, spoke candidly about the differences in how male and female children are treated by society in a new TikTok.
In the video, uploaded last week, Bearchell began by explaining to her followers that the realisation that gender norms impact the ways her daughter is treated and spoken to “blew her mind”.
Bearchell then revealed that, when her daughter is dressed in clothes that aren’t “pink or a dress,” people typically assume that she is a boy - and speak to her differently.
“I don’t care that people think she’s a boy sometimes… But what I care about is that I realised people talk to her completely differently when they think she’s a girl versus when they think she’s a boy,” the mother-of-one continued, before claiming that the majority of the time that people identify her daughter as a girl “they always comment on how pretty she is, her dress, how she’s so beautiful”.
However, according to Bearchell, when strangers assume that she is a boy, they will compliment the child on her speed or strength.
“When they think she’s a boy, they will say things like: ‘Wow, you’re so fast!’ or ‘You’re so strong, look at you go!’” Bearchell claimed.
In the clip, the former beauty contestant revealed that the interactions have been happening since her daughter was a baby, with Bearchell continuing: “So before our kids can walk or talk, we are telling them, that as girls, the most important things about them and the most important things that people notice is how they look and how they dress.
“As boys, the most important thing about them is their actions and what they do.”
While Bearchell acknowledged that there is “nothing wrong” with commenting “on the looks or clothing of little kids or babies because they’re always so cute,” she said that people need to focus praise more on other characteristics of young girls, so that they grow up knowing that they are more than just their looks.
“I do believe that we need to comment more on the strength and the actions of little girls because they need to know that they are more than pretty,” Bearchell concluded.
The video has since been viewed more than 10.8m times on TikTok, where viewers have praised Bearchell for calling attention to the topic, while also revealing that they have experienced the same phenomenon in their own lives.
“I love this so much. I tell my boy that he is handsome daily, and I remind my daughter how smart, kind, brave and beautiful she is! Our words hold WEIGHT,” one viewer commented.
Another said: “Yes! My parents intentionally did this and it 100 per cent helped my confidence and self-worth.”
“Interesting! I’m going to be conscious of my language when talking to little ones,” someone else added.
The Independent has contacted Bearchell for comment.