Girlhood, Interrupted: Angelina Jolie Forcing Shiloh Into Tomboyhood, Overall Deviance

Late-Night “Tomorrow’s News” G-Chat between editors Riese & Laneia:

Riese: [Link to a terrible tragic devastating story that is too depressing to address here but will be addressed in a different post later.]
Laneia: Riese. What do you want me to say about this.
Riese: Wait I found something worse.
Laneia: No. Stop.
Riese: ANGELINA JOLIE IS MANIPULATING SHILOH INTO BECOMING A BOY! It’s true. It’s on the cover of a magazine.
Laneia: I don’t like this world
Riese: I am looking at it right now with my own eyes
Laneia: I want to fold it up. I am done with this
Riese: Also, Shiloh is wearing her Doc Martens the way I like to wear mine and Shiloh’s backpack appears to be some sort of frog/lizard situation. I want one.
Laneia: I want to hide
Riese: Me too, I’m disgusted. I don’t want to live in a world where Angelina Jolie is forcing Shiloh to wear BOYS BOXER SHORTS, she is probably going to give Shiloh a strap-on for Christmas.
Laneia: Nope. Riese.
Riese: What. Are you putting [your son] Eli to bed in a tutu?
Laneia: I am taking another pill. I am worried for me. I think I can’t function.
Laneia: i can’t write about this I want to die.

So basically here’s the deal: Shiloh is, once again, rocking the sporty duds while hanging out with her smokin’ hot philanthropic super-talented bisexual Mom Angelina Jolie and the numbfucks at Life & Style have only one thing to say about this outfit/situation, and it’s not “where did she get that backpack?”

That’s right, it’s time for GENDER PANIC! You know, that thing that people feel when they observe others eschewing the gender binary and/or blithley bending the laws of prescribed gendered behavior without any consideration for the conservative, useless, outdated pedagogy to which the Panickers cling so dearly. The first knight of the apocalypse will probably be Joan of Arc.

Here’s the big scoop from Life & Style, which is almost definitely completely bullshit:

While Angelina Jolie has always insisted she has nothing to do with daughter Shiloh’s controversial boyish behavior, insiders close to the family tell Life & Style that Angelina’s actually the one dressing Shiloh like a tomboy. “She’s been dressing Shiloh in her older brother Maddox’s hand-me-downs, including making her wear boys’ boxer shorts, for years,” the insider tells Life & Style.

“It definitely doesn’t look like she dressed herself,” Children’s stylist Zoey Washington tells Life & Style, referring to Shiloh’s trendy ensemble on Sept. 14 at LAX–an Old Navy Pique Polo boys’ top, shorts brother Maddox wore in 2007 and unlaced combat boots. “Maybe her mom had her stylist throw the look together.”

“Angelina has an idea that each child should have a specific personality that she picked out for them practically at birth,” the insider says. “She’s the tomboy.” In fact, she even gave her daughter a boy’s name. Of Hebrew origin, Shiloh has meanings including “his gift” and “he who is to be sent” and is traditionally used for boys. And she’s come to prefer boys’ names: Shiloh asks to be called John or Peter, Brad once revealed. And a second insider tells Life & Style she’s added the name Gregory to her list.

You may remember in February, when Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s Tomboy Look Scared Media Just Like Ours Scared Our Grandparents and we all admired/felt jealous of Shiloh’s cute outfits and had flashbacks to the fashion-forward gender-neutral duds we sported in our youths.

On March 2nd, we asked Life & Style’s Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Tomboy-Panic Cover is Borderline Offensive: Should We Care?:

At what point does media panic regarding Shiloh’s Radical Androgynous Haircut cross over into Officially Offensive Territory? Do we care that Life & Style’s magazine cover, which screams WHY IS ANGELINA TURNING SHILOH INTO A BOY? (our number one feeling on this topic is “we want her sneakers, we wish our parents had given us such a rad tomboy wardrobe”) is… something-phobic? Is it transphobic? Peter-Panaphobic? Homophobic? Awesomephobic? We couldn’t really care less that it’s the child of our Lady Angelina Jolie, this is inappropriate language to use when talking about anyone’s child!

We felt very vindicated when a mere two days later, we turned out to be rightfully offended:


Gawker hates it, Bitch hates it, hates it, and — and!!! — GLAAD HATES IT! Holler!

In response to all of those criticisms, the best “statement” Life & Style could come up with was:

Life & Style‘s cover story ‘Why Is Angelina Turning Shiloh Into a Boy?’ presents experts speaking from all viewpoints in the debate over Shiloh’s new look, which immediately ignited controversy all across the media. The feature provides our readers with a comprehensive look inside one of the biggest entertainment news stories right now.”

WHAT A ZINGER! Do they have Jenny Craig-fueled robots over there who just spew out that kind of bullshit? I mean just wait ’til Jolie starts binding Shiloh’s breasts and forcing her to take steroids, watch hockey games and say things like “let’s get a beer, bro” while punching Brad on the shoulder, etc.

Angelina has spoken about Shiloh’s style, which is probably her favorite interview topic by now:

”It’s not my choice. I have a very strong willed four-year-old girl who tells me what she wants to wear and I let her be who she is. People look at kids and think they should wear certain types of clothes; I think children should wear what they want and express themselves, so we give them different options of things. Zahara dresses very much like a girl, very pink and flowery, very feminine. Shiloh cried and said, ‘Please cut my hair off, I don’t want to have long hair.’ I’m not going to leave it long because somebody thinks I should,” she says “I want to do what’s in her head and what’s in her heart is to dress like that. I think it’s beautiful.”

[Shiloh dresses] “like a little dude. Shiloh, we feel, has Montenegro style. It’s how people dress there. She likes tracksuits, she likes (regular) suits. She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.”

Oh and since this is about gender issues, Life & Style has tracked down their favorite gender-bender, Thomas Beatie, the “pregnant man,” to give his opinion about Shiloh. Because when your magazine is going to promote transphobia, it’s always good to talk to an actual transman about it first and have him check yourself before you wreck yourself and find out if Angelina is performing gender reassignment surgery in the basement:

When you’re a child, you don’t really have a solid grasp of what male and female are,” Thomas tells Life & Style. “Unless Shiloh actually identifies as being male, she is not transgender. Gender is largely a state of mind, and I’m sure if asked, she would identify herself as a little girl.

Only at age 10, he says, did he begin to realize that he thought of himself as a boy — which is very different from just being a tomboy.

The important thing, he notes, is that parents should never try to force a gender identity on a child, as insiders close to the family tell Life & Style Angie’s doing to Shiloh. “There was a point in my teenage years when my father pushed me toward modeling,” he says with a laugh. “I think it might have backfired!”

Wow! I bet that Beatie is thrilled to see “as insiders close to the family tell Life & Style Angie’s doing to Shiloh.” Lest they actually treat Beatie properly or anything hahaha that would be so weird!

In conclusion, Angelina Jolie remains one of our favorite humans and not just because we imagine how much Jenny Shimizu enjoyed having those lips on Jolie’s you-know-what, but because she lets Shiloh be who she is: a tomboy fashion icon who we’d love to climb trees with.

But don’t worry. Shiloh is prepared to handle you Life and “Style” people, ’cause girlfriend does not travel without protection:

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3183 articles for us.


  1. I just wanna say: I was a massive girly-girl. I wore pink dresses. I had fairy-themed birthday parties. I carried around baby dolls. I put on really bad make-up. I wanted high heels and sparkly, pink diamonds. I wanted to talk on the phone for ages about boys like a big girl. I wanted to paint my nails bright pink and I wanted to be a fairy and you get the picture.
    Clearly, being a conventional girl did not make me straight.

    So what if Shiloh wants to dress like a boy? I used to dress my brother in dresses and he had much fun running around the house is my purple dress, straw hat and make-up of my choice. Of course, if I bring that up now he’ll punch me, but that’s beside the point.

    While clothing is a large part of gender identity, limiting certain types of clothes to one gender is sort of, I don’t know, ridiculous?
    Like, my brother wearing dresses made him no less of a boy. He certainly smells/acts like one.

    So! Shiloh can dress however the hell she wants.

    Also, like, ages ago boys used to wear dresses until they were seven or something when they were “breeched” and got breeches. There’s a photo of my grandfather in a dress.
    This is a historical thing, guys.

    I feel like this comment made no sense/was over-sharing.

    • oh my god we totally had the same childhood. My brother wore dresses, sunhats, nail polish and my mother’s shoes – so did I. And now that we’re in our twenties, he’s straight as an arrow and I’m a total homo. The only difference is that I still wear dresses.

  2. Children really do know as early as 3 exactly how they want to dress. My son informed me exactly how he wanted to dress at about 3. He is all boy and even though I thought it might be nice to encourage a little androgyny and tried different colors and looks on him he was adamant about dressing “like a boy”. So I accepted it. I think Shiloh is very very lucky to have a mom that not only accepts but applauds Shiloh’s independence(plus she looks so cute). As a child I always wore my hair short and loved pants and shorts and hated dresses. I know it drove my mother nuts and was a source of stress for both of us. As time went on I became more andro and actually wore the occasional dress but it was my choice.
    Yay for Angelina!

  3. In general, people think of Angelina as a weirdo with queer tendencies so – of course – they assume that she is forcing Shiloh to dress like a boy. Never mind that Zahara dresses like the girliest of girls most of the time. I keep saying this over and over again but people would be shocked at what their children would choose to wear if truly given the freedom of choice. My daughter describes herself as a “girly girl” and generally dresses the part (with her own twist) but today – for school picture day – she is wearing her brother’s pink dress shirt, black vest and a pair of black velvet pants. She looks adorable and yet I too worry that people will think that I am making her dress like that because I’m queer. Angelina has handled this whole non-issue with grace. I have nothing but respect for her.

  4. They can’t let it go, can they?
    Can’t they focuse on how disturbing it is that Surie Cruise wears heels at her age, which will sure as hell destroy her feet, legs, back, everything? Not that this is any of our business anyways.

    Thinking about this makes a picture of an ex as a little child pop up in my head. She is no butch, but a tomboyish lady, and even as a child she didn’t want to wear girl’s clothes. And then there’s this picture of her at her birthday. Her mother made her wear a dress, but she has a little cowboy hat on her head, plus she’s wearing a pistol belt. Today this picture is hilarious, but that wasn’t one happy girly child, she wanted to be a cowboy goddammit.
    What’s the problem?

    Also, what genius got a “Children’s stylist” (!!) to comment on how children should dress themselves. Ehm. What’s the point of having a stylist then?

  5. Sometimes the complete lack of humanity and the all out greed of these tabloids is just revolting. Targeting a child is cruel. I admire Jolie’s stamina and absolute grace under this kind of pressure. My daughter has identified with girlie clothing, boy clothing and gender neutral at different times in her development. It’s really just about child development and how they become unique individuals. But, writing about truth is boring and wouldn’t fuel magazine sales. Maybe Shiloh likes the comfort, convenience and energy her clothing inspires for her. And I meet plenty of people these days who named their daughters Shiloh. Whoa stop the train people society is out of control. I’d say that it is stellar parenting to create a free thinker versus a conformist. Somehow these tabloids didn’t get the memo “how you dress and who you love someday have nothing to do with each other”. Now, having the courage to encourage one’s child to be their own true self and make individual decisions well…I’d say that is a gift for life that can only help them love themselves.

  6. how does “child stylist” exist as a profession? can we talk about that? i’m going to write a headline about that in yellow all caps. THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS UNEMPLOYED, HOW ARE YOU A “CHILD STYLIST.”

    also h8 gender norms, obvs

    • Exactly, Lies & Style needs to a story on that bullshit. She should be embarrassed.

      And how do they know about her underwear? A little faction known as the police need do a story on that.

      • Props for the new magazine name idea, maybe we should submit it to them?

        “Lies & Style: your guide to confining and harmful societal norms”

  7. I’m going to ignore all the negative BS of Life & Style and other tabloids because the only thing that comes to mind about Angelina’s family is they are too. fucking. cute. All of them. And hot mama and papa.

  8. The year I was four, the entire year, I refused to wear pants, straight up refused, would not leave the house in them, hated them. I’m told it was super cold that winter, so my mom had no choice but to buy me leggings/cable knit tights because, as a little girl, I absolutely had strong opinions about what I wore. And it was not going to be pants.

    And now I sleep with other girls. So there’s that.

    Also, I part-time nanny now, and the little boy of the family I work for alternates between running around in superhero outfits and his older sister’s dresses. Sometimes he wants to be batman all day, and sometimes he asks me to paint his nails. His parents are awesome people, so they’re fun with all of this- he just has to go to school in things he can play in ok. Otherwise, he walk around in a dress with a tie on and his face done in face paint all damn day. Which he loves.


    Four-year-olds are actually very, very opinionated about what they wear, it has nothing to do with anything at all and mostly likely means nothing other than clothes are fun and kids and childhood development stages and blah blah, and all this Shiloh stuff is total crap. Yes.

    Rock on, Shiloh, you look adorable and that is an amazing backpack.

  9. “She’s been dressing Shiloh in her older brother Maddox’s hand-me-downs, including making her wear boys’ boxer shorts, for years.”

    …so, are they accusing her of making Shiloh wear hand-me-down underwear? Has it come to this?

  10. It seems as though the mainstream media just can’t fathom the idea that a little girl might not like pink, frills and sparkly unicorn teaparties. Clearly it must be her mother putting her up to it, suppressing those innate feminine urges.

    I remember being related a story by my mother about how when I was 5 she brought home a lovely white, lacey dress for me and I promptly burst into tears, declaring that I’d never wear it. You couldn’t have torn me away from my gumboots and overalls at that age. Some girls just find their girly-girl side a little later, if at all.

  11. Gender norms are total bullshit.

    Shiloh’s got style I could only dream of having. And the best kind of parents anybody could dream to have: the kind that let her be whoever she wants to be.

  12. I’d like to shake Angelina’s and Brad’s hand (and not just because they’re both smokin’).

    I would have killed to have access to clothes like that when I was a little girl. Hardcore tomboy, all the way, but all I could get my hands on were formless baggy things that only fed into my then serious self-image issues. I’m not saying slick duds like Shiloh’s solve problems of self-esteem, but that they speak to a more nurturing home environment. And look awesome. Which is rad.

    And for the record, I had boys’ names picked out for myself as a child, too. Vince and Derek were popular choices. In retrospect, I think I may have been a budding gay man. Turns out I was just a big ol’ queer tomboy who identifies quite happily as a woman.

    Which is to say, fuck Life & Style.

  13. “It definitely doesn’t look like she dressed herself,” Children’s stylist Zoey Washington tells Life & Style, referring to Shiloh’s trendy ensemble on Sept. 14 at LAX–an Old Navy Pique Polo boys’ top, shorts brother Maddox wore in 2007 and unlaced combat boots.

    1. Why is there a need for a child stylist?
    2. It DEFINITELY looks like Shiloh dresses herself.
    3. I like the way Shiloh dresses and I like her sword. I use to want a bow and arrow and a chakram when I was little.

    In fact, she even gave her daughter a boy’s name. Of Hebrew origin, Shiloh has meanings including “his gift” and “he who is to be sent” and is traditionally used for boys.

    1. Oh yes thats where it started. Because I have NEVER heard of a girl with a boys name.
    2. I think pretty girls with guy/unisex names is really cool.

    (Puts on white coat, shines glasses, grabs a pipe)
    As an Angelina Joliologist of 6 years I firmly support and accept Angelina Jolie’s reasoning behind allowing Shiloh to dress her self, be herself. Angelina has always.. beyond anything else, despite everything else, been pro-individuality. Molds, stereotypes, conformity, expectations are just not concepts she believes in. It is this attitude that people either love or hate about her. She is very queer in every/the best sense of the word.

    NyJa Stevenson, Aj D

    • Ha You’re hilarious. And in return for wearing a horrible dress for a couple of hours on Easter morning, my parents gave me an AWESOME Nerf bow and arrow when I was about 6 years old.

      • Your welcome. I am here Sunday-Saturday, available for any discussions, informing, idolizing, internet stalking and counseling on Angelina Jolie that you might need to do.

        That does sound like an awesome gift. Like, I never played Barbies. I always wanted to be some kind of warrior. I had fake swords. I wanted a Chakram. I had moon crescent wand. I was fighting evil by the moonlight when my sister was playing house with Barbie and Ken. I am straight. She is bi…so….yeah

    • Oh I totally wanted a bow and arrow and a chakram when I was little too and my awesome dad made them for me! He also made a kickass leather mini xena outfit that I would wear out like all the time… It was AMAZING!

      • That’s so cool! I also wanted scythes (sp)! I love weapons, except guns, hate guns and bombs. Non automatic weapons, I like non-automatic/non-technological weapons.

  14. Let me tell you a story, Life & Style. When I was nine I dressed androgynously, had my hair cut off, told everyone I was a boy named Brian and became really familiar with “it” and “shim” as epithets. You’d be wrong to assume from this that my mom chose my “boy” clothes or that I’d grow up and identify as a trans man. It will probably be the same with Shiloh, but if it isn’t, it’s seriously not the end of the world.

  15. I think the big to-do is mainly because of who the parents are…ever since Brad and Angelina had a baby girl–TOGETHER, WITH BOTH OF THEIR GOD-LIKE GENETICS OMFG–the gossip mags were just waiting with bated breath to pronounce her the most beautiful girl-child on EARTH. But stop the presses! She dresses like a boy! Oh nooooo our fantasy for the Jolie-Pitt daughter is RUINED, RUINED!!

    Um, but how fucking amazing is it that the two hottest people on earth gave birth to what appears to be the best-looking tomboy (and future lesbian? fingers crossed!) I’VE ever seen ;)

  16. I have 2 feelings:

    1) I’m kind of bummed out that a 4 year old wears way cooler clothes than me

    2) When I was about 1-2 years old my sister put me in a dress and I cried so much that I threw up. On the dress.
    In conclusion: kids know what they like and what they don’t like from a really young age!

  17. All of this fuss that the media’s sharing over Shiloh is just too much. Her gender is not determined by the clothes that she wears, so she can wear whatever the hell she wants.

    I hated dresses when I was a very little kid, and continued to hate them up through high school, but now I love them! Our fashion choices change as we grow and mature, and I love Angelina Jolie for listening to her child’s desires, especially if Shiloh is actually voicing them. That’s called HEALTHY PARENTING, BITCHES!

  18. What Life and Style is trying to say but won’t out and out print, cause they know they will get tons of shit for it, is that they are horrified at the possibility that Shiloh will grow up to be a lesbian or (gasp!)transgender because she dresses like a boy. I’ve seen the jokes on both ends, from straights and gays, that Shiloh bats for the other team. She is a fucking three years old! Grow up and stop projecting your fantasies on to her and I am talking to everybody!

  19. Shiloh’s so cute. I don’t get why the media tries to paint Angelina as a wicked lady. She prob just dresses that way bc she loves her big brothers & wants to be like them. It’s not a big deal. I doubt Angelina tries to mold her kid’s personalities to match her fantasies, that’s laughable.

  20. What I find so frustrating is how much people (ie. the type of people writing these articles ie. way too many people) don’t actually get the fact that we have CREATED these gender norms. What makes a dress and long hair ‘feminine’ and pants and short hair ‘masculine’? We do! There isn’t some rule in nature where XX = pink. It’s like everyone magically forgets the periods in history when it was normal for men to wear robes/dresses/skirts.

    I know i’m not exactly bringing up anything new or exciting in this current context, but it’s really driving me crazy how hard a concept it is to grasp for so many people. Also I spent a lot of time arguing this point to my mother recently so it’s all a bit fresh. GAH.

  21. let me take some to answer the most pressing question in this whole debate…Where did she get that awesome backpack?
    It’s not a green lizard/dinosaur…its Brobee a character from the a tv show for kids on nickelodeon called Yo Gabba Gabba! i bought the same backpack for my little niece at journeys kidz but you can get it on the show’s official website. if you havent seen this show you totally should, its about a dj in a neon orange spandex suit and fuzzy orange hat and his friends (crazy creatures that pop out of a magic boombox). it features awesome musical guests, the ting tings, the shins and mgmt…doing songs like “don’t run with scissors” and “party in my tummy”. there was a live yo gabba gabba performance at the last coachella and it was the most fun i’ve had in a while. felt like a little kid again dancing around in the desert but with more drugs and booze involved.

  22. Oh my God. So I’m reading this in class, decide to listen to the discussion for a second and OUT OF NOWHERE we’re talking about girls who want to wear boys clothes. in Media Law. WHAT. But people are being gross and all gender norm-y in my class, so I’ll stick with Autostraddle.

    Also: dear autostraddle, i want to have your babies. I promise I’ll let them dress however they want, like…baby Doc Martens or tutus or both.

  23. Even if she does “pressure” Shiloh to wear ‘boys’ clothes’, how is that any different than pressuring her to wear feminine clothes?! Life & Style’s a bitch, they’re playing it off like the focus is on the pressure when it’s really on GENDER PANIC!


  25. How did I miss this article? Man I envy this kid – sure I liked jeans and stuff as a kid, but fashion hadn’t recovered from the ’80s yet so everything was pretty much terrible. Therefore walking by racks of kids’ clothes nowadays gets me angryjealous – where were these awesome clothes when *I* was growing up? I stand by the vests of my youth though.

  26. Pingback: THE MOST CAKE » Blog Archive » The Week in Gay News: why Ellen is our Shining Beacon of Hope, why most of the gays on TV are vampires & my how we love Beth Ditto

  27. This article, when I flipped through it at the grocery store, made me so sad. I even had a few dreams about it.

    I just have so many feels. I don’t want to label anyone prematurely, but I would not be at all surprised if it turns out that Shiloh is trans. And I want her to be supported – by her parents, by her siblings, by the media, by the queer community, by everybody – and it’s unlikely that all of that will happen (although I think her mother and the queer community are likely to be supportive – GO ANGELINA!)

    That said, I was SUPER GIRLY as a young child (I cried, apparently, if none of my dresses were clean – at the tender age of 5), and now I’m trans. Like, I had a really unfortunate outfit prepared for a job interview yesterday and my roommate had to lend me a girly button-up and a sports bra (pink). I looked good, but I didn’t look like myself and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable in my clothes or with my appearance. Although I’m rarely comfortable with my appearance these days (not on T + round face + hair growing out [too poor for frequent haircuts] = way too girly looking for me).

    Sorry, sorry, TMI.

    But anyway, Shiloh. I’m rooting for her. (Him? Them?)

  28. Pingback: Vested Interest | Up Popped A Fox

  29. Pingback: normalising enslaved sows | Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar

Comments are closed.