Author Topic: Why was Alexei dressed like a girl as an infant and toddler, and his hair color?  (Read 19995 times)

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TsarAlexeiII

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As an infant his hair was extremely curly and he worse dresses and skirts. Why did his parents dress him like this? I am also curious why he wore sailor uniforms so often.

And what color was his hair? I have seen some user-made color photos that give him red hair, but in the black and white photos his hair looks brown.

Offline Robert_Hall

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The dressing of little boys as girls until about 6 years old, when they switched to shorts, was common in all the royal families of the era. It had been for many years. No one thought anything of if. Maybe they just thought it was cute.
 Same with sailor suits. Just traditional.
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Offline feodorovna

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The practice was not just for royalty. There is a picture in my family, of a small boy-18 months to 2 years old-in what we would call a dress. He looks like a miniature version of his two sisters who stand beside him. The picture was taken around 1916. My father, who was born in 1906 always maintained that he was dressed like a girl until he started school, which was possibly the time when boys had their first haircut.

Offline Robert_Hall

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I knew it was not just royalty, but I think that is where the practice started.
 Your father's story makes perfect sense.
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Offline Gorseheart

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I read a long ago (from somewhere that escapes me) that they were superstitious, and they dressed them like girls to prevent evil spirits from taking them, because males were valuable in old societies. I don't know, just putting my two cents in.

Someone else thought so too I guess, I could be wrong....

 I have read that there was some superstitious reason for keeping little boys in long girl like curls and dresses.  It may have been Biblical and related to when all of the baby boys were ordered killed in Jesus' day.




His hair was Auburn.
And From Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra:

"a long, finely chiseled face, delicate features, auburn hair with a coppery glint, and large grey-blue eyes like his mother"

And as for the Sailor suit thing, here's a thread already on it:
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=3622.0
And a quote!
As far as I know, this is what he largely wore. I think he no doubt did like to dress as part of the army and navy. He was handsome as a little boy, and as a baby, wearing dresses and frilly things.Sailor suits were first introduced to Russian royalty with the children of GD Marie Pavlovna the elder, and Empress Marie Feodorovna, Nicholas II's mother. It certainly became prevalent among young males in the Romanov family, and among European royalty to wear them. The native Russian like costumes seen in mid 19th century photos of boys of the more junior branches of the Imperial Family, were never worn by Alexei as far as I know.

May God keep you!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 04:16:54 AM by Gorseheart »
"Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be the same as today.  God, help us! Take pity of us!"~ Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov


Offline AGRBear

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If I remember correctly, the mother of a male child was allowed to baby her baby boy and toddler but once he reached a certain age,  around five,  the boy was placed into the world of young males....  Long hair was cut.  Dresses were replaced with short pants...

I do believe it did have a connection to the idea that people were fooling the spirits  and became tradition....  My husband recalls his mother giving him a permanent and claimed that he had wanted his hair curled....  He doubts he ever wanted his hair curled. 

AGRBear
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Offline Sarushka

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There's a practical factor here, too -- diaper changes are a whole lot simpler when you're dealing with a gown/skirt than pants.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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That, Sarushka, makes more sense than the superstition.
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Offline AGRBear

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Supersitions became tangled with religions therefore  boys and girls hair were kept long though the ages.....  I don't recall when it became acceptable to cut boys hair short.  I know girls hair was not to be cut even into the early 1900s for religious reasons.....

Wearing dresses did make it easier for diaper changes.   I doubt there were many royal boys who weren't potty trained long before they were given short pants.

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« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 08:03:37 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline Gorseheart

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That is true Sarushka, but here's an web page I found on it being more about tradition: http://histclo.com/style/skirted/Dress/dresswhy.html

And the excerpt from this page: http://www.clotheslinejournal.com/victorian.myths.html

Quote
Why did they dress little boys like little girls?

The way children have been dressed first relates to ideas of infancy, development, and gender identity. Until the eighteenth century most babies were wrapped in swaddling cloth, put in short dresses, then dressed in miniature adult clothing while still quite young in preparation for adult roles. The 1760's brought in philosophies of Rousseau which promoted clothing that allowed for children's natural development. Dresses promoted movement and ease for both sexes. Though adult roles were extremely gender specific, small children's clothing was not. The specifics of dress in every period of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries cannot be discussed here as they changed with fashion, science and culture. General theories and tendencies, however, can be discussed.



Many images of small boys from the Victorian period and earlier appear feminine by today's standards. Some images show young boys in dresses almost identical to those of girls. Late nineteenth century images show boys in the little pantsuits with lace and velvet deemed the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit after one described in the Frances Hodgeson Burnett book. Boys' clothing was not dissimilar to women's fashions of the nineteenth century. It was not unusual in the nineteenth century for small girls to wear bloomers, or pants beneath their dresses as well. Though the shapes and details of this form of dress are feminine by today's standards, people living at the time would not confuse these boys for girls, nor would a parent be appalled at the idea of someone thinking their infant son was a little girl or vice versa.

Like many other aspects of dress, the visible implicators of masculine and feminine have changed over time. The color schemes we associate with the identification of an infant's gender did not develop until the early to mid twentieth century. Pinks and blues were used interchangeably on children when colors were used, but infants of the nineteenth century would most likely be attired in white. It displayed purity and could be bleached clean, an issue of practicality. Visible designs and accessories were recognizable by contemporaries as masculine or feminine, but the dress itself would not necessarily be an indicator. Finally, the use of pants for infant and toddler boys could create additional difficulties as fasteners commonly used today (snaps, zippers and velcro) were not available until the twentieth century. In the time before a child was potty trained, dresses would provide cover and access to diapers.

Until recent decades parents were not as concerned with declaring a child's sex. Children would rarely be exposed to strangers until well into their toddler years due to the more home-based lives most people lived.[11] Gender would not need to be advertised to others who most likely knew the parents and the gender of the child already.

Beliefs about the nature of children also supported the idea that children developed personalities and individual traits as they grew, but were not necessarily born with them. Until babies grew into toddlers (2 or 3 years old) gender would not play a role in their lives. This may have been partially due to the high rates of infant mortality. This lack of individuality may have been a form of psychological protection for parents facing the likelihood of losing infant children.[12]

"Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be the same as today.  God, help us! Take pity of us!"~ Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov


Offline AGRBear

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Mongolia#Customs_and_Superstitions:

>>Mongolians traditionally were afraid of misfortunes and believe in a variety of good and bad omens. Misfortune might be attracted by talking about negative things, or by persons that are often talked about. They might also be sent by some malicious shaman or enraged by breaking some taboo, like stepping on a yurt's threshold, desecrating waters or mountains, etc.[citation needed] The most endangered family members were children, and that's why they would sometimes be given non-names like Nergui (Mongolian: without name) or Enebish (Mongolian: not this one), or boys would be dressed up as girls.[5] Before going out at night, young children's foreheads are sometimes painted with charcoal or soot in order to deceive evil spirits that this is not a child but a rabbit with black hair on the forehead.

When passing ovoos on a journey, they are often circumambulated, and some sweets or the like are sacrificed, in order to have a further safe trip. Certain ovoos, especially those on high mountains, are also sacrificed to in order to obtain good weather, ward off misfortune and the like.

For a child, the first big celebration is the first haircut, usually at an age between three and five.  Birthdays were not celebrated in the old times, but these days, birthday parties are popular.<<

This was true of many other cultures, not just the monglians, if you go back far enough into the history of civilization.

See photo of a group of Irish boys in skirts.

http://www.nationalgeographicstock.com/ngsimages/explore/explorecomp.jsf?xsys=SE&id=1319316

AGRBear
« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 11:42:46 AM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline RealAnastasia

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I read a long ago (from somewhere that escapes me) that they were superstitious, and they dressed them like girls to prevent evil spirits from taking them, because males were valuable in old societies. I don't know, just putting my two cents in.

Someone else thought so too I guess, I could be wrong....

 I have read that there was some superstitious reason for keeping little boys in long girl like curls and dresses.  It may have been Biblical and related to when all of the baby boys were ordered killed in Jesus' day.




His hair was Auburn.
And From Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra:

"a long, finely chiseled face, delicate features, auburn hair with a coppery glint, and large grey-blue eyes like his mother"

And as for the Sailor suit thing, here's a thread already on it:
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=3622.0
And a quote!
As far as I know, this is what he largely wore. I think he no doubt did like to dress as part of the army and navy. He was handsome as a little boy, and as a baby, wearing dresses and frilly things.Sailor suits were first introduced to Russian royalty with the children of GD Marie Pavlovna the elder, and Empress Marie Feodorovna, Nicholas II's mother. It certainly became prevalent among young males in the Romanov family, and among European royalty to wear them. The native Russian like costumes seen in mid 19th century photos of boys of the more junior branches of the Imperial Family, were never worn by Alexei as far as I know.

May God keep you!


The supersticious thought about evil spirits taking away boys and not girls is Chinese. They uses to dress boys as girls until they were five years old or so for evil spirits wouldn't kidnap them. As far as I know , Europeans wouldn't follow this tradition, not even Easterns European families.

I have a lot of family pics in which boys from this period were dressed like girls. And we are no Royalty. I also have some advertising articles n 1900 magazines in which they calls from "boys dresses". Yes; boys were dressed up with dresses but even if they were similar they were NOT the same than girls ones and if you watches their clothes closely boys and girls were dressed in similar ways, but not exactly equal.

RealAnastasia.

Offline AGRBear

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As far as I know, the Irish are part of the European group.   Perhaps you missed this web site showing the photo:

http://www.nationalgeographicstock.com/ngsimages/explore/explorecomp.jsf?xsys=SE&id=1319316

These boys are school age.  Not being Irish,  I have to ask:  What was their reason?

Here are a number of  pictures of boys wearing dresses in European history and the US....:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Boys'_dresses

For some it was based on fashions of their time.



AGRBear

 



« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 04:40:07 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline Talya

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My money's on superstitions based on the plagues of Egypt (first born son dies)
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TsarAlexeiII

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Thank you everyone. My question has been answered.