EARLIER this month a photo of a three-year-old with their tongue poked out, in an Elsa dress Hallowe'en costume was posted on Facebook.

If the photo had been of a girl in the Frozen costume, it would probably only have gathered a few dozen 'likes' from family and friends.

But this was of a boy, Caiden, posted by his dad, Paul Henson, who added: "He also wants me to be Anna. Game on."

Within three days of the dad,from Chesapeake, USA, uploading the photo, it had gone viral. It had been shared thousands of times around the globe, with news outlets from the UK, Australia, Brazil and numerous places in between reporting on it.

Responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with Paul being called 'Dad of the Year'; "for every negative comment, there's been 50 shutting it down," he said.

But Paul seems a bit bemused by all the attention he and his son have got.

"Hallowe'en is about children pretending to be their favourite characters," he said.

"It just so happens, this week his is a princess."

Meanwhile, Hampshire mums Claire Broomes and Nicole Cummins are used to the sight of little boys dressed up as Elsa - they both have Frozen obsessed sons.

In fact, Nicole's son Christopher, who is three in January, has watched the Disney hit movie more than a thousand times!

"I did like it," laughs the mum from Mansbridge.

"Eventually, the repetition gets to you a bit!"

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The two families are among a growing number of people who reject gender labels that they feel restrict their children's freedom, and let them play and experiment, whether that means dressing up as Spiderman or a princess, with groups like Let Toys Be Toys and Let Clothes Be Clothes actively campaigning for gender neutral items for children.

Claire and Jermaine Broomes from Chandlers Ford simply never considered restricting their son's access to toys on the basis that they're widely perceived as for girls.

Four-year-old Reuben is heavily into Frozen, and loves his Princess Elsa dresses, wand, hair band and dolls, alongside his toy kitchen, Peppa Pig plush toys, My Little Ponies, Hulk merchandise, trains and Star Wars toys.

"He's likely to come down stairs in a princess dress and crown with a light sabre in one hand and his Spiderman slippers on," says Claire.

"I try to give him, and my older boys, as many opportunities as possible and they find their own way.

"Who am I to try to squash his intrigue or steer him?

"There's no right or wrong. His princess dresses are just items of clothing. They don't mean anything."

Reuben says he likes princesses because he loves the sparkles and wants to be a princess when he grows up, although his favourite dress up costume is the sparkle-free Spiderman.

Daily Echo: Reuben Broomes

He shares his love of princesses with male and female friends alike.

Claire is happy to let Reuben be free to explore his interests and has been disappointed by some of the reactions she has received.

"My husband and I sometimes find we're having to defend ourselves," says the mother of three.

"I made Reuben a Frozen cake for his birthday which I was really proud of and even that got negative comments when I showed people a photo of it on my phone.

"Sometimes I find people can be quite confrontational.

"I actually have compassion for people like that, because they are governed by all these unwritten rules.

"I think that's quite restrictive and limiting."

Claire says Reuben hasn't really noticed negative reactions to him playing with his much-loved Anna and Elsa dolls or going to parties in his favourite princess dress, but she fears he will become self conscious about his choices.

"I've got the awareness not to take it personally when people are shocked when I say I've bought him this or that thing," she says.

"I'd hate him to become self-conscious but I think it's inevitable it will happen, which is sad.

"He does sometimes get comments from friends who say things like 'that's for girls,' but I jump in and say 'says who?' to get them to try to think about it.

"I think it would be oppressive and limiting if he couldn't explore that side of himself. It would be unnecessarily limiting.

"And where do you draw the line? Do we say there are some jobs that are only for women and others that are only for men?

"Maybe he'll dress up as Elsa for Hallowe'en, or maybe as a skeleton!

"He's got a wide range of toys - it's not just princes things but I don't see why that needs to be excluded."

Nicole Cummins from Mansbridge was disappointed by some of the reactions to her two-year-old son Christopher wearing his Queen Elsa dress at a recent pumpkin festival.

Daily Echo: Nicole Cummins and Christopher

"We were there promoting my amateur dramatics group's pantomime, which is all about cross dressing, so I thought it was all the more strange that people reacted negatively to him wearing a dress," says the 30-year-old.

"I was quite shocked."

Christopher's love of Frozen started with the music but has now extended to dressing up and toys.

He watches his DVD of the film on a daily basis.

"I try not to let him watch it too much, " says Nicole.

"He has to learn about something other than princesses!"

Nicole says that some family members have had raised eyebrows at Christopher's dressing up choices, but she is adamant that what he wears is up to him.

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"I've said if he wants to wear a dress, he's going to wear a dress!" she says.

"I hope I'm bringing him up to think that if people don't like it, it's their problem, not his.

"It's unfair that liking things like pink, sparkles and princesses are seen as fine for girls but not for boys, but we brush it off.

"I just hope the world is moving forward and that we can be more accepting of everyone being who they want to be."