A mum of five boys has been forced to defend her sons' choice to have waist-long hair after some strangers cruelly accused her of keeping it long because she wanted a daughter instead.
Rachael Cresswell, 42, from Torbay, Devon is a proud stay-at-home mum to Jaxon, nine, Noah, seven, Cole, six, Bodhi, three, and Leif aged one.
The family regularly share their beach-side adventures on Instagram, but the long, blonde hair of two of her sons have been criticised by some followers.
That's because Jaxon and Bodhi have chosen not to cut their hair, and whilst they have never experienced any negative comments from other children, adults online have voiced unwanted opinions about the young boys' longer hair.
“I’m told to cut their hair," Cresswell explains. "Strangers say they look like girls and that I’m suffering from gender disappointment, which I have never had.
“I find it crazy that people are so bothered by the length of a child’s hair, the judgement from grown adults about a child they don’t know is ridiculous.”
Cresswell says she suspected her eldest son, Jaxon, would arrive into the world with a full head of hair after suffering badly with heartburn during her pregnancy.
“I was overdue with Jaxon," she explains. "He was born with so much fluffy blonde hair and it grew really quickly. He looked so much older than bald babies, but it just really suited him.
"By age two, it was to his shoulders," she adds.
Now waist-length Cresswell says her son loves his long hair.
"When he was younger, he was sometimes mistaken for a girl, but now he can correct people himself and he’s not bothered at all.
“He has never experienced any negativity from other children, but adults have often asked when he is going to get his hair cut.
“Older generations seem to have an issue with the length of his hair, simply because he is a boy.”
Cresswell says her son's long locks are "part of his personality".
“Given where we live, he has a real surfer dude persona," she explains.
“When Jaxon was old enough, we told him it’s his choice if he wanted it cut, but he wanted to keep it long and we are fine with that.
“I believe it’s really important to raise them to follow their own choices and allowing their own personality to develop.”
While Cresswell admits she might miss her son's long hair if he chose to cut it, she stresses that it is his body and his choice.
“Part of me would be sad, only because I’ve always known him with long hair, but we actively promote body autonomy," she explains.
“He said he would donate it if he did cut it off, and then just grow it again.”
Cresswell has been married for 10 years to husband Daniel, 39, who works as a sea fisher and enforcement officer.
The couple say they were shocked when each of their sons was born with fair hair, despite their dad’s dark-haired genes.
“We always assumed our children would look the same as my husband as dark hair is the dominant gene," Cresswell explains.
“Jaxon’s hair has a slight wave and is the same shade of blonde as mine, yet Bodhi's hair is poker straight and is a lot lighter.”
Both Noah and Cole have shorter hairstyles, while the youngest, Leif, is just one so has yet to decide on his own style.
On a day to day basis Jaxon ties his hair back in a low ponytail for school or swimming, but according to Cresswell him and his brothers don't have specific haircare routine.
“I’m always asked about what products we use and our haircare routine," Cresswell continues.
“I just wash their hair every other night and ask the boys to try not to get food in it.”
Speaking about some of the negativity she has faced online, Cresswell says: “TikTok can be brutal, but I am happy to be a boy mum, despite some ridiculous online comments claiming I must be desperate for a girl, or wish one of the boys was a girl.
“Their hair is part of their body, and it suits them perfectly.
“The boys like it and want to keep it long - and that’s all that matters,” she adds.
Additional reporting Caters.