Boys with nail polish: so not a big deal

Jessica Ashley, Senior Editor

If you're only focusing on filing your taxes on time, considering the tremendous work of rebuilding post-disaster Japan, how to keep childhood obesity from invading your home and kids' schools, or whether or not we will ever be done with these wars, for crying out loud, STOP.

Something really pressing has happened, something dangerous and controversial has infested our Internet, seeped into our home computers, and possibly poisoned all we know and have built for our families!

It needs your attention now! This thing...this scary, scary thing...is a threat! A horror! Psychological warfare on the minds of consumers, parents, and possibly an entire generation!

What is this dire matter?

A boy wearing pink nail polish. Of course.

Perhaps you've seen the coverage spilling its way across reputable and questionable news sources. Or maybe you received the ad in the mail, an email blast sent out last week by J. Crew last week to customers who receive a feature called "Saturday with Jenna."

The promotion depicts store faves and product picks by J. Crew's president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. It has a personal feel, previously peeking inside her closet to sharing a story about her son's compliments on a favorite pair of sparkly heels.

This edition, however, showed a laughing Jenna Lyons and her son, Beckett. But what stands out among a plastic cup of crayons, the giggles, tossled wavy heads of hair, and two very expensive t-shirts, are Beckett's toes, painted bright pink.

Below the pastel piggie picture is this caption: "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

While J. Crew is trying to sell cargo pants and ribbon belts with the bonus of product placement for an Essie spring nail color through the lure of a relatable mom-ish spin and a free shipping offer, all kinds of people are in an uproar about this boy who has apparently been tossed across gender lines in the name of sales.

Erin Brown of the Media Research Center blasted the ad and pitied the child in an opinion post on the organization's site.

She sets up her charge by making deliberate mention of one fashionable FLOTUS and then launches into the child in the picture.

"J.CREW, a popular preppy woman's clothing brand and favorite affordable line of first lady Michelle Obama, is targeting a new demographic - mothers of gender-confused young boys," she writes. "At least, that's the impression given by a new marketing piece that features blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children."

But then she goes on to somehow point the finger at Jenna Lyons and the J. Crew crew to cash in on the child.

"Not only is Beckett like to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future. J.Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics," Brown opines.

Coverage on the Fox News website fanned the flames. However, a follow-up report on the site notes that a majority of people who tweeted about the controversy sided with author Jo B. Paoletti, who said critics are overreacting and most parents, in the privacy of their own homes, would say such a moment was no big deal. Adding more interest to the conversation, this site asks if news outlets should "make their sociopolitical beliefs known in their reporting and via social media (good question) and also note that Beckett's hipster glasses are far more concerning than his manicure.

(Jenna Lyons and the J. Crew spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Probably because Jenna was all wrapped up in her son's tutu and couldn't get to her phone in time. I KID!...It's a joke!)

It seems that the shouting over this ad capturing one little mama-son moment is really just by a few very conservative loud-mouths. They might not be speaking for all conservatives or even all J. Crew-haters. And clearly, they are not voicing the concerns of many, many parents.

How do I know? Because I happen to be a mother, perhaps like Jenna Lyons (minus the cha-ching cha-ching of gazillions of customers hinging on a montage of my very favorite products of the month), who has a small boy who loves the color pink. And living with me, it didn't faze him that he should not love it. That is, until uptight people felt free to chime in with unnecessary commentary like, "Wait until his dad finds out he says his favorite color is pink!" or "Does he also love show tunes?!"

People, please. No hue or nail polish - no matter how Pepto Bismol colored - ever turned a child gay. And not that I care what his father (my ex) says about our child listing pink as his third favorite color (it has slipped from first place since he found out his dad loves blue and green), I also don't give a fig what it indicates about his personality. Or his eventually emerging sexual identity. I think it says he looks around and sees a mom with a pink clutch bag or throw pillows or lipstick and, because he's still small, identifies and is pulled toward that. One day in the tween years, he'll probably deplore pink, ignore me, and scoff at J. Crew. Really, it's all good.

For now, it's common to see a magenta Silly Band strapped around his wrist, just like it might be just another thang to see Cotton Candee (or whatever color it is) expertly manicured on Beckett's tiny, chewed big toe. Or maybe as everyday as seeing a kindergarten girl wear her brother's hand-me-down jeans or wielding a Star Wars light saber with the boys during recess or (gasp) insisting on wearing a BLUE sweatshirt on school picture day instead of a princess dress.

It's just another day. Just another kid doing what kids do.No controversy, no judgments on sexual identity, no worldwide terror alert raised. Just maybe a few more pairs of scuffed up boyfriend jeans sold.

Big deal.


Be honest: Would you paint your boy's nails if he asked? Is this J. Crew ad really a big deal?



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