Identity is a confounding mix of perception and instinct. It’s easy to say, “Be yourself,” but it’s much harder to ponder what self truly means. Insecurities abound, social complications arise, and expression becomes a tightrope of butch vs. femme.
And all of these dynamics collide during the shared nightmare known as high school.
Growing up queer can be treacherous, but adolescence is also a whirlwind of anxiety for young women, people of color, and anyone who doesn’t fit the restrictive norms dictated by the powers that be. That’s why allies are a gift from the gay gods. We love it when straight people stand up for what’s right, especially when they do so while wearing cute dresses.
Zach Paulin is a student at Collège Nouvelles Frontières in Gatineau, the fourth largest city in Quebec, Canada. He is a model citizen, so when he proposed to rage against the dress code at school, his classmates took note.
After recording a Snapchat story urging his friends to wear skirts to class, Zach was shocked when the post went viral. Over 100 boys arrived on the day in question donning tartan garments. It was a sea of bare knees and great intentions.
As Paulin stated in his interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “Basically, it’s the fight against everything from toxic masculinity to the sexualization of women. So, it’s really an intersectional gender fight that we are doing right now.”
In his subsequent Instagram post, Paulin elaborated, “The fact that a boy wears a skirt is a sign of resilience, solidarity and support.”
Zach’s Insta-manifesto continued, “The double standard on the way society views our women and men is blatant; if a woman decides to wear a suit or pants, clothes associated with masculinity, it’s not a big deal. But the moment a man will do anything remotely feminine, whether it is to put nail polish, makeup or in our case, a skirt, fingers are pointed and he gets insulted. People will say that he’s not a « real man » and they will automatically assume his sexuality.”
Reaching a crescendo of enlightenment and inclusion, Paulin’s post declared, “We’re in 2020, we should be open-minded: and all fight to end discrimination, homophobia and sexism. That’s what our skirts represent. Thank you.”
No, thank YOU, Zach. We applaud your bravery and we are totes jelz of your style.
Photo: Instagram @_zachpaulin_
Last modified: October 29, 2020