Recently, Fox News made a big fuss about a J. Crew ad showing a happy mom and her child (real-life famiy members) showing off his freshly painted neon pink toe nails. Fox News was convinced that nail polish, especially a “girl color” like pink, will make a boy less of a boy. Hogwash.
What I saw when I looked at the ad was a delightful kid doing what little kids love to do: have fun with a parent, decorating his toes in a fun color. The brouhaha about the ad reminded me of the time I took my twin daughters out for a walk. One wore a pink snowsuit, while the other wore a blue one. A woman stopped at the crosswalk near us and complimented me on my cute boy and girl.
“Thank you,” I said, “But these are both girls.” She said, “Oh, they can’t be!” she said. “One’s wearing blue.” Excuse me? Girls are assumed to be boys simply for wearing blue? And boys are assumed to be girls if they wear pink? Or pink nail polish? I identify as female, yet I played in mud and creeks as a kid, chucking pebbles into pools of water. My ninth birthday was celebrated on Big Creek, where my mom chaperoned me and five girl friends enjoying a pollywog and minnow hunt in icy water.
Gender identity has nothing to do with how parents support their kids’ play or what they put on them, from names, to clothes, to nail polish. Some boys who wear nothing but denim and trucker hats may identify as more female than male someday–or even 100% female, despite biologically male bodies. Girls competing in beauty pageants with sky-high piles of ringlets and lipstick may someday identify as males, as masculine as the next guy.
The J. Crew ad made me happy, so I joined the Pink Piggies campaign, painting my toe nails pink to show support for gender-neutral joy. I wish all the worriers would give it a rest. Let kids be kids, free to enjoy nail polish, baseball, tutus and mud. And pollywogs.
To read another perspective, written by someone who knows the mom and child in the ad, click here. To “like” the Pink Piggies campaign on Facebook, click here. To learn more about whether nail polish is safe for kids of any gender, click here.