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Letting Boys be Boys Sometimes Means Letting Them Wear Pink

Not all boys play with trucks and not all girls wear pink. How conscious are you of gender stereotypes and roles with your children?

I saw this ad and had to ask the Moms Council, is this a big deal?

According to CBS, Fox News, and a host of other news outlets and blogs, it is.

The ad is for J. Crew nail polish, and it shows  the J. Crew president and her son, laughing on a bed.  The son's toenails are painted bright pink. A quote on the website reads: "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

Meagan Braganca doesn't see any problem: Why would anyone be upset over painted nails?

Jill Berry said it reminded her of this news story about transgendered children where a mom and dad are allowing their little boy to dress and act like a girl 24/7 largely because the boy does not see himself as a boy. The parents are caught between a rock and a hard place. Their son is so much happier now, but they know the road ahead will be hard for him.

We're not going to solve any grand questions about nature vs. nurture here, but what do you think? If your son loves pink, why would that a problem? Is it okay at home but not in public?

Is painting a boy's toes pink the same as cross-dressing? Does it really speak to gender identity, or is it just about fun?

And, as this ABC News anchor asked: What if it were a girl playing with GI Joes? Would the Internet chatter be the same?

Claudia Chang April 13, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Brandie - I have to comment on this one! My son is almost four. I'm all about ' let them find themselves and figure out who they are and what they like'. However, I would not encourage anything beyond the norm for a boy/man. In addition, my husband would have a heart attack because he would never touch pink or any other pastel for that matter. He cringes at the pastel Easter clothes for men. This ad to me is about ' it's ok to be different' and it's very extreme. That's fine. If I'm shopping with my son one day and he wants a pink shirt, that's fine too because he decided that. I will not encourage it however by taking him to get his eyebrows waxed or even putting clear on his nails. That's crazy!
Anne Gonnella April 14, 2011 at 12:01 AM
When did the world decide that pink was a color exclusively reserved for girls? It's a color, that's all, and in my house there are no limitations on what color you are allowed to like, for boys or girls. If I had a boy and he wanted to wear pink or paint his toes, it would be no different than if my daughter wants to wear camo or play with cars. Why not? The world outside will do a good enough job of limiting my child's choices and crushing her creativity; I don't need to start at home.
Brandie Jefferson April 14, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Claudia, your comment really makes me wish some dads would weigh in! Just for the record, I am all in favor of guys in pink.
Brandie Jefferson April 14, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Anne, my heart totally sank when I read this: "The world outside will do a good enough job of limiting my child's choices and crushing her creativity; I don't need to start at home." I think it's true, but so sad.
DW April 18, 2011 at 03:19 PM
The biggest problem parents face is educating their children with personal beliefs. If you teach Bobby that a certain color is "not normal" then you risk Bobby punishing Jimmy for being "not normal". This is called bullying, or bigotry. Howard County is hyper diverse, you cannot limit your Childs understanding of differences. If you want them to grow up being a thoughtful, caring, educated, productive member of society, they need to be taught tolerance. If you look around, you will see the colorful world we live in and that putting misunderstandings in your young Childs head Is a huge disservice to them. Their brains are not developed enough to make decisions which best reflect their personalities and they are mimics. They love mommy and daddy and often engage themselves in copying actions which match the ones they love. Seriously, men get manicures, wear bright clothing, have plastic surgery, play the violin, and other activities which doesn't ruin their masculinity. Not all men run bulldozers.
Brandie Jefferson April 18, 2011 at 03:53 PM
DW's comment reminds me of the first time I found out that my grandfather -- a gun-shooting farmer from North Carolina who kept wild dogs as "pets" (I'm not making that up) -- never missed an appointment with the manicurist. And, to DWs point, I was a little girl when I found that out, and now it doesn't strike me as odd or feminine when I hear about men getting their nails done, no matter their sexual orientation or how "manly" they appear otherwise. I guess what I took from that was, not only can men wear nail polish, but they can wear nail polish AND drive a tractor. I think I've extrapolated that to most gendered activities.

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