Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pretty in Pink

Cute photo right? A mother and son laughing and playing together.  Well it's causing HUGE controversy back home in the US. It's part of the ad below which was sent out to JCrew customers and features their creative director Jenna Lyons and her son Beckett.

If you are like me you're thinking, um what's the big deal? Well the extreme right says it "features blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children" and even goes on to say "Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future.”

WHAT THE F*&£!!!!!!!!!!

First off, correct me if I'm wrong, but nailpolish does not make someone transgendered.  Furthermore the only thing that dictates that nailpolish or the colour pink for that matter are "only for girls" is culture.  Culture can not change your biology and whether you are gay, straight, boy, girl, transgendered or otherwise is decided by your DNA.  Pink nailpolish won't change your DNA.

Secondly, how dare some right-wing pundit (that quote is from a woman by the way) call Jenna a bad mother!  How does she know what kind of mother she is and how can she so callously declare she's making her son's life hard by painting his toes?  Women are supposed to help one another aren't we?

Regardless for the reasons (for all we know Beckett has two big sisters and didn't want to be left out of the pedicure fun) there is absolutely nothing wrong with painting a boy's toenails pink.  The only thing that tells us it is "wrong" is popular culture dictates that it's just for girls.  I don't know about you but I don't let culture tell me what to do or not to do.

I say that Jenna Lyons is a FABULOUS feminist mother who let's her son be who he wants to be and love whatever colours he wants to love.  Y'all know I love dressing Blondie Boy in pink and if he wanted a pedicure, who am I to tell him no because "culture" says he can't?  I'm going to raise my son to believe he can be anything he wants to be and do anything he wants to do whether it's popular culture or not.

Quotes and images from the LA Times. And thanks to Sally for bringing this story to my attention.


Jenn B said...

my sis just posted a picture on FB of my nephews very dirty feet - and his alternating pink and purple toenails. She figures that evenually, he'll figure out its not cool.

He has 2 big sisters!

Vegemite Wife said...

That made me laugh. Very hard. Even if he did become gay or transgendered, then so what? How narrow minded of that woman to make a deal out of it. What a funny world we live in.

Jax Blunt said...

I think that it's a very clever ad - it's certainly got lots of ppl talking. And I think they knew that and chose it specifically. So I don't think this is about feminism, or choice, or colours or anything else - I think it's very clever marketing.

And slightly unpleasant in that way.

lizrising said...

We'd all be better off if everyone had cute pink toenails. Especially big, hairy man feet!

If the kid's gay or transgendered, he's already gay or transgendered. I didn't catch teh gay from my straight parents. And (shocker!), the frilly dresses and girly shoes I was subjected to as a child didn't make me straight. The nay sayers are just proving to the world that they're dummies, and I'm pretty sure we'll get to a place in society soon enough that they'll be ridiculed by everyone for saying crap like that. There was a big uproar about the Jolie-Pitts dressing Shiloh "like a boy." The uproar is stupid but not surprising.

Boo, Jax and Bo said...

Bruce had his nails painted pink for most of last summer. I suspect he will again this summer when he spots me doing mine - that always makes him want his done. Guess I'm a bad mum, too :)

Anonymous said...

I ran into this story first on (the women's blog associated with and they have some other disturbing quotes from this ridiculousness. The whole thing is pretty gross. Not only will pink toenails screw up her own kid, but others who are "affected." Ugh.

Jon Stewart also commented, hilariously -

Unknown said...

I saw this ad just the other day and thought absolutely nothing of it (other than "Ooh, I love Essie Nailpolish.")

It is amazing what people can twist around into a controversy. I'm not a mother but I know many little boys (friends' children or those I've babysat) who have played with nailpolish now and then. As far as I know, not a single one is transgendered - and if they are? WHO CARES!

I think the stronger message in this ad, if there is any, (hello this is J Crew, nothing that deep!) is that of a parent taking time to play and laugh with their kids. I can't find a single fault with that.

Unknown said...

What's wrong with a little boy wanting to 'copy mummy' and have his nails painted?" Why do adults much such a fuss about a bit of fun. If they were painted black would people still think it is wrong? Either way, nail polish is not permanment!

DaddyNatal said...

Interestingly most men If they are totally honest would admit to having slight uneasiness about seeing their son dressing up as girl or princess or wearing make up. Why? who knows insecurity maybe? but definitley something that causes a pause.

The attacks on this advert are ridiculous in claims it promotes transgender or gayness! Nothing of the sort.

Im with liveotherwise in respect of clever marketing which leaves me a little uneasy. That said maybe for men if more of this was around then they would feel less inclined to possibly inhibit the fantasy world of our children.

That is the most important thing, dressing up, play acting should never be stunted in our children it is part of their development. We should never seek to inhibit our children's creativity society will do that all to well as they get older.

Melaina25 said...

So glad to see so many rational people!

Jax & DaddyN: I really don't think this was a marketing ploy; if it was Benetton, yes I'd say maybe, but J Crew caters to a very conservative crowd. I don't think this was something they did to get press.

Little M said...

Fine if he likes pink, but WHY is she painting his toe nails?! I have never seen that before.Yeah, I'm not loving this at all. Sorry. Makes me uncomfortable

Melaina25 said...

Little M, my friend was painting her nieces' and daughter's toenails this summer and her 4 year old son asked why he wasn't allowed to get his painted. She said he could have them done if he wanted so he got pink toes, too.

What's the harm? Who says nail polish is "only for girls" other than cultural norms?

SusanKMann said...

I think pre-school everything should be unisex. They should be allowed to play with what they want, dress how they want and do what they want regardless or whether it's stereotypically boy or a girl. I personally wouldn't paint my son's toe nails but I don't have a problem with it. My hubby on the other hand thinks there should be a line between boy and girl things. I tend to scrub this line. Each to their own as long as they are happy and safe. x

Expat mum said...

It's a reflecction of what goes on over here all the time. IMO people are so insecure about themselves and what they are doing that they have to stick their noses in and tell other people how to run their lives.
For me, it's not about the "she'll make him gay" argument, (clearly so ridiculous it's not even worth my time) but the fact that these people just never stop with this garbage.
And for the record, I have a scary looking, 6'3" 15 year old, who wears only black and a huge mohawk - and bright pink ear plugs when he's playing his guitar!

Gwen said...

I can't believe all the fuss over this picture. The child looks happy and healthy. This is what happens when we let the extreme right have a voice in mainstream media. Before these people were your weird old aunts or uncles that everyone just smiled and nodded their head at and now people take them seriously. GAH why is the world going down the crapper?

Helen said...

It's crazy how people react to such stereotyping such as pink being for girls only. So if my son tried to buy a Powerpuff Girls doll would the store refuse him for not being a girl? No because that would be bloody insane! if my son grows up and likes girly things like Barbie dolls or the colour pink then so be it.
Man people need to open their eyes.

PapaJohn said...

Girl plays with dad doing boy stuff - so cute!

Boy plays with mom doing girl stuff - look out!

People who have a problem with this are people who have a problem.

Kids who play with their parents and are free to do what they are drawn to have no problem - accept perhaps the People mentioned above.

chrisotherwise said...

"...most men If they are totally honest would admit to having slight uneasiness about seeing their son dressing up as girl or princess or wearing make up. Why?"

Because unconsciously, we are brought up to believe that women are inferior to men. If a girl plays with a boy's toy or wears a boy's colour then she is raising her status. She is a tomboy, somebody to be admired.

But if a boy plays with a girl's toy or likes pink then he is lowering his status to that of a girl and is open to ridicule as a result. He can't *possibly* want to be like a girl, so he must be "gay" or "transgendered" or some other label.

So perhaps by saying "hey, it's cool for my son to like pink", Jenna is being more of a feminist than she realises...

Great post BTW!

Kismet21 said...

I just posted about this myself and linked to your blog (and quoted you.) I agree with you 100%.

Laura McIntyre said...

Really great post :)

Honestly my son spends alot of his time with painted nails - with two big sisters it is going to happen. How could i even begin to explain to a 2 year old that he is not allowed the same things as his sister because he is a boy.

I think its cute on him

Jessica said...

Okay. I'm clearly behind, but this is crazy. I may start painting Joey's toenails pink just because I can. And because it would be cute. It wouldn't be the first time either.