How Angelina & Brad Let Their Daughter Shiloh Express Herself Growing Up Is A Beautiful Example For All Parents

Self-expression is a crucial part of growing up and deciding your identity for yourself, without rigid definitions.

Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt & Shiloh Jolie-Pitt & Zahara Jolie-Pitt & Pax Jolie-Pitt Gennaro Leonardi Photos, Kathy Hutchins | Shutterstock, izusek | Canva

A crucial part of raising well-adjusted children is letting them explore their identities and decide for themselves who they are and how they want to present themselves in the world. While all parents have hopes and dreams for their kids, it’s fairly widely acknowledged that they shouldn’t push those expectations onto their kids, rather allowing them to discover who they are for themselves. 

The way that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt let Shiloh express herself growing up is a shining example to all parents on how to let kids be.

Shiloh falls third in the line-up among Jolie and Pitt’s six children. Now 17 years old, Shiloh was born in Namibia in 2006, preceded by Maddox, 22, and Zahara, 18. The Jolie-Pitt family kept growing even after her birth, as her parents adopted her brother Pax, 19 in 2007. Twins Knox and Vivienne, 15, were born in 2008.


Shiloh, being born into fame, had an extensive amount of attention paid to her every move. As she grew up, she made the news for just existing, and the ways she chose to do so.

Shiloh made headlines early on in life for wearing suits, having short hair, and presenting along a more masculine spectrum. In 2008, Pitt told Oprah that Shiloh asked to be called John, which he readily obliged. Jolie offered her own take on her toddler’s gender expression to The Daily Mail, saying, “I don’t think it’s for the world to interpret anything.”

brad pitt with kids shiloh, maddox and paxPhoto: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock


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“She likes to dress like a boy and wants her hair cut like a boy and she wanted to be called John for a while,” Jolie continued.

Jolie expressed how common it is for kids to play with gender expression and identity.

Their doing so doesn't necessarily prescribe any larger meaning to the behavior. She said, “Some kids wear capes and want to be Superman and she wants to be like her brothers. It’s who she is. It’s been a surprise to us and it’s really interesting, but she’s so much more than that.”

Jolie’s response to the media frenzy over her daughter’s appearance was rooted in all the right things — Radical acceptance of Shiloh for being herself, and an outpouring of loving support, no matter what she chose to wear.


A TikTok post from a self-proclaimed politically conservative man named Chuckie Vega conveyed an important message in relation to Shiloh’s gender expression: The value of letting kids be themselves, no matter what.  

“Just let children express themselves and be themselves without pushing a political ideology onto them,” Vega exclaimed, using Shiloh as an example.



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“This young girl used to be a tomboy,” he stated. “She wanted to wear boy clothes, she wanted short hair, she expressed herself in a very masculine way, and guess what — her very famous parents, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, allowed her to just be herself, without pressure from a certain political side.” He references the fact that her gender expression has skewed more feminine in recent years, saying, “She’s now a beautiful young lady, all on her own.”

It’s worth noting that Shiloh is beautiful, yet that has less to do with her gender expression or style and more to do with her bone structure and genetic makeup. It’s also worth reinforcing that even if she weren’t wearing dresses or make-up, she’d still be beautiful. She’d still hold inherent value, beyond what she looks like, and isn’t that what’s most important?

Of course, Shiloh is totally allowed to play with her look, and it’s clear that she still does. She debuted a new hairstyle in August 2023, while out to lunch with a friend in LA. She was spotted with a pink-sheened buzz cut, a look that plays on the in-between space, the interplay of masculine and feminine expression.

While clothes are inherently genderless, society still assigns a gender identity to certain articles of fashion. But Shiloh has shown that the expression of identity doesn’t have to fall into a rigid definition. Once she wore suits, then she wore dresses. Once she had long hair, now, she has a buzz cut. In a world that’s constantly changing, why shouldn’t all people — kids and adults — be allowed to change how they want to look, whenever it pleases them? 


For all their power and influence, Shiloh’s parents took a step back in the right direction and allowed her to be herself, in all iterations of the word. 

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Says She 'Feels So Much More' For Her Adopted Children Than Her Daughter Shiloh

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.