J. Crew ad horror: Boy has painted toenails!
It's turning out to be a funny week for gender issues in advertising. We have the girly dudes getting slapped in the Manwich spots. We have the woman compared to a used car in the auto-dealer ad. And now, we have this J. Crew ad featuring (horror of horrors) a boy with his toenails painted pink. Some people seem unbelievably upset by the image, which appears on the J. Crew site. Their outrage coalesces in this Fox News story, in which Erin Brown of the Media Research Center actually calls the ad "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children." In a separate column, Brown blames J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons, the woman in the ad, for leading her son Beckett down a dangerous path. "Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future," Brown writes. "J. Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics. One has to wonder what young boys in pink nail polish has to do with selling women's clothing." Poor Beckett—he's screwed for life.
Erin Brown needs to pull that giant stick out of her ass. My mom put me in dresses, ballet classes and cheerleading...bought me dolls of all kinds. Now, I'm a big 'ol lesbo. The flannel-wearing, crew cut kind.
She also used to paint my cousin Joey's nails pink, hands and feet...and tell him to let his wrist flop and say, "Me mahu." Or I'm gay in Hawaiian. Now, he's a ladies man and has pretty much hooked up with every woman under 40 at his job.
Posted by: doozie | Apr 12, 2011 1:19:13 PM
Why, that Beckett is an adorable sprite! Here's some light reading for Erin Brown who gets a failing grade in cultural history!
Posted by: Rebecca Cullers | Apr 12, 2011 1:24:18 PM
i heard craft service at this photoshoot served Manwiches and that kid ate like five of them
Posted by: Steve Welker | Apr 12, 2011 1:34:57 PM
Wow, amazing! I didn't know nail polish was strong enough to change a person's gender--and here's all these poor people shelling out big bucks for surgery when all they really needed was some Sally Hansen. Thank you, Erin Brown, for providing such insighful information.
Posted by: Jade | Apr 12, 2011 1:35:49 PM
Some of the comments on Facebook were pretty ridiculous too. Typical judgmental mommy stuff. I think it's wonderful that the designer is so open and supportive of her son because, as the copy states, pink is HIS favorite color. Not hers.
Posted by: Ben | Apr 12, 2011 1:41:49 PM
As a parent, I find the ad adorable. My male friends and I let one of the neighbourhood moms paint our toes once, and we thought it was funny. I wouldn't be surprised if my young son gets the same treatment from some of his female cousins. That's what's so awesome about childhood: fewer hangups.
Posted by: Tom Megginson | Apr 12, 2011 2:03:29 PM
Go Jenna! My four-year-old son is as "boyish" as they get, but he loves to wear necklaces and headbands. Why? Because his sister does, and he idolizes her! Maybe we could all someday lighten up a little, no?
Posted by: Mike Spring | Apr 12, 2011 3:16:57 PM
To people who don't work in advertising, welcome to the biz, where promoting transsexualism is cool while saying "Merry Christmas" is not.
Seriously people, this is SICK. If you want to pink the toes of a MAN pink, fine! I can accept that, but don't turn that poor little boy into a drag queen, he's waaaaay to young.
P.S. Even if that ad is "realistic," so is taking a crap, yet I don't think there are too many ads with men sitting on the toilet, right?
Posted by: PIL | Apr 12, 2011 3:40:55 PM
I still remember when my son was in 2nd grade and painted his fingernails black for fun with his sisters. He came home from school the next day crushed because his classmates made fun of him. It led to a good discussion about social pressure, how much to care about what others think, and some old photos of his mother and I during our punk days.
Posted by: Stephen | Apr 12, 2011 5:22:23 PM
I think every older sister dresses her younger brother up. And just about every little boy idolzes their mother and older sister--hence why lots of boys want nail polish, accessories, etc (Tom agrees with me!). It's a normal thing!
And PS if she's upset about this cute little ad, I wonder what she thinks about that gum commercial where the older sister puts a ton of make-up on her little brother..? Actually, I don't want to know what she thinks about that ad.
Posted by: Alex | Apr 12, 2011 5:26:03 PM
Yay! An agree-party... So I'll be the lone dissenter. I have a problem with this. I hate men who paint their nails - I want to punch them in the face. Go ahead and express yourself - especially as a kid, but we should all lament the day when this is normalized behavior that is encouraged by adults.
Posted by: Tim Das | Apr 12, 2011 7:27:49 PM
Alex, it's not normal. Sure, Erin Brown maybe got a little extra fired up about it, but it's not normal.
Frankly, I think PIL makes a good point. Why it is SO heinous to stay with tradition? I mean, OK, have your painted nails (as an adult), but don't go slamming other folks for being traditional. And I'm not referring to PIL or myself, but the nice receptionist at your Midwestern client's office, or your mechanic, or your aunt and uncle.
If people want "tolerance", they should remember it's a two-way street, and that "traditionalists" should be treated with respect and tolerance as well.
Posted by: Account Exec | Apr 12, 2011 7:30:46 PM
Thanks Account Exec, I'm glad you and Tim agree with me. Can someone explain me why is it that when one member of a minority finds something offensive we pull the ad yet JCREW doesn't mind offending millions of parents with this sick ad?
I would understand if the brand was HotTopic or if this was for a Marilyn Manson concert, but J. Crew?
Posted by: PIL | Apr 13, 2011 8:10:27 AM
Hey PIL, I thought you were big mr. libertarian. Live and let live right? You don't like J Crew's ads, don't buy J Crew's clothes. It's a color dude. That's all. Sick? Hardly.
Posted by: J | Apr 13, 2011 9:49:04 AM
@Account Exec, you said:
"If people want "tolerance", they should remember it's a two-way street, and that "traditionalists" should be treated with respect and tolerance as well."
EXACTLY! And being a "two-way street" (if you really believe this)the Traditionalists then must be tolerant and respectful of Non-Traditionalists. Why should Non-Traditionalists have to put up with non-stop fear-mongering and judgement from Fox News watching homophobes, yet they somehow deserve to have their delicate eyes and sensibilities shielded from a sweet picture of a mother/son moment?
The people who are offended by this picture and create an outcry, are the same people who are not offended nor, say a damn thing, when gay man is beaten to death. THAT is truly offensive.
Posted by: Tom | Apr 13, 2011 11:02:43 AM
Tom, way to generalize there! You're quite the paragon of tolerance yourself, I can see.
How can you so surely say that all traditionalists don't find someone being beaten to death for no real reason offensive? Some do say something against it too, but you're too busy condemning them to hear it.
Posted by: Account Exec | Apr 13, 2011 11:58:03 AM
Kids are all about the power if transformation..
Let them explore... You get your whole adult life to conform to societal
Posted by: Heidi | Apr 13, 2011 1:06:16 PM
I can't believe these comments I keep seeing on this article. Really people? Gender roles are completely put upon by society. Women are forced to display as weak and motherly, men are supposed to be strong and take care of people, all of this is B.S. So the people, the people of this age who really want to be who they are inside from the moment of birth get shunned and get faked into what society's "standards" are. It's depressing. Come on people, it is the year 2011. Let the woman paint her son's nails. He enjoys it, he likes the color, because that is who he is. He isn't being "turned" gay by the nail polish. Anyone who is gay is born that way. And anyway, it should be something to be proud of. I'm not lesbian, but I've always been a tomboy, and I threw away what society wanted me to become long ago. I play video games (supposed to be MANLY) and wear loose clothing (UN womanLike), play the trumpet (A Manly instrument) I still have friends and I'm more than happy in my life. All these thoughts on gender and what gender "should" be, are invisible, fake. That's why this article angers me. Yet, everyone's so concerned about this for some random reason. When I read the article, I was like "Hmm, that's cool." And for the people saying it's child abuse? What? There are such more serious issues to be talking about other than temporary paint!
Posted by: Spazz | Apr 13, 2011 1:55:03 PM
I disagree that this ad is "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children" or that the boy will now be led down a path of sexual confusion because his toenails were once painted pink. I am however very surprised J. Crew chose to make this one of its main ads, let alone the picture of its homepage. J. Crew is known for its higher priced, conservative clothing. This ad seems to contradict its image to an extent. If J. Crew was trying to lighten up its conservative image, I think this particular company could have taken a better approach. It was an interesting market move by J. Crew.
Posted by: John | Apr 13, 2011 2:53:57 PM
I apologize for my strong reaction, but your the one who put the 2-way street out there. My frustration is that your initial comments don't support the dogma of a 2-way street. The way I read it, the sensibilities of Traditionalists are more important than the rights of Non-Traditionalists to express themselves. A 2-way street implies that both sides are being accepted and tolerated...that's not happening here. If you truly support a 2-way street, I'm with you.
Just know that their are thousands of moms, sisters, babysitters and even fathers, today, that are painting the toenails of little boys and it's no big deal. Really.
Posted by: Tom | Apr 13, 2011 3:57:05 PM
"Hey PIL, I thought you were big mr. libertarian. Live and let live right?"
---Live and let live doesn't mean "don't make judgments." I am all for transsexuals having rights, I'm also supportive of self-expression, and I don't want the government to get involved in this issue. However, I also believe in common sense, in respecting your target audience, in doing offensive advertising only when it offends a minority of people and not the majority.
Let me put it this way, if my target audience was vegetarians I would not do an ad featuring hunters. If however, my target audience is PARENTS, I am not going to glamorize behavior that offends 90% of the parents.
"You don't like J Crew's ads, don't buy J Crew's clothes. It's a color dude. That's all. Sick? Hardly."
---I'm sure lots of people are not going to buy it, and if you don't think it's sick, then maybe you're a little sick yourself. By the way, do you not think that Michael Jackson having sleepovers with little boys was sick? Get some morals, dude!
Posted by: PIL | Apr 13, 2011 4:00:58 PM
Tom, I appreciate your response.
Perhaps if you go through the comments in the Manwich post, you'll see how a "traditionalist" like myself (who has been to the gay wedding of a friend, and other "non-traditional" stuff as well) might feel that folks with more traditional views get trashed by comments in ad/design boards/forums more often than otherwise. I'm not saying that's the case in the rest of the world, but on many of the ad/design boards I peruse, this is (sadly) the case.
And regarding the "no big deal" about the painting of toes. I disagree, but we're not likely to change each other's minds. I'll ask you to think about this. In my circle of friends and acquaintances, a gay couple were over at a friend's house, a couple who have a little boy. One of the gay ladies said (with a joking tone, but it wasn't a joking matter so far as I'm concerned) "Oh, M., I we're going to get you all confused about your sexuality". I'm not making this up, I'm not joking. This lady is often a fun person to hang out with at parties, but that sort of thing is NOT funny or cool. If the young boy grows up and discovers he's gay on his own, that's one thing. But to willfullly want to confuse a very young child (he was not quite three at the time) is as bad as any gaybashing there is.
Posted by: Account Exec | Apr 13, 2011 4:14:28 PM
Great point, Account Exec, in fact, most gays I know are "straight-acting" and even the queens know that you only wear pink nails when you're doing drag. Travestites on the other hand are straight men that enjoy wearing women's clothes. So unless the ad has to do with a boy who dresses like a girl to invade the girl's locker room and get some action, it's not justified.
Posted by: PIL | Apr 13, 2011 4:34:01 PM
I think most of you that have left comments are full of shit. I won't have my son wearing any pink and he's 3 years old. Nor would i ever pass on the notion that it's something "correct".
Posted by: Aldo | Apr 13, 2011 6:08:11 PM
Well, I'm one of transsexuals... Wow, there's a lot of fear in here...
Seriously, from what I know of my male cousins, at least five out of seven have messed with nail polish and makeup of some kind (and that's in the early 70s when I was a child). Having an older sister, almost assured that this would happen.
Yet, all five are now married with children. I, on other hand, was a very athletic tall boy (always picked first on teams) who never dressed up, or used makeup and see how that turned out.
Parents project on their children their own prejudices and fears when children often have none. I find this kind of sad.
For me, the picture is sweet, the mother probably discovered the boy painting his nails. Instead of freaking out, she laughed.
I have no doubt that J Crew's marketing knew what would be the reaction to this add and got exactly what they expected from it. All media is predictable.
Posted by: Kiera | Apr 14, 2011 12:42:27 AM
While I was a fan of the Manwich ad, I'm also a fan of this. Manwich was a humorous take on current social norms. Not to be taken seriously and not 'reinforcing' them in a dangerous way.
This is a scene portraying fun childhood play.
There's nothing wrong with this scene at all. Being a normal, well-adapted human being comes from experimenting, trail and error and play. Gender at 3 is basically nonexistent...it's only jaded adults who bring baggage to it.
Posted by: JEEZ | Apr 14, 2011 12:53:46 AM
This is an interesting debate. There are two issues/questions to be answered here: 1. Is the child too young to know what gender specific means? 2.Is paiting nails (let alone pink) gender specific? In my opinion: yes and no. This raises the question of when the modern day parent teaches their children about the differences between genders or just plain sexuality. Obviously the birds and the bees conversation needs to be taught much earlier in life as kids are engaging in realtionships at much earlier ages. (What can be dubbed the loss of innocence if you ask me)
Posted by: Swiss Neutral | Apr 14, 2011 2:02:12 AM
Completely remove your own opinion of what a little boy wearing pink nail polish means, because unless it presents a "clear and present danger", it doesn't matter. What does matter is what this image means to the target audience of J. Crew wearing moms who have sons that idealize them (natural for young children), and try out the stuff their mom does. I'm not seeing too many people the ad is directed at getting upset, instead you've put them in the position of arguing their case.
Posted by: Erika | Apr 14, 2011 8:49:44 AM
I want to see your research that says 90% of parents would not approve of this ad, because I'm calling bullshit on you.
Posted by: Jade | Apr 14, 2011 10:52:27 AM
I'm going to paint my kids toenails this weekend just because of this. Oh dear, I hope they don't want a feather boa next :-p
Posted by: Den | Apr 14, 2011 11:52:42 AM
Hes a little kid that doesnt know any better!WOW
Posted by: ? | Apr 14, 2011 4:20:34 PM
Live and Let Live, Why can't people just do as they please as long as it is not against some law on the books, I have never noticed any labels on nail polish bottles stating "For females only" As for the guy who likes the thought of punching guys out with pretty painted up toes, Come get me and see what happens to your sorry situation when I get down with you !
Posted by: Danny57B | Apr 15, 2011 8:48:11 AM
To the sorry bastard who thinks He's man enough to punch me out I meant in my last post, "Come and see what happens to your sorry ass when I get DONE with you, Not DOWN with you... Your total scumbag, Your what's wrong with the human race !
Posted by: Danny57B | Apr 15, 2011 8:52:48 AM
Hmm after see what it is... The biggest issues i have is the color choice. I get it as a little boy, or girl, as a child some times you do random things such as playing dress up, i was a big fan of playing doctor... so the actual act of painting the nail is not an issue. As the MOTHER you are responsible for the well being of your child, did you ever stop to think what it can do to the kid? Sure, in that moment it was a fun mommy son thing. But what about when hes at school? If his class mates find out of course hes going to get teased. Kids are mean, its not to say that they are bad, they just adhere to such a simple social order, to do anything against the norm of that order is social death... Painting the nails may or may not put out of the order... but them being pink would...
Posted by: Mardoqeuo | Apr 15, 2011 4:52:37 PM
Going against the "norm" is why woman vote, work, wear pants, etc. Also, Pink was considered a manly color until recently, norms change, they're not immutable.
Also, norms are highly variable and highly dependent on the point of view of the observer.
That's why a children will get teased even if they try staying inside this mental cell; they will always be someone who will find that he's straying outside. That's why peer pressure is so destructive, it's a pressure to conform to something that's a fuzzy movable target.
I think its better to talk to a child, reinforce his self esteem and make him strong and less likely to crumble under peer pressure.
Posted by: Kiera | Apr 16, 2011 7:27:17 AM
umm , hello. what day and age are we living in.. sometimes i feel as though this world is regressing instead of progressing.. we are torn between the baby boomers whom feel that there is only two ways of life.. ie.. women cook clean raise children and men are manly brave, work provide..and the modern adventurous teens, young adults.. whom are open to the world and experiences... no regrets just life lessons.. the way we act is passed on to our children..if we only want the best for our children than allow them to enjoy themselves.. to have fun, explore to just BE A CHILD... there is too much [pressure to mold them and that is what will eventually tear them apart..
so get a life ... just have fun.. we only have one life lets live it for the moments.. the smiles the happiness we can create....
Posted by: jenny | Apr 18, 2011 10:58:28 PM
Do a survey of kindergartners - pink is hands down the favorite color of all the boys as well as the girls. There are no gender-specific prefs at that age. My son wanted everything pink until about age 12, at which point he shunned all pink and we had to suddenly paint or trash everything he owned. This kid will grow up to be either super manly, a flaming queen or something in between, and his gender expression as an adult will have ABSOLUTELY NO RELATION to the color of his toenails in 2011.
Posted by: gregoryor | May 7, 2011 11:51:28 AM
Oh, for God's sake you people. It's nail polish. Get over yourselves. I love how all of these so-called "libertarians" are the ones screeching about a mother expressing her and her son's right to paint said son's toenails pink for a photo shoot. She's not piercing his nipples and putting him on a Pride float, dears.
Posted by: Michael | Jul 22, 2011 5:07:20 PM
An interesting bit of trivia... It is beleived by some that boys and men may not see color as intensely as girls and women. For that reason, guys tend to like brighter colors. Look at what colors they buy their cars, boats and motorcycles in, not to mention what instantly catches their eye when a girl wearing bright colors walks by.
Maybe, it's possible that this little guy actually does like bright pink because it's a fun and expressive color. And wanting to wear it on his toenails is nothing more than mimicking something he's seen his mother do many times, someone he adores and looks up to. You can read anything you want into it, but it's more probable that it's nothing more than a bit of harmless fun.
Posted by: Jake | Feb 26, 2012 9:31:04 PM
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