Growing up is hard to do

This story is Inspired by Jamie Vesta's 'Genderquake' over at Eves Rib, and in particular,
the post titled "You'll Wear What You're Told To Young Man"

Peter’s childhood was relatively normal; he played army with his friends, climbed trees, had a train set and loads of action figures and liked nothing more than his trusty old jeans with a hole in the knee, a zip up hoodie and his thoroughly worn in trainers.

His mother, Helen is an architect and his father worked part time in a biscuit factory. Helen often told her husband that he could give up work as her wage alone could easily support their family, but he was proud to work and wished he could get more hours and maybe even a promotion. But with more women in the boardroom, more women get promoted and as such, Peter's dad had been stuck on the shop floor for years whilst his mother's career went from strength to strength. When Peter was seven years old his father became permanently stuck to the shop floor when a section of racking collapsed, tragically killing him on the spot. Ever since that day, Peter has been raised solely by his mother.

With the support of his family and teachers, Peter faired relatively well with the loss of his father. The nearest thing Peter had to a father figure in his junior years was Ron Blakely; a widower in his fifties. Mum called him the handyman but mostly he Hoovers and irons, dusts and washes up. He used to be a proper handyman but as the work dried up for him, he diversified into a more domestic realm as that was one area which the women weren’t taking over. Even then, Ron found it hard to earn enough to support himself as more and more men were being laid off, leaving them plenty of time to tend to such chores. “In my day they used to call 'em kept men … if a bloke didn't have a job he was a sponger, too lazy to work ... these days they call 'em stay-at-home-husbands and it's supposed to be a good thing... times change lad... times change.” Ron said to an eight year old Peter.

Ron had to give up working altogether due to ill health and since then the ironing and laundry has been done by an agency; run by women, worked by men. Between the two of them, Peter and his mother kept on top of the hoovering and dusting.

Peter's mother gave him the freedom to strive to be all he could be and encouraged him to try his best, “Even if you're not very good at something, your best is good enough.” she used to tell him.

Like most boys, Peter had an average academic record and like most boys, Peter sat towards the back of the class. In order to provide a solid education for the brightest kids, classrooms are ordered with the highest marks towards the front and the lower marks towards the back. Peter didn't feel bad about always ending up towards the back of the class as low marks weren't really frowned upon if you were a boy. However if a girl ended up in the back half of the class, she'd be given a level of help and attention that the boys never received. Of course there were some boys who were up there with the girls in the first three rows, but no more than a handful. Girls were simply better at school work and as such, their prospects are of far greater importance. The shift from male to female dominance in the workplace meant their was little need to push the boys towards academic excellence.

Peter was in his final year of junior school when he first heard the phrase Genderquake. He didn’t know what it meant, but like earthquake or starquake, it sounded exciting. He asked his mother what it meant and was unimpressed by the reply. “It simply refers to the fact that more women have jobs than men, that women get paid more than men and that more men stay at home and do the housework than women. Not so long ago it was quite the opposite.”

“I thought it was going to be like an earthquake or something.” Peter said. He recalled being equally unimpressed when he found out what a 'skyscraper' really was. He’d heard the phrase previously and visualised a huge machine, towering above cities, trundling along on giant caterpillar tracks and literally 'scraping' the sky... so realising it was just a tall tower block was a bit of a let down... anyway...

One day Peter comes home from school and tells his mother that there was a boy at school wearing a girl's dress. “I don't think that's true Peter.” his mother said.

“Honest mum it is true..” Peter insisted, before naming the boy and describing the dress he was wearing. “We were teasing him but the teacher told us we mustn't.”

“Well it's not nice to tease people Peter, you know that.” his mother said. “Now, are you certain he was wearing a girl's dress?” she asked.

“Er.” thought Peter, “Well, yes... it was a dress, like girls wear.”

His mother grinned before informing him that “Not many girls wear dresses these days Peter... and they do make them for boys too.”

“What?!?!” Peter thought. “Boy's don't wear dresses.”

“Well you know one boy that does." his mother states matter-of-factly. "And I'm sure he was wearing a boy's dress and not one made for a girl.”

The concept of dresses for boys was as new to Peter as it was most people. His mother was only aware of the changing fashion due to an article on Radio 4's Woman’s Hour a month or so previously. Like many boys, Peter was adamant that he'd never wear a dress, and his mother was fine with that. Many people figured the trend of dresses for boys would, like most fashion trends, disappear as quickly as it came. Although seeing boys in dresses was a rare sight, the pages of many women's magazines were home to plenty of adverts and articles; either promoting or discussing the trend.

This side effect of the genderquake didn't snowball into something massive overnight, but it didn't burn out and fade away either. Over the following year or so the trend just seemed to trundle on, wallowing in its mediocrity, a bit like a punk rocker; we still see one occasionally but they don't shock or offend any more, they just 'are'.

Of course there were signs of this inevitable side effect; but only in hindsight. As girls began almost entirely wearing trousers for school, boys gradually began wearing trousers of a similar style; being Lycra and tight fitting down to the knee, then flaring into a boot cut. This led to VPL issues for boys and as a result, underwear with an invisible hem became available for them. 

When fashion veteran Jean Paul Gaultier introduced the reverse shirt; a formal shirt for men with a flat front, split collar and buttons up the back. It broke decades of traditional front fastening shirts being the only choice and quickly gained a firm foothold in mainstream male attire. 

Around the same time, boy's and men's t-shirts adopted the ruffled hem, which was re-branded the 'ruff & ready' hem. Yet another subtle indicator of what was around the corner was the ubiquity of boys and men having both ears pierced.

It wasn't too many years ago when the seaside resorts of Brighton, Bournemouth and Torquay introduced by-laws making it an offence for men to bare their chests in public places. This, for the most part didn't include public swimming pools but most certainly applied to beach fronts, promenades, shopping precincts and public parks. This legislation proved popular amongst the moral majority and soon spread inland before being covered by national decency laws. Whilst most men simply complied and kept their shirt on, some began wearing crop tops, strappy tops, halter necks, cami-style vests, even boob-tubes and skimpy bikini tops were adopted in order to get maximum exposure without risking a fine for indecency.

Peter and his mother were on holiday with his Aunt Jo, Uncle George and cousins; James and Michael, aged nine and thirteen respectively. Peter couldn't help but snigger when James wore a pretty dress for a day to the seaside. Michael wore his boy clothes but did admit to having a couple of dresses too.

“I don't like them!” Michael insisted. “But I have to wear one when mum wants me to look nice.”

Peter, now twelve-and-a-half is flabbergasted. “Even if mum did buy me a dress... I wouldn't wear it... no way!”

Michael is somewhat surprised that Peter doesn't have one, “I think every lad I know has at least one dress.” Michael states, “But most of them don't like having to wear them.”

“I'm not surprised. I think it's pretty rotten making you wear something you don't like.” Peter replies.

“Yeah I suppose... James likes them.”

“I noticed.” Peter replies, glancing at James who walks with Peter’s mother, chatting away. “I'd hate to dress like that all the time.”

“He doesn't wear them all the time.” Michael says, defending his younger brother.

Later, they stop for a bite to eat in a seafront cafĂ©. Peter's mother says “Doesn't James look nice in his dress Peter?”

“I guess.” Perter replies as he thinks the exact opposite.

“So have you got many dresses Peter?” Aunt Jo asks. She is genuinely surprised when he tells her he hasn't got any. “Why not?”

Peter shrugs, “I don't like them.” he replies.

“Well neither does Michael but...” she turns to her eldest son, “'ll wear one occasionally won't you?”

Michael gulps and nods.

“I keep thinking about buying George one too.” she adds, casting a smile at her husband.

Uncle George claims he's too old. “Dresses are OK for boys, but not grown men.”

He is accused of being a stick in the mud, before his wife points out that in ten years time both James and Michael will be grown men, and there's a strong likelihood that most men will be wearing skirts and dresses by then.

Peter’s mother agrees with her sister-in-law, but adds, “I couldn't imagine George in a dress.” Before saying that she could imagine Peter in one. A look of horror sweeps her son's face at this revelation. His mother casts him a smile. “Don't worry Peter... I’ll only buy you one if you want one.”

“Phew!” thought Peter.

“Why don't you come shopping tomorrow with James and I tomorrow?” his aunt suggests, turning to her youngest and smiling. “You could try a couple on to see if you like it... you never know.”

“Erm....” Peter stammers, looking nervously from his aunt to his mother, then to his young cousin. “I'd rather go fishing with Uncle George and Michael... if that's OK?”

“Of course Peter.” his aunt smiles. “But you can't fight progress... all boys are going to find themselves in dresses sooner or later... and you're no exception.”

The following day, Peter, Michael and Uncle George go fishing. Peter's mother, aunt and James go shopping. They browse aisles and aisles of dresses in the boy's department and James tries so many on he gets dizzy.

Aunt Jo points out a number of styles that would be perfect for Peter, but his mother thinks it should be his decision. She tells Helen that she just went out and bought their first dresses and made damn sure that they wore them. “Both were dead against them at first.” Jo explains glancing at her son, “James, clearly loves them now, and Michael reluctantly accepts them... if I tell him to wear a dress he'll wear one.” she adds. “He probably won't like it but...”

Oh Jo that's I bit mean don't you think.” Helen says to her sister-in-law.

I don't think so... was it mean when our mother's insisted we wore a pretty dress on a particular occasion?” Jo asked. “I mean...” she added, cocking her head, “...the old, because we're girls argument doesn't wash any more.”

I know I know you're right.” Helen replied. Her eyes flicked across rows and rows of dresses. “I'd have to fight him into any of these...” she said, removing one and admiring it, “...and if it does turn out to be a passing fad, I'd worry that he'd hate me forever.” she said, replacing the dress. “I think it's best to leave it up to him and... see how things pan out.”

Believe me, this isn't a passing fad.” her sister-in-law replied. “Its been going on for years, but it's only in the last year or two that it's gained mainstream exposure.

Meanwhile on the fishing trip, Michael has gone to the toilet, leaving Peter and his uncle alone. His uncle says “Your aunt is quite surprised that your mother hasn't bought you a dress yet.”

Peter asks his uncle if he thinks 'all boys will be in dresses eventually' as Aunt Jo claimed the previous day.

“You know ten years ago, I’d have loved to have been a boy again.” Uncle George reminisces, “But these days, I don't envy you.” he reluctantly admits. “My honest answer is yes. If I thought for one moment it was just a passing fad, I’d never have let your aunt put my boys in dresses... but times are a changing lad, and they don't look so bad in them.” he adds. “You'll get used to it.”

“It just seems so unfair... I mean,. It's OK for James because he likes them, but Mike doesn't and he still has to wear them sometimes.” Peter says.

“Well from time to time we all have to wear something we don't like.” Uncle George glances down the track to make sure Michael isn't in earshot. There's no sign so he turns back to his nephew and says, “But Michael likes some more than others.” Uncle George says, “I expect you'll get your turn soon enough lad, and it won't be as bad as you think.”

“I hope not.” Peter replies.

When they return to the holiday cottage, James shows off his new frock and Peter is relieved that his mother hadn't decided to buy him one anyway... a thought which had lingered in the back of his mind all day long.

Over the course of the week long holiday, James wore a dress most days. Michael wore one of his on two occasions; the day they visited Crickley Hall and the evening they went to a posh restaurant for a slap up meal. Of course the subject of boys in dresses and the genderquake came up on many occasions. Peter’s mother continued to feel that dresses for boys was just a passing fad and would all be in the past before long, but his aunt felt quite the opposite, and rather eloquently explained how the roles of males and females were being irrevocably reversed.

Uncle George takes the boys for a day of go-kart racing on the last full day of their holiday... it's one of the few days James wears traditional boys clothes. As Helen and Jo wave them off, Helen says, “It seems strange seeing James in jeans... I’d got so used to him wearing one of his dresses.”

“He wears them often enough.” Jo replies, “He loves his frocks but if he thinks he might get one dirty he'll sacrifice a pair of his old pants instead.”

“So... how did you go about it, when you bought them their first dresses?” Helen asks. “Do they choose their own or do you always buy for them?”

“At first I just bought them one each and insisted they wore them... they were both reluctant, but once it was on, James took to it like a duck to water. Michael was more hesitant, and still is... but after I’d bought him 3 or 4 really prissy dresses, he soon decided to become more proactive in choosing his own, and believe me, he'd much rather wear a dress that he'd picked over one of my choices.” she explained. “Are you thinking of taking the plunge with Peter?”

“Well... if it doesn't turn out to be a passing fad, I suppose I’ll have to sooner or later... I just want to do it properly and avoid traumatising him.”

“I really don't think he'll be 'traumatised' if you buy him a dress... it's only an item of clothing.” Jo replies. “I read an article in Good Parenting magazine about parents' starting their boys off lightly; buying say a plain blue frock to start with, and gradually working them up to prissy pink party dress.”

“Well that sounds logical.” Peter's mother says.

“I may sound logical but it doesn't work like that... if they hate the plain blue frock than the likelihood of them even accepting the more prissy styles is virtually nil.” she replied, “The best bet is to start them off with a really pretty frock, all satin and bows and frills; preferably in pink or peach... once he's worn that a few times, you'll have no problem putting him in something a little less fussy.”


Over the course of the next six months, Peter's mother takes more of an interest in the genderquake, and its potential consequences for her son. She'd read articles about changing trends in magazines; about men becoming the underdog, boys becoming like girls used to be and the future of the male role in both society and the home. One article in particular grabbed her attention; Putting Boys in Dresses the Easy Way, which described a variety of approaches. Lower him in slowly with the occasional Sunday dress, present a routine with a skirt for school and 'traditional' boy clothes the rest of the time, or throw them in at the deep end and take away all of their old-boy clothes. The article concluded by weighting up the pros and cons of the different methods, but stressed the necessity clearly enough, an uninitiated boy will never find a decent wife to support him.

Peter and his mother are shopping and notice the mannequins of boys wearing dresses in shop window displays are becoming more and more ubiquitous. They go into a department store and notice that the boys department is now half dresses, and the girls department has only a tiny selection of skirts and frocks. It hardly seems like a year since the first small selection of dresses for boys was introduced to the high street.

“Why are we going down here?” Peter asks as his mother takes him into the dress section of the boy's department. She insists it's just for a look, and that he just might see one he likes. He insists he won't, but that doesn't stop her from holding a few against him.

An assistant approaches and knowingly asks if they're shopping for his first dress. His mother says they just looking. Peter says he doesn't want one, and draws her attention to the new pair of jeans and t-shirts he's got. The assistant smiles and says and in a friendly, diplomatic manner that it won't be too long before he'd have to go to the girl's department for those... “And you wouldn't want to buy clothes from the girl's department would you?” she smiles, before pointing out a candy pink Lolita dress and tell his mother that this is a good 'starter'.

“Yes, so I understand.” his mother replies. “It is very nice... but also very expensive.. especially since he doesn't like dresses.” she adds. Peter is relieved to finally leave the store with just his new jeans and t-shirts... but is becoming increasingly worried about the future.


The days weeks and months slips by. One Saturday afternoon, Peter is out with his friends whilst his mother spends the afternoon reading the paper with Radio 4 on in the background. On hearing an article about the genderquake being introduced, she puts down her paper and turns up the volume....

Presenter: “it was barely three years ago when John Lewis' introduced their first range of dresses for boys, bringing the trend out of the backstreet boutiques of the larger cities to the high streets of towns and cities of all sizes … we've been speaking to the marketing director of Debenhams, who’s new TV ad campaign for their new range of boy's dresses has already caused controversy … ”

Guest: “It's simple economics, little girl's no longer dream of being a princess, they want a career, a house, a car, children and a husband. We've all seen it in our daughters and nieces for decades, they're just not interested in being pretty any more! Ask yourself, when was the last time a little girl wanted a My Little Pony, a Tinker Bell duvet cover or a Disney Princess DVD? If anybody can remember those things. ... The fact of the matter is, we have dresses, we know how to make dresses and I think as a society, we like dresses … they're not going away ... what I'm trying to say is ... now that girls on the whole don't wear dresses, it makes perfect economic sense to market them to the boys instead .. and nobody can argue that they're not catching on.”

Presenter: “What started in the children's department is now, albeit slowly, making it's way to the men's department, with skirts, frocks, heels and hosiery now widely available in, amongst others; Burton, Top Man, Greenwoods... sales are reportedly and understandably slow.” … “Do you think it's too much for most men? Is this why sales of such items are practically non existent?”

Guest: “Of course it's too much for most men... today. But in spite of the rumours that 'all boys hate dresses' and 'it's their mother's playing dolls', many boys love their dresses, they love being pretty, and those boys are going to grow up, so it's essential that Debenhams and the chains you've mentioned are there for them.”

Presenter: “so, the future... in say fifty or eighty years time, do you think boys will be playing with dolls and dreaming of being a princess?”

Guest: “ [laughs] Well they'll certainly be playing with dolls because that's essential for learning child care... dreaming of being a princess? ... a prince maybe, but it'll be a prince in a beautiful long gown with long gorgeous hair waiting for a princess to come to his rescue.”

Presenter: “Total role reversal?”

Guest: “Exactly.”

Presenter: “Well that concludes Weekend Woman's Hour for this week, I’d like to thank Jayne Peterson of Debenhams. We'll be back at 10am on Monday when we hear from 12 year old Laura who's part of a dying breed: the girlie girl.”


As Peter’s birthday neared, he got more and more excited about becoming a teenager... thirteen sounds so much cooler than boring old monosyllabic twelve. However his enthusiasm ebbed when his mother told him that she'd decided the time was right to buy him his first dress. “But I don't want a dress mum... you know I hate dresses.”

“But lots of boys wear dresses Peter... you want to fit in don't you?” his mother argued.

“No they don't.” Peter insisted, knowing full that those who did wear dresses were a definite minority.

“Oh come on Peter you know they do... you said yourself that there's three boys in your class who wear skirts.”

“Yeah, and like ten others who don't.” Peter insisted.

“And next term it'll be five against eight, then half and half. The way things are going, this time next year you'll probably be the only one left if you wore trousers.” she explained.

“What do you mean if I wore trousers?”

His mother became a little nervous and made a few false starts. “Well... once you er... erm... well...” she stopped and started again. “What I'm trying to say is, once you've got used to wearing dresses...”

“I promise you... I won't!” Peter insisted.

“Of course you will.” she replies. She then goes on to explain about some of the articles she's read. “Now I'm not saying this is going to be easy, and I understand why you're fighting it. Any boy would. But you have to understand that it's a women’s world now... we wear the trousers.”

“But why should that mean that I have to become a girl?” Peter retorted.

“You're not becoming a girl love... the roles are reversing... now it's your turn to be pretty.” she smiles. “And believe me Peter, it's nowhere near as bad as you think it is.”

“I'm sure it will be.”

“Well you'll never know until you've tried.” his mother smiled. She made him a drink and placed it on the coffee table for him. She picked up one of her magazines, flicked through it and found 'the page' then passed it to Peter. “I know you won't like any of them, but have a flick through anyway... see if there's a best of the bad bunch eh?”

The images in front of Peter horrified him. Dresses for boys his age are like dresses for 8 year old girls used to be; all frills and ruffles and lace and bows. Page after page he went, hating each and every one of them. As a result, he offered his mother no help in choosing his first dress.

It was three days before Peter's birthday when his mother proudly stated that she'd bought him his first dress. He tried his best to get out of trying it on, but his mother insisted, claiming that if it was the wrong size she'd have to take it back. So reluctantly Peter wore the dress, hoping with all his being that it would be the wrong size and therefore returned.

“That's perfect.” his mother said, stepping back and looking him up and down. “How does it feel?”

Peter looked down at himself, clad in pink satin with a big white bow. “Horrible. Can I take it off?” he asked. “Pleeease.” he added. His mother said he had to try his new shoes first, and much to his displeasure, presented him with a pair of pink satin pumps and thin white ankle socks.

Once fully dressed, his mother stepped back and smiled at him lovingly. “You're going to look so nice on Sunday.” she said, before planting a white ribbon on his head.

Peter gulped and looked at his reflection. “I'm not wearing this on Sunday mum.” he said. “It's my birthday and all my friends...”

“...will be wearing dresses too.” his mother interrupted.

“No they won't! None of my friends wear dresses!” he insisted.

“Peter darling... I put a dress code on the invites stating that boys must attend wearing party dresses.”

Peter claims she's going to ruin his life, that none his friends will come and they'll think he's turning girlie... but his mother tells him that Simon's mother and John's mother have already replied, and they will be attending in dresses, as will his cousins James and Michael, and Nigel from down the road.

"You'll wear what you're told to young man!"
Courtesy of Jamie Vesta
“But, I don't want to wear a dress mum... you know I don't... and definitely not a pink one!”

“You're thirteen Peter and you'll wear what you're told to young man!” she insisted. “Times are changing and it's high time you started dressing your gender.” she spouts. “When was the last time you saw a girl wearing a dress?”

“Loads of girl's wear dresses.” Peter replied as he pondered his mother's question. “Like er...” he visualised all the girls in his class, “Joanne King.” he said, knowing she was the only girl who still wore a skirt, and the other girls give her grief for it.

“Well she may well still wear a skirt for school, but does she wear dresses too?” his mother asked.

Peter hung his head. “Maybe.”

“Peter.” she said calmly, placing her hands on his shoulders and thumbing the satin sleeves. “I understand that you're instinctively fighting this... but the fact of the matter is, boys wear dresses these days... you only have to walk in to any department store to work that out.”

Peter slumps on his bed, and is warned by his mother not to crease his dress. He asks if he can take it off and she lets him. He pulls on his pants and t-shirt as his mother puts his dress on a hanger and places it in his wardrobe. From that moment on, Peter dreads his rapidly approaching birthday and the dress he'll be wearing for the party.


On the morning of Peter’s birthday, his mother makes him a special breakfast and lets him open his presents... he gets a book and a DVD, a couple of music CDs, a rather humiliating Hello Kitty bath set, containing bubble bath, shower gel, soap, shampoo, conditioner, a pink puff and a couple of bath bombs. And last but not least, he unwraps another party dress; virtually identical to his pink one only in blue. “Another dress?” he hesitantly asks.

His mother tells him that she'd overheard him in his bedroom, “Wishing that I’d bought you a blue one instead.” she smiles.

Peter tidies up the wrapping paper and takes his frock and other gifts to his room before running the bath. As the tub fills, his mother enters with his Hello Kitty bath set. She removes the lid from the bubble bath and pours a little under the tap. As the bubbles begin to foam a pungent smell fills Peter's nostrils. “What's that smell?” he asks.

“It's it's nice isn't it?” she replies as she agitates the surface, creating even more bubbles.

“I don't like it.” he replies. “It smells like perfume.”

“Well you'd better get used to it Peter because after your bath, you'll smell exactly the same.” she says as she lines up his new Hello Kitty toiletries on the side of the bath.

“I'm not getting in if I'm going to smell like that.” Peter moans.

“Peter I'm getting a little tired of your constant moaning. If you're going to act like a child I’ll treat you like one.”

This spurs a minor tantrum from Peter, which his mother counters by threatening to cancel his birthday party. “Instead I’ll take you shopping for a new school skirt which you will be wearing tomorrow and everyday after that.”

With that, Peter concedes and steps into the bubbles. His mother plunges the pink puff into the water before squeezing some of the shower gel onto it. She then proceeds to bath him whilst Peter protests he's old enough to bath himself. “Like I said Peter, if you're going to act like a five year old I'm going to treat you like one.” she says as she proceeds to wash his body and hair.

Once his mother is satisfied that he's clean, she leaves him alone to dry himself off. Peter sniffs his skin and screws his nose up as the fruity scent fills his nostrils. He wraps the towel around himself and returns to his bedroom where his mother and his party dress are waiting for him. She passes him his new 'nice' underpants, which for all intents and purposes are a pair of girls knickers with lace trim around the waist and legs. They're blue to match his dress, as is the vest he pulls on. His mother runs the towel through his hair before brushing it. “Mmm... you smell beautiful Peter.” she says. “Are you ready to try your dress on?”

Peter gulps and looks at his dress. He sulks then nods. His mother smiles and picks it up before pulling down the zip, seemingly in slow motion. She holds it open whilst Peter reluctantly steps in to it and pushes his arms through the short sleeves. His mother turns him around and slowly pulls up the zip, before turning him to face her. A broad smile beams down on him and he feels himself blush. 

His mother places a headband in his hair with a large white satin bow attached, before digging deep into her pocket and removing a tube of lip gloss. “Open.” she says as she waves the wand close to his chin. Peter moans about the 'lipstick', but she tells him it's lip gloss. He drops his jaw and she carefully applies it. Once done, she steps back and grins. “I should have done this years ago.” she says. “I think boys were born to wear dresses... it's a wonder it took us so long to realise.”

Image adapted from an original
by Jamie Vesta
Once Peter has his shoes and socks on, his mother takes him to her bedroom so he can see how he looks in her large mirror. “Doesn't it look delightful?” she gushes.

Peter gulps as he takes in his reflection. “I can't believe you're making me wear this on my birthday.” he says before begging his mother to let him wear something else.

“It's a party dress Peter... and you're having a party... it's perfect.” she replies. “But if you really don't like it..." she says as he becomes visibly hopeful, "...there's always the pink one if you prefer!” Peter looks back to the mirror and decides to keep the blue one on. 

“I thought you might.” his mother smiles knowingly. “Now you've got to be very careful not to get any cake, chocolate, juice or jelly on it... otherwise you'll have to wear the pink one.” she states.

Come the party, only two of his six friends invited from school turn up, both wearing party dresses. His cousins James and Michael come too, also in pretty dresses. One of the boys from down the road who often wears dresses is also invited, along with a few girls from the neighbourhood, none of whom wear dresses.

Each of his guests give him a birthday card and almost all of them would have been perfect for a girl only a decade ago; butterflies, bows, flowers and cute animals in pink, purple and lilac shades. Each of his guests also bears a gift, but these are for after they've eaten.

The 'tea-party' style buffet is hugely uncomfortable for Peter. He's never seen his two school mates in frocks before and although he's glad they came, he'd hoped they wouldn't. After some enquiring from the grown ups, Simon admits he has a variety of dresses, whilst John reluctantly tells them it's his first one. His mother had bought it specially for the party and he's clearly just as uncomfortable as Peter.

After the jelly and ice cream, Each of Peter’s guests give him their gifts. Thankfully they're all good for a boy and not girlie things like his mother bought him. Then, his mother says she's got one more surprise for him, and presents an unexpected gift. Peter reluctantly opens it, hoping it's not going to embarrass him. Having a big white ribbon tied around the pink and purple spotted paper he quite rightly fears the worst... but as the paper comes off, his fears are put to rest. “A Nintendo Wii3... WOW!!!” he exclaims as his guests pull similar faces of excitement. From that moment on his dull sissy party became round after round of video bowling, tennis, racing games and the like... Peter almost forgot he was wearing a dress... almost.

Once the party was over and all his guests had gone, his mother asked if he'd enjoyed himself. “Yeah! The Wii3 is awesome.” he replied, adding a 'thank you'.

“Well I'm glad... and wearing a dress isn't that bad is it?”

Peter screwed his face up. “Well...” he looked down at himself. “I'd have preferred it if I’d worn my pants.”

“Then you'd have been dressed like one of the girls.” his mother smiled before saying, “Plus once you were playing your video games you'd forgotten all about your dress.”

“No because when I was bowling it kept getting in the way.” he replied, miming the action to demonstrate how his voluminous skirt gets in the way.

“You soon managed to work around it.” his mother grinned. “And you did get plenty of strikes.” she reminded him. “And next time you wear it you won't feel quite so self conscious.”

“Next time?” he frowned.

“You didn't think you'd only have to wear it today did you?”

“Erm.... yes.”

She grinned and shook her head at his ignorance. “I didn't spend a fortune on dresses only for you to wear them once Peter.” she told him, before explaining that she wanted him to wear one every Sunday. Peter moaned but his mother warned him. “Some boys have to wear them everyday Peter, so think yourself lucky it's only once a week.” she asked him if he understood and he nodded. “Come on, I'm sure you're just dying to get out of it.” she said with a smile.

He follows her to his bedroom and suspects something as she pauses at the door. “Your Auntie Jo has one more birthday surprise for you.” she says before gesturing him inside. Instead of one of his usual duvet covers, his bed is clad in a new one; baby pink with butterflies on it. “Isn't it lovely?” she asks. Knowing it's a gift from his aunt he has no option but to appear grateful. “There's some new jim jams under your pillow.” she tells him.

Peter hesitantly lifts the pillow to reveal a pair of pale purple pyjamas with frills here and there and flower shaped buttons. “Are these from Auntie Jo too?” he asked

“No they're from me.” she replies. “I thought you'd prefer jim jams to a nightie.”

“Oh mu-um!” he moaned as his cheeks blushed to a deep rouge. “You're turning me into a girl.”

“On the contrary Peter...” she replied as she picked up his new pyjama top, holding it by it's short puffed sleeves, “...I'm turning you into a boy. Girls don't wear things like this any more.”

When Peter awoke the following morning, he thought for a split second that he'd had the most peculiar dream. But as he pulled his eyelids open and his vision cleared, he realised it was all real. Sitting at the kitchen table wearing his girlie pyjamas was humiliating beyond belief, but that was nothing in comparison to the reception he got at school. He was teased by many of his classmates for having a sissy birthday party and no matter how much he wished, he could not deny that fact.

One of the girl's asked him what colour his dress was. “Blue.” he replied. Then she asked him if he liked it. “No!” he retorted. “My mum made me wear it!”

“And good for her!” his teacher said in a loud voice. “Like it or not boys... we're living in an age of change and before long you'll all be in skirts and dresses.”

As most of the boys were yet to be introduced to the new trend, they denied that day would come. But Peter, along with a handful more had first hand experience of how the times were changing and quite rightly believed otherwise.

As usual, his mother asked him if he'd had a nice day at school. Peter said it was OK but added that some of the boys teased him about his birthday party. His mother insisted they were simply jealous because they can't wear pretty dresses, but this, Peter could not believe.

He went to his room to change out of his school uniform. His heart sank when he opened his bedroom door. “Why this is supposed to be acceptable for boys I’ll never know.” he thought as he sat down on his new pink duvet cover with it's frilly lace trim and butterfly pattern. On his pillow his mother had neatly folded his new frilly lilac pyjamas ready for tonight.


The following weekend, they go to visit Peter’s granny. Peter was fine with this until his mother tells him that he'll be wearing his pink dress. Peter pleaded with her to let him go in his boy clothes. “I don't know how many times I have to tell you Peter.” he mother stated, “Dresses are boys clothes these days.”

“But please mum, not the pink one... can't I wear my blue one instead?”

“Well you wore that for your party last week.” his mother replied. “I didn't buy it just to hang in your wardrobe.”

“But... I’ll wear it next week, please can I wear my blue one?”

His mother sighed impatiently. “Peter.” she said sternly, “Pink dress, whether you like it or not.. I'm sure your cousin Michael doesn't sulk and moan every time he has to wear a dress.”

“Ohhhhhhh!” he exclaimed before taking his pink dress off its hanger. Once he was dressed his mother told him how nice he looked, before completing his outfit with a pink headband. “Do have to wear a headband too?” he asked.

“Well you want to look nice don't you?” his mother replied.

“Not really.”

“Well I want you to look nice.” she stated as she arranged his hair around his headband. She then told him to close his eyes before spraying his entire head with hairspray.

“What's that?” It stinks!”

“It's to keep your hair in place... so make sure you don't touch it.”

It was an hours drive to his grandmother's house and Peter felt like a meringue as he sat in the passenger seat with his petticoats piled on his lap. His grandmother told him he looked very pretty, but added that it was very strange seeing boys in dresses instead of girls. “I think it's a shame that girls don't wear dresses any more... I used to like wearing dresses but your mother never did.” his grandmother reminisced. “I had to fight her into a dress every time I wanted her to look nice.”

“Just as I'm having to battle Peter in to his.” his mother replied. “It's worth it though, he does look adorable.” she added, before showing her mother some photographs from his birthday party the previous weekend.. “You remember James and Michael?” she said, pointing them out. “And these are two of Peter's friends from school, and that's Nigel, a boy from down the road.”

“Oh my... they all look so nice.” his granny said as she flicked through the photographs. “Well now is as good a time as any to give you your birthday present.” she said, pulling a bundle of gift wrapped parcels from besides her chair. “I do hope you like them.”

Peter said thank you as he took the bundle; wrapped in pale pink paper with a bright pink bow around each parcel. He untied the ribbon of the first and smallest gift before removing the paper.

“Oh that's very nice!” his mother said as Peter unwrapped a nightdress. It was white with pink trim and came with a matching pair of knickers. “You haven't got a nightie have you?”

Being in polite mode, Peter thanked his grandmother and told her that he liked it very much, before unwrapping the next gift. This time it was a pair of white satin slippers, each with a single pink bow. Peter forced a smile and said thank you, before unwrapping the final gift; a pale pink dressing gown with white trim that perfectly complemented his slippers and nightie. Again, Peter did the right thing and said thank you.

His granny said he was welcome, and added, “It's a good job you like pink isn't it.”

Peter wanted so much to put her straight, but that would have been rude. He is after all wearing a pink dress with pink shoes and has a pink headband in his hair, so he can hardly start claiming otherwise. Peter just smiled and blushed.

“So what else did you get for your birthday?” she asked.

Peter told her about the Nintendo Wii3, the books and CDs he'd been given, along with the bits and bobs his guests hade given him. And with a little prompting from his mother, the blue dress he wore for his party, his pyjamas, his new duvet set and the Hello Kitty bath set which made him smell nice. “She must think I'm such a sissy.” he thought as he pretended to like each and every one of them.

Granny couldn't stop looking at her grandson. She'd never seen him in a dress before and in her day boys were positively discouraged from wearing dresses, even if they wanted to. “The poor thing looks just as uncomfortable as his mother did when she was a girl...” his grandmother thought, “...she hated looking pretty and wearing dresses in equal measure.” As far as his grandmother was concerned, dresses were just something pretty that girls wore, but for his mother they were at best humbling and at worst humiliating. Quite when they became considered a symbol of subservience his grandmother wasn't sure, but that shift in perception was responsible for them slipping out of popularity with her daughter's generation... that she was sure of.

On the way home, Peter’s mother complements him on his behaviour today. “I think Granny was pleased that you'd worn your dress for her.” she says. “And didn't you get some lovely gifts?”

Peter looks at his lap, clad in pink satin which almost levitates above his legs thanks to the petticoat beneath. “I guess... It just feels weird being given girlie stuff all of a sudden.” he replied.

“It's not really girlie stuff though is it.” his mother replied, “You know that.”

“You know what I mean though.” Peter replied. “Granny said when she was young only girls wore dresses and boys didn't. Even if they wanted to they couldn't because only girl's wore dresses.”

“Well... your grandmother is from a time when women were subservient to men. Girl's didn't wear dresses because they were girls, they wore them because they were subservient.” she explained, “And now that men are subservient to women, it's your turn.”

“Hmm.” Peter groaned. He'd heard the reasoning behind it so many times but it still wasn't right or fair. “Why can't we be sub-si... sub-ser...”

“Sub-ser-vient.” his mother corrected.

“...subservient and wear pants?”

“Because pants don't look as nice.” she said in a matter-of-fact tone, “...and it's important to look nice because when you're older you'll need to find a wife to support you.” she adds.

“I could support myself.” Peter replied.

“It's getting harder and harder for men to support themselves Peter. There's not many jobs for them and those there are aren't well paid or full time.” she explained. “Even university graduates struggle to get anything better than an admin job, the best you could hope for would be domestic service... or a wife with a decent career...”

Words like graduate, admin and domestic meant little to Peter so his mother's words went in one ear and out of the other. He just wondered why something so weird was supposedly so normal all of a sudden. “At least it's only once a week.” he thought as they pulled onto the driveway.

As Peter went to open the door his mother said “Not yet Peter, I’ll let you out... you did it all wrong at granny's.”

“Eh?” Peter thought as his mother jogged round to his side and opened the door for him. “Now you don't just climb out as if you're wearing pants Peter.” she said, before explaining that he should keep his knees and ankles together and twist on his seat, “Then put your feet down and...” she watches him alight the car in the proper manner, “...very good.”

“Why do I have to do it like that?” he asked.

“So nobody sees up your dress.” his mother replied with a grin.

“Oh.” Peter replied as his mother unlocked the front door. “Can I change?” he asked the moment he was inside.

“It's Sunday Peter, you wear a dress on Sunday's and that means all day.” she reminds him.

“It wouldn't be so bad if it was my blue one.” he sulked.

“Oh but you look so nice in pink.” his mother teased before planting a kiss on his forehead.

A few hours later it was bath time and Peter was finally allowed out of his Sunday dress. Unfortunately for Peter his mother suggested he tries on his new nightclothes. He complained that the nightie was too short, but his mother said, “That's why it comes with knickers.”

“I know but...” he looks at his reflection and raises his arms, which in turn raises the nightie which in turn, reveals the frilly knickers that come with it. “You're not supposed to see them.”

“It's fine.” his mother insists. “It's supposed to be short because it's a summer nightie... come winter I’ll buy you a longer one.”

After school the following day, Peter writes his grandmother a thank you letter. With his mother's guidance it reads:

Dear Granny,

Thank you very much for the nightie, slippers and dressing gown. I slept in the nightie last night and it was very comfortable. The slippers are a perfect fit and the dressing gown is really snug and warm. 

Lots of love, Peter.


Over the next couple of months, Peter’s mother buys him a couple more nighties and 'nice' pj's, along with another 'nice' duvet cover. His old plain pyjamas are a thing of the past, as are his old duvet covers. He soon gets accustomed to sleeping in pink just as much as he gets used to wearing his Sunday dress. His mother extends his wardrobe with a third satin party dress, this time in peach, along with a yellow gingham prairie style dress and a few more packs of 'nice' underpants and vests to wear with them.

One day after school they go to visit his Auntie Jo, Uncle George and cousins Michael and James. Peter is surprised to see that Michael is now wearing a skirt for school, and his aunt is equally surprised that Peter is still wearing pants. Peter’s mother tells Michael that his uniform looks nice, before gushing over James who's hair is now in ringlets.

It's such a lovely evening that they decide to go and eat out “There's a lovely pub by the river.” Aunt Jo suggests before telling her sons to go and put something nice on.

Peter’s mother says “I'd have brought one of yours if I’d known we were eating out.”

“Well he can borrow one of Michael’s, they'll be about the same size.” Aunt Jo suggests.

Peter tries to get out of it, but soon finds himself climbing the stairs to his cousin's bedroom to borrow one of his dresses. “Come in.” Michael calls after hearing a knock on his door. Peter pushes the door open to find his cousin sitting at his dressing table tying a ribbon in his hair, wearing only his underwear. Peter apologises and begins to exit. “It's OK Pete... I am decent.” Michael says as he stands up.

Peter is embarrassed and doesn't know were to look. Michael is only wearing a short white slip with lace trim and thin white tights. He removes a dress from a hanger. “Do you want to borrow a frock?” he asks as he steps into his dress.

Peter gulps. “Well... I don't want to but... mum insisted.”

Michael pushes his arms into the sleeves of his dress before opening his wardrobe. “Help yourself.” he says as he reveals a resplendent display.

“Don't you have any boy's clothes any more?” Peter asks, realising his wardrobe is end to end skirts, blouses, jumpers and dresses.

“Well...” Michael begins apprehensively as he fiddles behind his back to fasten his zip, “...I suppose technically I’ve got a wardrobe full.... Mum got sick of me dressing like a girl all the time so got rid of all my pants.”

“Don't they realise that pants should be for us and all this stuff should be for girls?” Peter retorts as he stares into the wardrobe.

“Well it used to be like that... but not any more.” Micheal says, “Can you see anything you like?”

Peter is both overwhelmed and uninspired by the options before him. Michael pulls out a variety of frocks, but Peter can't make his mind up. With his cousins growing impatience, Peter finally settles on a navy blue frock with pale blue details. Michael pulls open one of his drawers and removes a pair of tights. “Here you go.” he says, passing them to Peter who recoils at the sight of them.

“Can't I just wear socks?” Peter asked.

“Tights look much better though.” Michael replies, “Plus they're a bit more grown up than socks.”
A borrowed pair of ballet pumps are on Peter's feet as he follows his cousin to the kitchen where his mother, Aunt Jo and young cousin James are waiting. James wears a prissy lilac frock and is clearly happy to do so. “Well you two look nice.” Peter’s mother says, glancing from Michael’s brown plaid frock to Peter’s navy blue one. Her eyes drop to Peter’s feet, then to his cousins. Michael wears a pair of black low heeled court shoes with white tights. “Those shoes are nice Michael.” she says, glancing back to her sons shoes and socks. “Don’t you think that dress would look better with tights Peter?”

“I said that but he insisted on socks.” Michael interjected.

After a short discussion, Peter returns to his cousin's bedroom accompanied by his mother. She opens Michael's sock drawer and pulls out a pair of tights, before instructing Peter how to put them on. As he does so, his mother glances around her nephews bedroom; from the impressionist print of a ballet dancer in a tutu on the wall to his dressing table bearing perfume, deodorant, moisturiser, headbands, hair clips and several bottles of nail varnish.

A few minutes later, Peter re-enters the kitchen wearing a pair of white tights in place of the socks. His mother follows, saying, “I hope you don't mind Michael but he's borrowed one of your headbands too.”

Michael doesn't immediately reply as Auntie Jo is applying his lip-stick. Once done, Michael hops off the stool and checks his reflection in a small mirror. Peter’s jaw drops a little as he glances from face to face. Both James and Michael are now wearing eye make up and lipstick. Aunt Jo smiles at Peter and asks, “Are you ready?”

Peter looks down at himself and nods shyly. “Come on then.” his aunt says, patting the seat of the stool.

“I thought you meant am I ready to go.” Peter says as he reluctantly sits on the stool. His aunt tells him what to do and where to look as she applies a little eye liner, mascara and eye shadow around his eyes, before putting a pale pink lipstick on his lips.

“Now you're ready to go.” his aunt smiles.

Peter’s mother notices that one person is missing. “Is George coming?”

No... he's been transferred to the cleaning department so he won't be home 'til late.” Aunt Jo replies.

Peter isn't happy with the fact that they walk to the restaurant instead of driving, and it seems to take ages. His mother, aunt and cousin James walk ahead. “So when did George get transferred?” Helen asks her sister-in-law.

“A couple of weeks ago.” Jo replies.

“I thought he would have told me.” Helen says. “He is my brother after all.”

“He's not too happy about it... the company have been restructuring over the last few months and he was given the choice of a redundancy or a transfer.” she explains. “And we can't really survive on just my wage so he had to take the transfer. It's less pay, but it's better than nothing.”

“That's probably dented his pride a bit... does he work every evening?”

“Morning and evening on a five 'til eight split shift, six days a week.” Jo states.

“I thought we'd have seen him.” Helen says, knowing they arrived no later than three thirty.

“Well... to be honest it has dented his pride. He knew you and Peter were dropping in and decided to leave a bit early.”

“Why on earth would he do that?” Helen asked, feeling more than a little offended that her own brother had actively avoided them.

“He has to wear a uniform and he's not quite ready for you to see him in it.”

“Oh I see.” she says, realising the obvious.

Her sister-in-law describes the plain 'domestic' frock her husband now wears for work, along with the tabard he wears over it. “It's having to wear tights and heels too that he's really struggling with.” Jo adds.

“Hmm.” she says trying to visualise her brother. “It must be hard for him... but the world is changing.”

“It is... and for the better.” Jo replies. “Michael wasn't happy when I took his last pair of trousers... but it's only fair, if his father has to wear a frock for work then he should wear a skirt for school.”

“Yes... I'm still toying with how to get Peter to wear one. We have a kind of deal where, if more than half the boys in class are wearing skirts then he should too.” Helen explains.

“Just buy him one and be done with it.” Jo suggests. “He'll spit and shout and curse but... it's not his decision. It was only a couple of weeks ago I finally put a stop to Michael dressing like a girl.”

"And how's he getting on?" Helen asks. 

"Well... how do you think he's getting on?" Jo asks. 

Helen turns around to check on her son and nephew who walk a few yards behind. “They do look pretty.” she observes.

“Yes... like proper young men.” Jo smiles.

“You're being quiet Pete.” his cousin Michael says as Peter hasn't spoken a word since they left the house.

Peter tells him that he feels really weird being dressed 'like this' in broad daylight.

“I thought you'd have got used to it since your birthday.” Michael replies, assuming that Peter is now wearing a dress on a daily basis.

“Not outside though.” Peter gulps. “I have to wear a dress every Sunday and I'm not going to leave the house if I can help it.”

“Why not?”

“Der...” Peter retorts, “Because I'm wearing a dress!”

Michael empathises with his cousin and reminisces over his transitional period. “When it was only once in a while I used to hate wearing them, unlike James...” he explains glancing down the lane toward his younger brother; his ringlets and ribbons bouncing as he intermittently skips to keep up with the adults, “But then mum decided I had to wear a skirt or dress all the time.”

“What? Just like that? No Pants!.”

“Well...” Michael continued, “I talked her into letting me wear my school pants, which was a fair deal I guess.”

“So how come you started wearing a school skirt?” Peter asks. “I thought you'd be the last person to give in.”

“Mum just decided a couple of weeks ago.” Michael shrugged. “You know how they are... this idea that wearing pants is all of a sudden dressing like a girl.”

“Tell me about it.” Peter agrees. “Even if mum did buy me a school skirt I’d still wear my pants whether she liked it or not.” he defiantly added.

“That's what I thought until one day I didn't have any pants.” Michael replied. “Once I'd got my head around the fact that skirts and dresses are in fact boys clothes, it's not so bad.” Michael says. “Call me weird but I don't really miss my pants any more.”

“You're weird.” Peter teases. “I don't think I’d ever get used to dressing like this all the time.” he adds, looking down at himself. “...and these tights are itchy.”

“They look nice though.” Michael states. “And they don't itch if you shave your legs.”

It's late in the evening when Peter and his mother arrive home. Peter is back in his school pants and his mother says “Well that was nice wasn't it? I wasn't expecting to be taken out for a meal.”

Peter confesses that he wasn't expecting that either. “You know Michael hasn't got any boy clothes at all now!”

“You mean pants?” his mother replies as her son nods. “They're hardly 'boys' clothes these days.” she reminds him for the umpteen-millionth time, “And you looked lovely in his dress... I might buy you one like that.”

Peter admits that he liked it more than any of his own dresses, but isn't quite so sure if he'd want one of his own. “I couldn't believe it when I had to wear make up too!”

“You didn't waste any time jumping on the stool.” his mother grins. “And you've not exactly rushed to wash it off either.”

Peter blushes and gets up to wash it off, but his mother talks him into keeping it on until bedtime.

The following day Peter returns home from school and hooks his bag on the back of a chair, before making himself a drink. As of today, there are now five boys in his class wearing skirts leaving eight, including himself who continue to wear pants. Some of the boys who do wear a skirt are such sissies; with their pig-tails & ribbons and fluffy pink pencil cases. Others clearly wear their skirts under duress and carry a look of shame wherever they go.

Of late, Peter has been getting bullied by some of the girls for not wearing a skirt, which isn't nice. He's not the only boy they bully, but since his birthday party and the dress that went with it, he's been targeted. There's nothing weirder than being told you're dressing like a girl by simply wearing pants. “I've always worn pants!” he'd retort, “A couple of years ago we never wore skirts or dresses.” he'd claim, just before a knee whacked his groin. It doesn't happen everyday and sometimes not even every week, but in Peter's mind, it's better than wearing a skirt for school. He's not alone as other boys get the same treatment. The teachers are fully aware but being an all female staff (apart from the cleaners), they simply feel the targeted boys are just making life hard for themselves. He hasn't told his mum because she'd just use it as an excuse. He's determined not to give in and end up wearing a stupid skirt everyday for school. Wearing a dress every Sunday is bad enough!

The following Monday, Andrew Carter turns up in a skirt. It looks like he's been drugged, transformed then hypnotised as he was one of the least likely to comply with modern fashions. The girls gave him a round of applause when he entered the form room that morning. The previous Friday he was a typical scruffy lad with unkempt, uncombed hair, old baseball boots, baggy pants and an oversized jumper, over a badly tied tie and an un ironed and probably unwashed shirt. Today his hair has been washed, untangled, straightened and cut into a short, sharp bob. He wears a fitted blouse with his tie tied short and smart. A fitted jumper leads the eye down to his short pleated skirt, beneath which emerge a pair of slim smooth legs. On his feet is a pair of heeled lace up brogues. He walks confidently, takes his reception gracefully and sit at his desk displaying a confidence hitherto unknown to him. Everything about his appearance is perfect, and he clearly knows it.

Peter’s a liberal. If Andrew Carter, unlikely as it may seem wants to go sissy that's fine... and at least he does it well. In the eyes of the girls he's shot from zero to hero with his new look. On the one hand Peter thinks good on him, it's a huge improvement on the distant, dishevelled demeanour he had last week, but on the other hand... it means there's now six boys in skirts and seven in pants. Peter ponders the loose 'deal' he made with his mother and hopes it's slipped her mind. For if one more boy gives in, thus tipping the balance, Peter has to wear a skirt too. Hopefully she's forgotten all about it. He hopes. Hopefully. Hoping.


A couple of weeks later, Peter and his mother are in town and passing Debenhams, his mother points out the window display. “Those dresses look nice.” she says. “Shall we have a look inside?”

“Do we have to?” he asks. To date his mother has bought all his dresses on her own and the last thing Peter wants is to stroll up and down aisles of boy's dresses with her.

“Well you could do with another one, and it is about time you started making your own choices” she says as she pushes the door open. “I know you don't always like what I like.”

Peter and his mother walk down numerous aisles of dresses, skirts and blouses. His mother pulls out the usual prissy sissy pink, purple and peach frocks but Peter doesn't want one of those. “I've got loads of party dresses.” he claims.

“Peter you've got three.”

“Four.” he corrects.

“Your prairie dress isn't a party dress.” she tells him, “That's a summer dress.”
He gives up. Why do mothers come out with stupid 'splitting hairs' statements like it's not lavender it's lilac. It's not a party dress, it's a summer dress... “It's a DRESS!!! They're all the same!” he internally rages. But walking down aisles and aisles he realises they're anything but all the same. Short sleeves, long sleeves, bell sleeves, puffed sleeves or no sleeves at all. Straight, a-line, pleated and circle skirts. Vest tops or spaghetti straps, even strapless frocks in all the colours of the rainbow. Soft cotton or shiny satin, soft velvet, floaty chiffon, Lycra or canvas carrying all kinds of prints. The choice is overwhelming.

Occasionally he points out something he doesn't mind so much, something really plain... but his mother turns her nose up at them, claiming they're the types of dresses cleaners wear. “I want you to look nice, not plain.” she says, scanning the racks. “Oh they've got school wear here. Maybe it is time you started wearing a skirt.” she said, admiring the selection of a-line, knife pleated and box pleated skirts in black, blue, grey and green.

“I don't want to mum.” Peter replies as his mother lifts a short pleated skirt from the hook.

“You're going to have to at some point love... surely most boys in your class are wearing skirts by now.”

Peter tells her that still less than half the boys in his class are wearing skirts, so she asks him how many. “Er.... six wear them and seven don't.”

“Well that's near enough for me.” she says as she holds the skirt against him. “come on, lets see how it looks.”

“Oh please don't mum... please!” he pleads as she heads towards the changing rooms.

“Oh stop being a baby Peter. I'm sure Michael didn't play up like this when he got his first school skirt.”

Peter concedes. His mother waits outside the changing room, looking at the nearby styles whilst he tries on the skirt. After a few minutes she asks if he's ready yet and peeps around the curtain. Peter is just fastening the zip. He's decent enough so his mother pulls the curtain wide open. “That looks nice.” she says, ramming her fingers down the waistband to make sure it's got some growing room.

“Mum can you close that!” Peter snaps, trying to shut the curtain.

“Well there's not enough room for both of us and I want to make sure it's right.” his mother replies, opening the curtain as wide as possible. She steps back and says “That looks long enough don't you think?”

Peter looks in the mirror and says it's really short.

“It's a school skirt Peter, it's supposed to be short.” his mother states.

“But...” Peter looks at his reflection again and sways his hips. The pleats swoosh from one side to the other. He turns to look at the back a sways his hips again. “...people might see my undies...” he says fearfully.

“Well you'll just have to make sure you don't wiggle your hips like that.” his mother grins. She tells him to take it off and draws the curtain again.

Peter wastes no time in removing the skirt and fiddles to clip it back on to the hanger. Just as he's done it, the curtain opens again. “Mu-um!”

“Let's see how this fits.” she says, passing him a dress she's found.

“I don't like it.” he says as she passes him a green frock.

“Don't give me that Peter you pointed it out before.” his mother states. “There's beige or blue if you prefer.” she says, drawing his attention to the rack dead opposite the changing room.

Peter looks at the one in his hand, then to the rack. “Er... this'll do.” he gulps. He did after all point it out earlier, but it was supposedly too 'domestic' for his mother.

His mother takes the school skirt before closing the curtain. Whilst she's waiting, an assistant approaches and asks if she needs any help. She tells her that her son is trying on a dress, and that she's buying him a school skirt. “They're on 3 for 2, as are the blouses.” the assistant says.

“Oh I didn't realise.” his mother replies. “I'll go and get some more when he's changed.”

The assistant offers to get them for her. “Does he need blouses too?” she asks before conforming the size. When the assistant returns, the changing room curtain is wide open once more and Peter is turning this way and that so his mother can get a good look at the dress. “It's a very popular dress that.” the assistant says. “Most boys prefer a shirt style frock to the back fastening ones.”

His mother turns to the assistant and smiles. “I must admit it looks much nicer on.... do you like it Peter?” she asks

“Er....” he groans, looking back at his reflection. On the one hand he hates it purely because it's a dress, but on the other hand it's far better than his other four dresses. He's ashamed to admit it but says “It's OK I guess.” he replies. “At least I can fasten it myself and it's got pockets.” he adds, plunging his fists into them.

“Well in that case we'll take it.” his mother smiles. “Take it off Peter then I can pay for it.”

“He can keep it on if he likes.” the assistant suggests. “We try to encourage our boys to leave the store wearing their purchases, so much so much so we offer a third off.”

“A third!” his mother quizzes. “Really?”


“Please don't mum.” Peter asks in utter horror.

“I thought you liked it?” his mother asks.

“I don't want to wear it now though.” Peter gulps, glancing vaguely towards the outside world. “...and definitely not out there.”

“But it's 33% off if you do.” his mother replies. “At £35 it's quite expensive but at...” Her eyes roll upwards as she does a little mental arithmetic, “...£24 it's a good buy.”

Peter looks back at his reflection, fearful that he may well end up spending the rest of the afternoon in town wearing it. “But... I can't wear it with my trainers.” he says. “It'd look silly.”

“Well you could do with some new shoes for school anyway... so you don't have to wear those.” his mother retorted.

The assistant smiled at the petrified boy, then turned to his mother. “Before you decide I’d better point out that it's a third off your entire bill, not just the cost of the dress.” she says.

“Oh well in that case.” Peter’s mother says. “Fold up your jeans and jumper Peter... you can keep it on.”

Peter cannot believe this is happening. “Oh please mum no!” he begs.

The overly helpful assistant offers to take his three skirts and three blouses to the till whilst they 'have a chat'.

“Thank you very much.” his mother smiles as the assistant takes the handful of hangers. “Think about it Peter...” she says before listing her purchases so far and approximating the cost. “and you'll need underwear, socks, tights...”

“I'm not wearing tights mum.”

“You say that now but come autumn you'll thank me.” she replies knowingly as his heart visibly sinks to his stomach. “I know it's a big step love, but it's hardly the first time you've worn a dress in public.”

“I've not worn one in the middle of town though... on a Saturday afternoon.” he groans.

“Well, there's a first time for everything.” his mother replies. Before long they're in the footwear department. “Is there anything you like?” his mother asks.

“Er... I dunno.” he replies, scanning shelves of heeled shoes with bows and buckles and straps and... “Those maybe.” he says, pointing out a pair of plain lace up shoes.

“They're more or less the same as the ones you've got.” his mother replies. “What about these? They'll go nice with your uniform and your dresses.” she says picking up a pair of flat T-bar sandals, “Or these Mary Jane's are nice.” she adds, picking up a similar style but with a heel.

“Er... I dunno.” he replies. “I don't want heels.”

“They're only an inch or two high and Michael wears heels.” his mother says before asking the assistant of the shoe department to bring him a pair of each to try. Whilst they're waiting his mother grabs a selection of white socks and opaque black tights. Peter tries on both pairs of shoes and his mother decides to buy him both pairs. Given the option of which he'd like to wear, he chooses the flats as he knows even a low heel is hard to walk in. “Do you mind if he puts a pair of these on now?” his mother asks the assistant, regarding a five pack of white ankle socks.

“Not at all.” the assistant replies with a smile.

Peter's mother isn't surprised when complains about the socks. “Can't I have plain ones?” he moans when he realises they have a subtle rose pattern in the knit.

Before long, Peter and his mother are leaving Debenhams and for the first time in his life, Peter walks down the high street wearing a dress. He tries to keep his head down as people turn and look at him. In spite of the fact that boys wearing dresses is becoming an increasingly common sight, it's a phenomenon that continues to turn heads. Peter wishes the ground would swallow him whole when people comment on his dress. The only thing he has to be thankful of is the fact he's wearing a plainish knee length shirt dress with a normal collar and buttons down the front and not one of the really prissy dresses his mother would have chosen.

When they finally arrive home, she asks him if he'd like to try his new uniform on. Peter declines the offer, which his mother interprets as him wanting to keep his new dress on. Together they hang his new uniform in his wardrobe, and much to Peter's disappointment, she removes his old trousers and shirts. “Mum... seeing as it's the end of term in a couple of weeks, can I keep my school trousers 'til then?”

“No.” his mother replied.

“Ohhh why not!?” he moaned as she folds his old plain shirts and trousers into a small neat pile.

“Because I’ve just spent a fortune on your new uniform and I'm not going to wait two months before I see you wearing it.”

In a futile attempt to wangle a few more weeks in pants, he says, “Well I’ll try it on now then.”

“Well you can if you want but that won't change anything.” she states. “I don't know why you insist on dressing like a girl... from Monday you will be going to school dressed as a boy and that's the last I want to hear about it.”


Peter’s mother wakes him earlier than normal on Monday morning. She tells him to go and take a shower, and in the mean time she gets his uniform ready. Peter returned from the shower clad in the pink and white dressing gown his grandmother had given him for his birthday some three or four months previously. He looks fearfully at the uniform his mother has neatly laid out on his bed. “Can't I wear my normal undies?” he asks when he notices the white lace trimmed vest and matching underpants.

“No Peter.” she replies, passing him his underpants.

“But... what if somebody sees them when I'm going up the stairs.” he asks, “That skirt is loads shorter than my dresses.”

“That, my dear is the precise reason I want you wearing nice ones.” his mother smiles.

Peter pulls on his lace trimmed underpants before removing his dressing gown. Next he pulls the lace trimmed vest over his head before stepping into the skirt. Like a typical boy he fastens it at the front before turning it around. He then pushes his arms into the short puffed sleeves of his blouse and buttons it up. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he pulls on his ankle socks with the rose pattern in the knit. Finally he slips his feet into his dainty ballet pumps and stands up.

His mother looks him up and down and tells him he looks lovely. “How does it feel?” she asks.

Peter looks down at himself. “Like I’ve forgotten to put my trousers on.” he replies. “Does it have to be this short?” he asks as his fingers hang several inches below the hem of his skirt.

“It's not that short Peter.” his mother insists. “Plus it'll be nice to get some sun on those legs, it's a lovely day.”

Peter looks out of his bedroom window and gulps; the sun is shining, the birds are singing and a gentle breeze rocks the trees. He looks down at himself once more. “Do I really look OK?” he asks.

“You look lovely Peter.” she reassures. “Like a schoolboy should.” she smiles.

The first proper sight Peter gets of himself is in the mirror in the hallway. His pale skinny legs are almost entirely exposed, save for a few inches at the top and he quite rightly feels half naked. He spends a few moments trying and failing to get used to it before going to the kitchen.

“How do you like it now you've had a proper look?” his mother asks as she butters some toast.

“I hate it.” he sulks, “It's far too short and everyone can see my vest through this... it's too thin.” he says, pinching at his blouse.

“It's nice being able to see your vest.” his mother replies. “Almost as nice as it is seeing your legs for once.” she chirps before placing a plate of toast on the table for him.

Peter pulls out a chair and sits, scooping what little there is of his skirt beneath him. Once sat, the pleats cover only half of his lap and he makes another comment about how short it is.

“It's fine Peter... just keep your knees together and nobody will see anything.” his mother advises.

Once he's finished his breakfast, his mother tells him to put his tie on as he'll have to set off shortly. As usual, he ties it in front of the mirror in the hallway but cant shop glancing down at his short pleated skirt and pale legs. “Let's have a look at you.” his mother says as she appears. Peter turns to face her and she straightens his tie and collar, before pushing her fingers through his fringe. “One last thing and then you're ready.” she says before putting a simple white band in his hair to hold his fringe off his forehead. “Perfect.”

Peter looks back at his reflection and moans, “Do I have to wear that too?”

“Of course.” she smiles. “You want to look nice don't you?”

“Not that nice.” he moans, noticing a small white bow on one side of his headband.

“Well I do.” his mother states, passing him his school bag. She kisses him on his forehead and tells him to have a nice day, before opening the front door for him.

As Peter steps outside he's a bag of nerves. He nervously looks around before swinging his bag onto his shoulder and step by terrifying step, he walks to school. Goose bumps form on his legs as the gentle breeze caresses them. If he didn't feel so humiliated it would feel quite nice. As he nears his school, he hears jeers and taunts from some of the boys along with coos and wolf whistles from the girls. He's practically petrified as he enters his form room, greeted by an uproar of taunts, applause and jeers. “Well done Peter.” his teacher says. “It's good to see you've finally joined the modern world.”

Peter forces a smile as he pulls out his chair, holds his skirt beneath him and carefully sits down.

Some of the boys loudly whisper “sissy”, “girlie boy” and other insults. The teacher silences them and after a brief pause she points out that the boys who still insist on wearing trousers are now in a minority. Some of Peter’s friends distanced themselves from him, but that was only an extension of a void that started after his birthday party back in the spring. The two who did attend his party were OK with him, although neither of them had to wear a skirt for school... yet. One thing Peter did notice is the girls who bullied him now smiled at him, even complimented him.

Peter’s sense of shame didn't ebb as the day progressed, but he had expected to receive more taunts and teasing than he ended up getting. His skirt was lifted twice by a couple of girls, which he could have done without... especially since they made no secret of his 'pretty' underwear.

When he arrived home his mother asked him how school was. “OK I guess.” he replied, before asking if he could change.

“After you've finished your homework.” his mother replied.

“Oh but I’ve got loads.” he moaned.

“Well the sooner you start the sooner you'll finish.”

When Peter finally finishes his homework, he goes to his bedroom to change out of his uniform. Within minute he's back downstairs, still in his uniform. “I can't find any pants.”

“Put a dress on then.” his mother replies.

“But I don't want to wear a dress... I want to wear pants.”

“You don't have any pants Peter, so it's either a dress or you can keep your uniform on.” she replies.

“Oh but...” he moans, almost in tears.

“But nothing Peter... it's high time you stopped dressing like a girl all the time, so from now on it's boy clothes only.”

“But I don't feel like a boy unless I'm wearing pants.”

“And you don't look like a boy when you do.” his mother retorts.

The next morning is dull and drizzly. Peter’s mother suggests he should wear knee socks today, but seeing the pretty diamond pattern up the sides, he's naturally reluctant. Nevertheless mother knows best and Peter does as he's told. After all it's only a pair of socks and not the end of the world.

On Wednesday however, it almost is the end of the world when he unravels his towel before his swimming class, only to find an all-in-one swimsuit with a little built in skirt. Some of the other boys wear the same style and some wear a standard all in one costume, whilst the few remaining 'old-fashioned' boys still wear trunks, and proudly so. The girls wear two piece tankini style costumes, and think the boys who insist on baring their chests are Neanderthals; throw backs from a bygone age. As Peter steps out to the poolside in his tiny swimming dress, he hopes a shark will jump out and take him. Instead and predictably the 'old' boys jeer whilst the girls wolf whistle, point and stare. “You'd have nice pins if you shaved them!” one girl shouts.

That evening when Peter arrived home he says, "Why didn't you tell me you'd bought me a swimming costume?" 

"I thought you'd have known." she replies. "Was you expecting trunks?"

"Well... yes... I was." he replied as he cast his mind back to the shame he felt. 

His mother asked him if any of the other 'modern' boys still wore trunks, knowing full well that none of them would. "So don't be surprised on Friday when you find a PE skirt and gym knickers in your bag." she added, glancing down at his legs and commenting on his nice tan.

He grabs his skirt and looks down. “Do you think I should shave them?” he asks.

“Yes.” his mother replies.

He drops his skirt and looks at her expectantly, as if to ask, “well... how do I do that then?

His mother reads his expression like a book. “Well don't ask me... I’ve never shaved, why would I?”

Women and girls began to turn their back on skirts and dresses many many years ago. One inevitable side effect meant they ceased to remove their body hair... in fact doing so was considered another symbol of subservience, along with wearing perfume, make-up and earrings. Peter's mother is a typical woman of the age. She's never worn a skirt or a dress in her adult life, she's never worn make-up or perfume, she's never shaved her legs or arm pits and has never worn high heeled shoes. In fact the only things the modern woman has in common with those of days-gone-by is the blob, boobs, bras, birth and babies. And the babies are handed over to the husband as soon as the nursing period is over.

“I know Michael shaves his legs.... and I guess he'll either use a razor, a cream or wax them.” Peter’s mother says. “Why don't you ask him next time we visit?” she suggests.

Some of the guys in Peter’s class obviously shave. The boys in skirts with hairy legs just look silly. Peter is lucky to be relatively fair so his leg hairs don't stand out that much. If anything they look more out-of-focus than hairy. He ponders asking one of the boys in his class for advice, but shies away from the idea.

Joanne King however; being pretty much the only girl in the entire school who still wears a skirt also clearly shaves her legs, so on Friday, Peter sheepishly approaches her. “Hi Joanne.” he says.

“Hi Pete.” she replies, looking him up and down. “I'm glad you decided to wear skirt.” she says. “It's got to be easier than getting kneed in the balls every week.”

“er... yeah I s'pose.” Peter replies. After a brief uncomfortable silence, Peter asks, “Do you think I should shave my legs?”

“Sure.” she replies without hesitation.

“Figured as much.” he frowns. “How do you do yours?”

“With a razor.” she bluntly replies, implying its both obvious and none of his business.

“Sorry.” Peter hangs his head. “I just don't know how and don't know who to ask, apart from you.”

Joanne tells him that it's easy. So explains the soap, the lather and the few minutes to let it soften the hairs. “Then you just pull a razor over it and rinse it, over and over 'til there's no hair left.” she tells him. “And then do the same thing to your chin.” she adds with a sheepish smile.

“You better not be chatting him up sissy girl!” a voice suddenly shouted.

Peter looked around to see a group of four girls quickly approaching. He turns back to Joanne who disappears around a corner. He looks back and the four girls are all around him. “What?” he asks.

“Curtsey before you address me boy!” the ringleader ordered.

“What?” Peter said in a trembling voice.

“You know!” she said, bearing down on him threateningly. “Now curtsey!”

Peter gulped, grabbed his skirt and curtseyed.

The girls tittered. “That's better.” the ringleader said as she stepped back. “Stay away from that sissy girl pretty boy.” she ordered, grabbing Peter's cheek and pulling him towards her, “You're too good for the likes of her.” she said before letting him go and marching off with her posse.

The following week Peter encounters Joanne being bullied by the other girls. The four of them surround her, call her names like sissy-girl and tell her she's even lower than the boys; "Trying to look pretty for the boys? You're the lowest of the low and an insult to the rest of us!" The ringleader barks as she holds Joanne by her blouse. She then grabs and lifts Joanne's skirt, asking her why she dresses like a boy. “...I bet you're even wearing frillies you cowering servile tart!”

Peter steps in shouting “Leave her alone!” as he pushes the ringleader off Joanne. As quick as anything he gets kneed in the balls and finds himself cowering on the floor. Through teary eyes he looks up at the girl who'd just put him down.

“I thought now you're wearing a skirt you'd know your place!” she says as he squirms at her feet. She looks at Joanne who stares sympathetically down on Peter, “Well your boyfriend didn't save you this time damsel.” She looks back at Peter, still squirming and orders her minions to pick him up. Peter is dragged to his feet and held fast. “Now unless you want...” Again she knees Peter as hard as she can in the balls, “...this to happen to your boyfriend every day...” she watches Peter crumple to the floor in agony, “'ll stop dressing like a boy... DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!” she shouts, right in Joanne's trembling face. Joanne nods, trying her best not to cry. The ringleader turns her attention back to Peter, still breathless and clutching his groin. She warns him to stay away from Joanne, “...unless you want another kiss on your nuts, pretty boy.”

The group of aggressors leave them alone and Joanne crouches down over Peter’s writhing body. “I'm sorry.“ she says with tears in her eyes, “You should have stayed away... I’ll do what they say...” she says as she tries to help him up.

Peter tells her not to give in to them, that she should wear what she likes and that it's got nothing to do with them. Joanne agrees as she finally helps Peter to his feet. He wipes his eyes and straightens his skirt. Joanne asks him if he's OK and bravely he nods whilst clearly he's not.

The end of break bell sounds and they both look randomly into space. Peter reminds her not to give in to them before they part company and head to their respective classes; Joanne walks in one direction, Peter hobbles in the other.

The following day, Peter is disheartened to see that Joanne attends school wearing trousers, a plain shirt and flat lace-up shoes for the first time. “At least those girls seem to be leaving her alone now.” he thinks as they share a distant smile.


  1. Thanks for the acknowledgements. Enjoyed the story!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it... your Genderquake is fantastic scenario to work around. :)

  2. I like this story very much and hope to see next part.

  3. Hey, I thought the story was very nice. I'm just asking this out of curiosity; would you do this to your son just because you could?

    1. Glad you enjoyed it... but in answer to your question, No. It's a fantasy and therefore has no place in the real world.

  4. Hey, PJ, I really liked the story. If you had children: if your son(s) made a bet with your daughter(s) and promised they would wear dresses to church for a year if they lost, would you make the boy(s) stand by their word or make the girl(s) come up with an alternative?

    1. glad you enjoyed the story, but that's a definite 'no'... these stories are fiction and fantasy, nothing more.

  5. How can I be sure?
    In a world that's constantly changing
    How can I be sure?

    Nice one PJ thanks. I'll think about this story the next time I hear that song by Dusty Springfield.

    1. Yes the world is changing... and it wasn't too long ago (100 years) when girls would be frowned upon for wearing trousers, and about 100-50 years before that, boys would wear dresses until the age of four or five when they'd be 'breeched'. Maybe one day it'll be commonplace to put boys in skirts and dresses just like the girls.. which is why Jamie Vesta's Genderquake World (in which this story sits), is so exciting to write about.

  6. A very good fictional story it would be nice if there was more

    1. There was a follow-up to this in the pipeline but it never got finished. Maybe one day but don't hold your breath. There will however be other 'genderquake' stories. :)

  7. Thank you for this fantastic story! Reading this is like fulfilling my dreams. So I would like boys and men to wear dresses, skirts, tights and high heels every day! I ask for more such stories!
    Greetings from Poland!

  8. What a fantastic story loved reading every minute of it can´t wait to find out if you publish more.

  9. I love this is me in those pretty panties and dresses....along with the diapers and plastic pants....I just LOVE IT ALL....

    1. Thank you, it's one of my favourites too... but there's no diapers or plastic pants in this one.