Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The "transgendered identity politics" of little boys who like hot-pink nails

So, more ridiculousness. The president of the J. Crew clothing company is being raked over the coals for painting her son’s toenails.

Why? Because, of course, some people assume she is “trying to make her son gay.”

As I noted in a previous post, I’m really darned certain that one person can’t turn another person gay. That makes it doubly foolish that the ad that features the woman, Jenna Lyons, is upsetting so many people. The story was, in fact, one of the lead news items on the Today Show this morning.

The ad is here:

Yep, Ms. Lyons seems to have painted her son’s toenails, and the photo of her having done so is accompanied by a quote regarding how lucky she is to have a son who loves hot pink. She’s a pretty woman, and the little boy, Beckett, is cute. They look really happy. All in all, it’s a visually pleasing ad.

But read these comments from other blogs and media outlets:

  • “Social conservatives are accusing the popular clothing brand of trying to turn kids gay. Commentator Erin Brown of the right-leaning Media Research Center went so far as to call the ad ‘blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.’ She also accused J. Crew of exploiting Lyons' son for its liberal agenda.”
  • "J.Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.”
  • “Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your 'innocent' pleasure. This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."
“Liberal, transgendered identity politics”? Puh-leeze. I look at the ad and see a happy little boy who probably simply likes looking down at his feet and seeing a bright color, and a happy-looking mom who appears to adore her son and be totally fine with painting his nails. That’s pretty much all I see.

And, thankfully, some smart people agree with me. According to ABC News:

“Advocacy groups and some medical professionals are dismissing the uproar as ridiculous. Dr. Jack Drescher of the American Psychiatric Association tells ABC there is no scientific evidence to suggest painting a young boy's nails pink can make him gay or transgendered when he grows up.”

When my son, Scott, 22, was 4,he loved makeup and nail polish. He would ask me to paint his nails, and I’d happily do it. He also loved costumes and would cry unless I’d agree to pin his Batman cape to his clothing and allow him to wear it everywhere we went. He also enjoyed art and music and hockey and dogs and Ninja Turtles.

In short, he was a little boy with a variety of interests. Now he’s a man with a variety of interests. Oh, and by the way, he happens to be heterosexual. (Those who know me know that if he happened to be homosexual, that would be awesome as well, but for the sake of illustrating the lack of relationship between toenail-painting and sexual preference, I’m simply pointing out that in Scott’s case, there wasn’t one.)

We also knew, when my kids were little, a boy who loved to dress like a girl. He would come over to play with Scott, but would raid Caroline’s closet and hang out in a princess costume and heels. His parents, not thrilled, forbade him from touching feminine clothing. They dressed him in camo gear and made him go out for football and baseball. He’s in his early 20s now, and despite the athletic overload, he happens to be gay.

The point is: Kids are who they are. They’re pre-programmed with a genetic code, and that code will point them toward Barbie or books or horseback riding or paintball. Later, when they’re older, it will point them toward the people with whom they will fall in love. No amount of camo gear will change that personal compass.

So, Jenna Lyons, good for you, and good for your son. When I look at that ad, I see a relationship that warms my heart and takes me back … and a little boy who knows that he won’t be judged for liking something a little boy isn’t “supposed” to like. That in itself makes me want to order something from J. Crew right now.


  1. Wow! First of all, shame on anyone who thinks there is something wrong with being gay or transgendered. Get over it, people! This is not a new phenomenon, nor is it something you can stop. So just frikkin' embrace it already. For those who believe in God, you should know already that only God can judge. So in short, shut the f*** up.
    Second of all, I really don't see how this ad is pushing a "liberal agenda". It's sweet and quirky. The boy is adorable, and his mom is awesome. End of story.
    Ugh... some people make me sick.

  2. I heard this on the Today show. It made me sad. All the little boys I have known, have at some point, wanted their toenails or finger nails polished. What's the big deal? They are just imitating their moms or big means nothing! Some people need to get a life and worry about important things in life! Thanks for your post Lisa!