People call my son a girl because he has long hair but I'll never make him conform, says Nicola McLean

WHEN Voice host Emma Willis spoke of her outrage after trolls criticised her nine-year-old son Ace’s long blond locks, it really struck a chord with me.

Like Ace, my son Striker, 11, has lovely long blond hair. It goes right down to his bum. And every single day of his life, he gets called a girl.

It happens when he plays football, on holiday, and on social media.

“Oh, she’s lovely,” people comment. But I genuinely don’t care — and neither does Striker.

That said, I constantly have to argue that Striker’s a boy, because people still think boys should have short hair and girls have long hair.

When he first started school, Striker’s hair was shoulder length. The headmistress told his teacher: “You need to have a word with Striker’s mum. He needs his hair cut.”

The teacher, who I admire greatly, said: “Why does he?”

She then printed off loads of pictures of footballers with long hair and took them into class and said: “Striker is a boy, but Striker has long hair. Look at all these other boys who also have long hair.”

In doing that, she showed him and the other kids that it’s OK for boys to have long hair too.

I showed Striker the picture Emma posted of Ace and his reaction was: “That hair is blonder than mine!” It didn’t even matter if Ace was a boy or a girl, it was all about the hair colour.

Having long hair doesn’t make Striker any less of a boy. There’s nothing feminine about him, not that it would matter if there was.

In Emma’s photo, Ace is wearing a pink crop-top, and while that’s not Striker’s bag, it isn’t because he thinks it’s for girls, he’s just never out of his football kit.

I love that Emma’s son isn’t following a gender stereotype and although I’m not a woke parent, if Striker wasn’t identifying as a boy, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

A lot of people seem to think Striker’s hair is long because of me. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. My husband Tom loves Striker’s hair, too.

Emma said that online comments about her kids make her inner “Hulk” come out and I can relate to that 100 per cent. If anyone says anything about my kids, I’m like a lunatic.

One troll said Striker must be gay because he was wearing a pink football kit and had long hair.

It’s ignorance, but it takes days for me to calm down from that sort of s***.

Commenting on a kid’s appearance is just horrendous.


Someone else said Striker can’t be a footballer if he has long hair, so I posted a picture of Gareth Bale and said: “Does someone want to tell Gareth Bale that?”

There are loads of male role models with long hair — Chris Hemsworth as Thor, David Beckham back in the day, Brad Pitt when he was in Troy. And what about Pete Wicks from Towie?

Luckily Striker is brilliant at sticking up for himself and has always been very articulate.

If someone asks him why his hair is “like that”, he’ll reply: “Why is your hair like that?”

He’s making them question their views and that makes me so proud. My older son Rocky is nearly 15 but I don’t think he has ever had to stick up for his brother because Striker is so forth­right.

If anything, Rocky probably feels awkward if anyone comments because he knows me or Striker are going to let loose!

I would like to cut Striker’s hair a little bit, but only because it’s hard to manage. It’s really curly and he plays a lot of sport, so it gets quite tangled. But if I ever tell him I need to trim it, he’s says: “No!”

Twice a week I wash it with shampoo and conditioner then I brush it. That takes about half an hour and it’s a nightmare.

We also use detangling spray, then it’s into a bun for school. Once it got below shoulder length he had to tie it back, but so do the girls.

Emma said she loves how unique Ace is and I feel proud of my son’s individuality, too.

If Striker asked me to shave all his hair off, I’d be devastated. I’d do it, but I’d be crying.

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