Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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When Did Pink Get so Loaded?

Jenna Lyons and Her Son

Last week a picture of a J. Crew’s creative director, Jenna Lyons, and her son depicted them with hot pink toenails and including the description “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
Well. You would have thought the end of the world was nigh.

“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” said psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow in a Health column.
And Media Research Center’s Erin Brown called the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”
What’s the big deal? When did pink get so loaded?

According to my research, pink has only been a “girl” color for 50 years. That’s hardly a huge support of how our culture is shedding long-established gender trappings. Especially prior to WWII, pink was for BOYS and blue was for GIRLS. I have yet to come across an article in LIFE magazine in the 1950s talking about the horrors of blue for boys and how everything good and right is abandoning us.

When my 3 year old son spied a huge pink Barbie car at Costco last Christmas his eyes lit up with wonder. “I want THAT!” he said breathlessly. I’m pretty sure that means he’ll be a swishy, Friend of Dorothy, out and proud gay. Oh, wait, that’s ridiculous? I know. (Did I get him the pink car? No, because spending $250 on a driveable electric car for a 3 year old is stupid, not because it’s pink.)
However, I find myself in a bit of a quandary over pink as well. I’m expecting a girl and I absolutely do not want a wardrobe filled with carnation, fuscia, baby, or bright pink. I know some of it is inevitable; I can roll with well-intended gifts. But just as I’m supportive of a son who would want to wear pink, I’m a little leary of dressing a girl in just pink. Is this my own pink double standard?

I don’t think pink will make my sons gay, but I don’t want my daughter to live in a sparkly pink plastic princess world.

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Comments (15)

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  4. inge 04/21/2011 at 12:58 am

    Whaaaah! It’s the same here in Holland. I live in a small town where the majority thinks painted nails make gay’s out of boys… whahahaha! seriously! But my boy proudly walks with the same nailpolish as mum… not pink by the way… beautiful black! And I think his daycare centre is cool to; they are also polishing happily ever after. They are the best, acoording to my son. They have more colours; including PINK!!!

  5. Jill 04/18/2011 at 5:39 pm

    I saw this on the news – I was not offended at all with the boy in pink toenails – my son since age 3 liked to paint his toe nails bc I had my nails painted…then as he got older in Kindergarten and 1st grade he would get his fingernails painted at the school carnivals…and it never bothered me nor him. I think its fine with young boys to paint toe nails and fingernails bright colors wheater it be pink, yellow, or green, bright colors, dark colors,,,, its what they like right now and are having fun? Whats wrong with having fun?? He is still young and getting ready to be 7 soon. When he gets to be in Middle school and high school maybe I will worry…but for now He is enjoying life to the fullest! Why break it? I know some of you will agree with me too!

  6. N 04/18/2011 at 1:58 pm

    I agree with Wendi. Awesome bonding moment between mother and son.
    Growing up I was the BIGGEST tomboy ever. I refused to wear anything girly until I was about 14. I played cars with my brother, we made mud towns in our backyard, and we played transformers on our trampoline. I love to go hunting and fishing and my favorite color is olive drab, but I still love to scrapbook, shop, and bake.
    Doing all of those boyish things didn’t screw up my gender identity or whatever.
    And guess what, doing all of those boyish thing, my brother still turned out gay.
    What do you say to that Dr. Ablow?

  7. Wendi 04/18/2011 at 1:25 pm

    Love the picture! It’s just another special bonding moment between mom and son. I say grab as many of those moments as you possibly can because time slips by so quickly.

    Thankfully, my husband gracefully accepts that, of course, our son wants to play with his friend’s pink and sparkly “My Little Pony.” My son doesn’t have one, and frankly, sparkles are cool. We both know that our son is all boy, and nothing pink or sparkly will ever change that. I must admit, however, it is a small comfort to my husband when our son pretends the doe-eyed pink pony is dive-bombing to slay the big, bad dragon.

    While I wish we lived in a world where opinions like Dr. Keith Ablow’s are dismissed as ridiculous, I understand where my husband’s discomfort stems. When raising a confident, independent child in Texas (or elsewhere), you’re constantly fighting the urge to protect your child from unnecessary ridicule while balancing your parental responsibility to fight the ridiculous.

    It’s a personal judgment call. As long as your child is growing up to be happy, healthy and wise — your methods are working.

  8. Marguerita 04/18/2011 at 12:59 pm

    Has anyone seen if this issue was picked up by the author Peggy Orenstein? I am reading her book “Cinderella ate my Daughter” and this is essentially the issue of the book. I am only a few chapters in, but an interesting read so far.

  9. Rachael Herrscher 04/18/2011 at 12:25 pm

    As a total tom boy growing up and a mother of the girliest sparkly bedazzled hair doing, nail painting, outfit changing girl in the world I totally gave pink the double standard. I avoided it. But it was like she was genetically programmed to seek it. Not just pink, anything bright and sparkly would do the trick. I don’t think we need to avoid it – I don’t think we need to evangelize it. I just think we need to let our kids be and be drawn to what THEY like best

    • Jill 04/18/2011 at 7:10 pm

      I agree with your comment….let the kids have fun while they are young…what difference does it make anyway…. good for you. 🙂

  10. Kathleen 04/17/2011 at 10:09 pm

    My favorite colors are blue and green. Does that make me less feminine? And judging by the fact that most adult women do not wear head to toe pink & purple, I’m guessing that most people have figured out that colors do not signify gender identity.

    I have 2 boys and when they see my painted toenails, they want them too. If I had a nail polish I felt was non-toxic enough, I’d paint their nails and wouldn’t think twice about it. They’re kids; what’s the big deal?

    • Rachael Herrscher 04/18/2011 at 12:26 pm

      I went to Africa in college for a summer. We took along a bunch of nail polish for the ladies. The men, with NO social reference to painting finger nails ALL wanted their nails painted. Why not? We didn’t speak their language and couldn’t have begun to tell them “It’s more for girls”. So we did. And they loved it. 🙂

      • Jill 04/18/2011 at 7:14 pm

        Like I said – I think its fine what little boys want. I too would paint my nails and my son when he was little (age 7 now) always wanted his nails painted – so I did – ya I had some looks at the swimming pools but I did not care… now my son gets his nails painted at the school carnival….:)

  11. Erica Fehrman 04/15/2011 at 12:38 pm

    Spanish bullfighters have a lot of machismo and they wear bright pink stockings. And sequins.

  12. amyallenjohnson 04/15/2011 at 10:51 am

    FWIW, my daughter picked blue for her room and it continues as her fav, she’s had ample pink in the closet, but brown, navy and purple have sufficiently balance the pink factor.