A response to the media:

Tara Aday

A little more than a week ago, J. Crew mailed an advertisement to its customers that featured president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails a vibrant hot pink.

“Lucky for me,” Lyon’s quote reads, “I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink.”

I was surprised to see that an ad featuring a young boy who likes pink nail polish could garner such adverse reactions.

Conservative media outlets, including Fox News’ Dr. Keith Ablow, engaged in rampant gender policing, claiming painting a boy’s toe nails pink somehow causes “psychological sterilization” in which children are propagandized into choosing a gender that is not “naturally” in alignment with what lies between their legs.

There is nothing natural or concrete about gender identity. Having a penis does not naturally make all men want to embrace masculinity, and the lack of gender conformity seen within society is evidence of this disparity.

At the same time, a binary system exists where rigid constructions of gender fight against the fluid characteristics of identity—hair, body shape, nonverbal communicators, inflection and so on.

In almost all instances, society uses an array of defining characteristics to determine an individual’s gender, but when it comes to challenging these gender norms, all that matters is the contents of someone’s shorts, skirt or leopard-print jeggings.

So, what’s the big deal?

The color of a child’s toe nails, regardless of their gender, will have no bearing on their sexual preferences as an adult, nor can nail polish be viewed as the causality to future transgendered issues as Ablow argued.

Yet, the reaction to this ad is a reminder of the constant gender policing that exists today. The plethora of homophobic and sexist reactions truly reveals the dangers of a system that shuns and outcasts those who step outside the norms of gender.

The only damage that can really be caused from a situation like a boy painting his nails pink or wanting to dress as a princess is going to be caused by a society that is too closed-minded to embrace someone for who they choose to be.

The deaths of numerous LGBT students last year were not caused by “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children,” which Albow threatened against. Instead, the bullying and harassment of these youth were likely fueled by the caustic rhetoric similar to what is circulating in the media now.

As Lady Gaga implores in her recent single, “Born This Way,” the formation of gender identity is tied much more to nature than it is to nurture.

The way in which we establish and create gender in today’s society will no doubt determine the treatment of gender in the future. What, then, will the world of tomorrow look like? Will gender remain as a rigidly constructed wall between the two sexes, or will the cracks in that wall begin to show? And if it does, as it seems to be, is that really anything to fuss over?

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