New J.Crew Ad Sparks Debate On Gender Identity Confusion

Boy With Pink Toenails Tickles Some, Outrages Others

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The notion that blue is for boys and pink for girls has been turned upside down. A new ad for J.Crew shows a 5-year-old boy with his toenails painted hot pink.

While some say it’s all in fun, others see danger, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

The new Internet ad shows a happy mother and son, doing something unconventional. Brooklyn’s Jenna Lyons, who is J.Crew’s creative director, is seen applying the hot pink polish on the toes of son, Beckett.

The caption reads “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink.”

“It’s just kids and moms having a good time,” said Pat Carpenter of Bright Waters, N.Y.

But not everyone is tickled pink by this image, with some saying they are concerned — even outraged and worried — that what is depicted here could lead to gender identity confusion in some children.

“I think it’s not the right message,” said Ziva Segal of the Upper East Side.

“A little bit weird not very. I wouldn’t like it for myself or my son,” added Antoine Courcelle, a tourist from Washington D.C.

Conservative columnist Erin Brown of the Media Research Center wrote, “propaganda pushing the celebration of gender-confused boys wanting to dress and act like girls is a growing trend, seeping into mainstream culture.”

The notion has led some to debate whether a child can be “turned” gay or transgender? Child psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell said no.

“Their gender is going to emerge naturally as part of who they are,” Dr. Bartell said. “Not from something you put on your toenails.”

Author Cheryl Kilodavis said at first she tried to redirect her son, Dyson, from his love of dresses. He was stubborn and she decided not only to give in, but she wrote “My princess boy” in celebration.

“Ever since the age of 2, loved anything pretty pink and sparkly,” Kilodavis said.

“It’s sending the message we are accepting our children for who they are.”

For many, it all boils down to the smiles on the faces and not the tint on the toes.

“Nothing shocks me. Twenty years ago it might have been something,” said John Benemerito of Staten Island.

Lyons and others at J.Crew declined comment on the pink toenail controversy.

What’s your opinion? Please let us know in the comments section below.

  • Josh

    It is a woman enjoying a moment with her son. There is no agenda other than a parent loving their child. Painting a boy’s finger or toe nails pink doesn’t make him gay. You are who you are. My older sister put makeup on me when I was 8. So what?!?!
    There is nothing to discuss here except that social conservatives are a bunch of uptight, repressed people who need serious therapy.

  • Melissa S.

    i have to say that these things are getting so blow out of proportion. I myself have 3 boys who all grown now but when they were 4 and 5 they would like their toenails painted too. I would be painting mine and they would think it was just something fun to do with mom.

    There are just a lot of people out there who need to get a life and face it if someone is going to be gay or transgender it is going to happen whether or not they get their nails painted by their mother as a small child.

  • ndngrl

    I havent watched the ad… but here’s my two cents after reading these comments …1st I agree everyone is entitled to their own opinions … but mainly for those of u who say boys don’t paint their nails, says who? A bigotted society who tries to mold children by standards and “gender rules” that have been shoved down our throats for eons. Stop worrying about these little things… nothing is going to MAKE your child straight, gay or transgender … that’ll happen all on it’s own.

  • FedUp

    How tacky! If he was a 5 year old girl, I’d say exactly the same. Let children have childhood to enjoy; parents must stop treating their children as dolls reflecting parental sexuality!

  • Lee

    Would it be any different if she painted his toes blue or green? I’ve been painting my 4 year olds nails bright pink and rainbow since he was one years old. Why the hell do girls get to have all the fanciful fun? And, I have no doubt that my boy is 100% BOY – fuscia fingernails and all. Would these people consider adorned African tribes “gay” because they paint their bodies? Really. Loosen up and let your CHILDREN live a little.

  • pugphan

    For sure that art director and boss are gay. Laff it up ya divos ha ha! Sad thing is some dumb awholes will dress up their kids in pink, maybe up into prek and foist grade. smokersodysseycom

  • Kristie Inman

    When my son was 2, He came in when I was painting my toenails red. He asked for me to do his too, so I did, and his dad had a cow!. It was a one time thing, that was fun, but I didnt make a habit of doing it and I dont think, as a rule, boys should be painting their toenails hot pink!

  • Rodin

    This is all such BULL.


  • Jeff V

    I’m certain that this mom can probably draw on a great many number of personal bonding moments to celebrate. As a father, I know how precious they are. It is the not so subtle agenda that many find offensive.

  • mark

    My daughter and son paint each others toes they are 4 & 7….then he plays with his trucks and she plays with her dolls… sometimes pink toe polish on a 5yo has nothing to do with the kid having a problem but shows the insecurities of the adults who comment on it. Give it a break…fight something else like child trafficking or child hunger or just shut up.

  • Susan Koshy

    Whatever has happened to the US of A I often wonder now? It is so judgemental of so many moments in life that flow. You pick on one such moment and spiral it into all kinds of directions and make awful biased conclusions about life. It is really sad to see this country from a distance.

    • Rodin

      This ‘US of A’ is a sad sight “from a distance” or up close — jjudgemental, pent up, angry, ignorant, biased, insecure, defensive and TERRIFIED even of itself.

  • Sal

    Is THAT what all the fuss is about? A mother and child enjoying bonding time? I have to agree with the other readers: we have far too many other more important issues to be discussing than a mother and her child having a loving and caring moment together…Where is the reporters when the baby is found in the dumpster or the child left starved in a closet for weeks? Is that a better image. Believe me, a little nailpolish isn’t what makes a little boy Gay….THIS little boy would have had a much easier time of it if he had known…

  • t

    I see what the big deal is

  • Bernard

    Personally… How a mother & her son interacts with one another is just that. Mom & son interacting. Where was the media & CBS news when the former “Director Of Photography” at J.Crew was severely abusing his employees mentally & verbally…?
    See where I’m going? We are a society that thrives on things that really do not have a tremendous impact on our everyday personal lives.
    Does this affect how you breathe, eat or sleep or raise your own kids? Exactly.

  • Kyle

    There’s nothing controversial about this ad. I am disgusted that a news source of this caliber would even waste time and money to endorse the popularity of this “issue”.

  • zen_mom

    so the kids can watch violent video games but we can’t show them a boy with pink toe nails and a mom how joins in the fun? the people who think that world is coming to an end now because of this, have a serious issue – well maybe their world of hatred and intolerance is ending, and all the rest of us will just celebrate our kids and their magic little ideas.

  • john

    i see nothing wrong with the ad: let the parents do their job; as long as they are a happy and healthy family who cares.

  • alan bleviss

    If all it took was the color pink to change gender, I would have to dispose of my pink shirts, but I have found at age 70, it made me no more girlish than I was at 21. Genes not external influence decides “who you are” and how you deal with external influence decides “what you are”. Neither my cousin nor I were influenced by our long curly hair until the age of five as we are both quite masculine. I will state that my hair is still long and curly.
    Kindly allow a mother and her son to enjoy a loving moment together.

    • stephanie

      perfectly said alan. people get so worked up over meaningless things.

  • amy

    okay….who thought it was a good idea to get the opinion of a dr who is affiliated with FOX??? that is the first problem. i let my daughters wear ties and play with trucks, yet nobody seems to have a problem with that. ignorant people really irritate me…..

  • Rodin


  • mama m

    People need to get a grip. How is this any different from giving a child a mini stroller to push around (it’s not going to make them have a baby) or an older sister dressing up her younger brother (it’s not going to make him a girl, or gay or a fashion designer). Children emulate the people around them that they love and spend time with.

  • Scuba Steve

    it’s pretty get riled up about it and protest is ridiculous, but it’s definitely an odd thing to do..if i were to put myself in the mother’s shoes, as a joke i might do something like that..but it’d be temporary and i’d wash it off not long after..letting kids be kids is fine, but there are hovering parents out there that push things onto their children..and to advertise with a tagline ‘Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink’..that just feeds into the idea of this mother pushing femininity

    • Ashley Tuggle

      What’s wrong with pushing a bit of femininity? Dads push masculinity on their daughters sometimes. My sister was a tomboy, wanted to do all the sports because it’s what daddy wanted her to do and it was a chance to spend time with him. I don’t think a mom painting her son’s toenails is any creepier than a father playing T-ball with his daughter. It’s when these ideas of what constitutes ‘proper’ male and female behavior get kicked to the curb that stupid conflicts like the one this advertisement is causing will die out.

  • martin r

    it shows a mother and child having a fun loving moment emphasis love a mother having time for her child what do you prefer the color red of blood of a mother hurting or killing her child grow up people this is 2011

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