Is There Anything Wrong With Painting A Boy’s Toenails Pink?

I heard about a recent brouhaha over a J Crew ad that come out in which a designer has painted her young son’s toenails pink.  In the ad, designer Jenna Lyons says “Lucky for me I ended up with a baby whose favorite color is pink.  Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Over at Fox News, Dr. Keith Ablow criticized the designer’s decision to paint her son’s toes pink  Dr. Ablow claims in his criticism “This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such ‘psychological sterilization’ [my word choice] is not known.”

He also states “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.”  He goes into more in the article about the ramification on society of actions such as these.  The doctor goes on to make this an issue of trying to muddle the issue of gender identity in our society, claiming that we may end up as a people who no longer wish to nurture children or fight in combat.  Take a look at the Fox News article, I’ll wait.

Huh?  All that over pink nails?  Really?

Here’s the ad for you to see for yourself:

J Crew Pink Toenails Ad

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What do you think of it?  Is it as bad as Dr. Ablow makes it out to be?

Here’s what I think – Did J Crew produce the ad knowing it might stir up some controversy?  I really wouldn’t be surprised.  They probably did.  And it’s worked to some degree.  But I also think Dr. Ablow is totally overblown in his reaction.  TOTALLY.

I think we, as a society, have a tendency to project ideas onto our children that our kids are too young to realize.  A young pre-schooler may very well see nail polish as any other paint, and pink as one of many colors to choose from.  It’s not that big a deal.

It’s us, as adults, who look at the color and the action and say “no, we can’t have a boy do something that a girl should do.”

I don’t think pink nail polish on a boy will spin our society into moral depravity.  Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, nail polish is really not on my list of things to worry about for my son.

Will I go and paint my son’s nails?  No.  That would be silly (we’ve done far sillier things like walk around the house with underwear hats, but that’s a story for another day).  But silly is a whole different thing than what Dr. Ablow is making this all out to be.

I don’t know.  I think sometimes adults need to grow up and stop snickering and just let kids be kids and play.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About Glen

Glen is married and the father to four children that he spends the day chasing as a stay-at-home-dad. He took an interest in personal finance when he realized most of his paycheck was going toward credit card bills. Since then he's eliminated his credit card debt and started on a journey towards financial freedom.

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  1. Good thing there are no earthquakes or wars or repression or murders or torture in the world so we can focus our full attention on the evils of pink. Barbie – you’re next!

    • I know! I wonder if Dr. Ablow would be so upset if they used black nail polish (I’ve been guilty of that back in my band days)?

  2. I can’t believe how everyone is blowing this out of proportion. I had a pedicure done before easter, and then my 2.5 yr old daughter wanted her nails painted, so I did them for her. My oldest son who is 6, wanted in on the action. He is autistic and wouldn’t understand that although I wouldn’t mind it if his nails were painted, the other kids in his class might make fun of him, and we don’t need anything else to give them fodder for trouble. So we opted to do his toes, and chose a nice blue color. He loves them.

    • Sounds like you made the right decision. The only reason a boy would think it’s wrong to do their nails is if we tell them that’s the case.

      I’m not running out to get my son’s nails done but I want him to be open-minded enough that if he sees another boy that he doesn’t think much of it.