Recently, J. Crew president and creative director, Jenna Lyon’s has come under fire for an email marketing ad that was sent to customers highlighting some of her products. Featured in a photo was her son, Beckett, wearing their Essie hot pink nail polish. The quote accompanying the image reads:
“Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
This sent Fox News Contributor and psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, over the edge. He recently wrote:
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—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.
He goes on to make more blanket actuations against society and predicts ruin for our species, “…encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil.”
But what are we really talking about here? What are the issues this images represents?
- pink is a feminine color
- wearing nail polish is a feminine act
- environment determines gender identity and sexual orientation
The first two points are easily dismissed as a cultural construct – something that will go in and out of fashion and vary from gender to gender and country to country.
Incas decorated their fingernails with pictures of eagles. In the Chou Dynasty of 600 BC, Chinese royalty used gold and silver to enhance their nails.
Nails, an industry magazine reports that, “…at one time black was the favorite color applied to fingernails, and that men — not women — wore it. A warrior of Babylon or Homo about to go to war often spent several hours having his hair lacquered and curled, his nails manicured and colored, and his lips tinted to match.”
I’m fairly certain the Babylonian army went out to kill, not prance around in their matching lips and nails and curled hair.
Then there is our culture’s obsession with the color pink for girls. Would it interest you to know that prior to the 1940s, pink was considered a masculine color for boys – a form of muted red? Likewise, blue was the preferred color for girls. Want more proof? Watch any really old Disney movie. What color is Cinderella wearing? What color is Sleeping Beauty wearing? Blue.
Again, fashion and cultural norms change. What really gets people upset about is my last point: making your child gay (or transgender).
In response to this particular story, ABC news interviewed Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York City psychiatrist:
“Most research on gender identity and sexual orientation concludes that neither is a choice. Nor can they be shaped by a parent’s wishes.”
Drescher, who wrote the 2010 paper, “Queer Diagnoses,” which was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, serves on the American Psychiatric Association’s committee that is addressing sexual and gender identity disorder for the DSM-V. DSM-V is psychiatry’s encyclopedia of behavioral diagnoses.
“I can say with 100 percent certainty that a mother painting her children’s toe nails pink does not cause transgenderism or homosexuality or anything else that people who are social conservatives would worry about,” he said.
People, you can’t make your child gay. You cannot make your child transgender. If your child is gay or transgender and your household is not approving or accepting – they will hide it, not flaunt it. Your son will go out of his way to prove that he is straight and gender conforming.
However, if you provide a loving home – with unconditional love – and encourage your child to be who they really are, they will love you more for it. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen if your son likes nail polish? Is it either the worry that he will steal yours or that he will spill some on the carpet?