Pink nails on boys- J Crew article

It isn't often that a news article really gets inside my head!

This one which simply has a photo of a young boy with pink nail varnish on his nails in a child's brand of clothes advert really makes you think. Not at face value, but when you look at some of the discussion and delve a little deeper, some of the implications begin to make you ask questions.

The article was in the Wall Street journal.
It is really worth a look and the comments just keep on coming.
It even spawned further discussion through 'The Mad Momma'
another blog I enjoy.

In my mind, pink for girls and blue for boys is rubbish.  Kids like bright colours and it is often dependent on their characters as to how much attention they wish to pursue.  BUT, and it is a big but, you cannot look at society without accepting the gender connotations that match with colour.  These are so strong that children will throw tantrums if they don't have their favourite colour top or decide they are not thirsty if the drink is in the wrong colour cup!

I think parents need to lead in terms of pushing children to make their own choices but also be aware of the societal expectations.  It is important to have gender differences, I still believe that a boy should be a boy and a girl should be a girl.  Yes, as defined by society, but it allows you to enjoy the colours of grey in between too when you are happy with the understanding of who you are.

The point of this article, again in my mind, is that a parent perhaps should not portray their son in pink decorated and painted nails on a world stage.  This is close to exploitation.  The parent understands societies connotations, the child does not.  The child however is subject to peer pressure and all the negativity that potentially surrounds his parent's choice.
Young children are not trend setters, multi national marketing companies are.  Whilst they can manipulate kids into tweens wanting padded bras and boys wearing Ben Ten merchandise, a parent has to be more circumspect.

The idea of gender and how it can and has been manipulated by society is fascinating.
I think roleplay for kids is great fun and important.  I think fathers having play fights with their daughters and painting boy's toenails with rainbow colours is great in the family home BUT on a global scale, sometimes there is a need to have closed doors for exploration of what a child wants to wear, do and how they act in public.

What is your take on this?



  1. The whole history around "blue for boys" is that the boy was the favored child, so they would get blue clothes, which is said to protect you. Girls would wear brown or whatever the family had because they WERE NOT SPECIAL TO THE FAMILY'S BLOODLINE. They did not pass on the family name, so they could not wear the expensive blue clothing.
    Eventually, years later, they felt it necessary to give girls a color, just because. Tada! Pink is now the girl's color, for no special reason whatsoever.
    I'm not even a feminist, and this offends me. I refuse to stick my daughter into a stereotyped box. She does do "girlie" things like ballet [that boys do too], cook [like her dad does too] and pick flowers [which boys do too]. She also does "boyish" things like play with tonka trucks, play football and dig in the mud.
    And yes, I've been told by family that "You need to learn that you have a little girl, and not a boy". I say to hell with the stereotypes. My daughter is going to do what she wants to do as long as it's not a harm to her or anyone else, and I refuse to make her fit into a box.
    And if someone pushes it, I will adress them, hopefully in a nice manner. ;)
    Great topic. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hmmm.... Great topic! Children are naturally curious and as far as I'm concerned, that's perfectly healthy. When a child is pre-school aged, wanting to experience the opposite gender's toys or clothes is just part of that curiosity. I've always believed that attempting to squelch a child's creativity and imagination only serves to confuse and upset them.

    That being said, (with all due respect to the mom in the article) because society has such specific opinions about gender, I can't say I agree that the pages of a popular, widely circulated catalog quite fit the kind of "safe" environment that children should have to express that curiosity. Just my humble opinion....

    (There's a lot more to it, but I don't want to take up all of your comment space! LOL)

  3. Stopping by from the hop and "liked" your Facebook page.. I don't try to judge others but my boys wouldn't be allowed to do this. Socially, they would make a spectacle of themselves which would lead to unintended consequences from "friends."

    All my best,

    Facebook: claytonpaulthomas

  4. I thought it was pretty crappy for this mother to put her son in a public ad. Especially since, as Rachel Silverman of the Wall Street Journal article stated, "he may not have the wisdom to choose for himself how he wants to be portrayed." I can see this catalog image haunting this kid for years to come. I mean, can't you just imagine the merciless teasing he'll receive at the hands of classmates and adults alike? Or how about some random bully blowing this thing up to poster size and tacking it up on the wall of his high school, college dorm or cubicle at work? The mother should've REALLY considered the potential repercussions of her actions before doing this, but it's too late now. The (future) damage is already done. She should've kept this mommy/son bonding activity private because, honestly, the world didn't need to know.

    This fingernail polish thing reminded me of the mother whose son enjoys wearing dresses. And how did she deal with his feminine fascination? She created a book about him and paraded him around the talk show circuit calling him the "Princess Boy." Again, this boy's personal activity should've been kept away from the media and remained within the four walls of his home where he is safe. By exposing him to the world, she has opened him up to mass ridicule and scrutiny for the rest of his life. What a shame.


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