J. Crew Ad: Is It Bad to Paint a Boy's Toenails Pink?

The ad for J. Crew features a mother and child having a good time painting her child's toenails hot pink. That may sound like a plain ho-hum ad, but the ad sparked a huge controversy in the blogosphere - you see, the kid in the ad is a boy:

It began when a photo of J. Crew's president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting the toenails of her son Beckett in an ad was sent to customers last week in a feature, "Saturday with Jenna."

"Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink," says the caption. "Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

Social conservatives reacted with outrage. Fox News' Dr. Keith Ablow ran an opinion piece on the issue and Erin Brown of the right-leaning Media Research Center called the ad "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children."

"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 wrote. J. Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics."

Reaction to the reaction was appalled at the notion that the child was being "turned" gay or transgender.


Now let me ask you this: is painting a boy's toenail (pink, red, whatever color) harmful? Do you think that will "turn" him gay?

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Jon Stewart had this on his show the other day. Seriously people, there is enough news in the world. Why do we have to make up headlines? I am pretty sure that the kid will be just "fine". It is sure better than having her beat him, ignore him, or turn into a tiger mom.
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Maybe these two references might help.

The Abstract from Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

"The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation."

And the Abstract from Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?” M.Diamond Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

"A theory of gender development is presented that incorporates early biological factors that organize predispositions in temperament and attitudes. With activation of these factors a person interacts in society and comes to identify as male or female. The predispositions establish preferences and aversions the growing child compares with those of others. All individuals compare themselves with others deciding who they are like (same) and with whom are they different. These experiences and interpretations can then be said to determine how one comes to identify as male or female, man or woman. In retrospect, one can say the person has a gendered brain since it is the brain that structures the individual’s basic personality; first with inherent tendencies then with interactions coming from experience."

OK, to summarise: hormonal environment dictates the brain's organisation. This leads to detectable sex differences in senses of smell, hearing, emotional response, from birth. It also leads the brain to develop in particular ways later.

Sex Identity crystallises as the result if conscious and unconscious pattern-matching with others' behaviour. Appearance, dress etc seem to play a minor role if any.
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@Ryan S
I've been reading some Kuhn lately, and I believe that you and I are feeling some incommensurability in our paradigms. We are talking over each others heads, and It's more masturbatory than enlightening to either of us. I'm not entirely convinced of your opinion of homosexuality because of this snippet of your post, "homosexuality is not very conducive to production and appears to be primarily based in "I want" and "I need" egotistical striving". No, it isn't. It flat-out is not. You've created a large and complex closed system that gives you plenty of busy-work but doesn't relate to the objective truth. If this were anything but a small blog in the interwebs, I would offer you my best worded and clearest rational response, but as this is just a personal crusade I hereby resign before we get too deep. I'm not going to be able to convince a stranger over the internet and same with you. Thanks for sharing your worldview, it's been a pleasure (no sarcasm).
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"Cognitive dissonance" is a widely misunderstood phenomena often cited by people with only introductory understanding of logic. Cognitive dissonance is like balancing a toothpick on-top on the edge of a glass. It may fall this way, it may fall that way, but in all probability it will fall one way or the other. The toothpick would have to be particularly balanced to rest on the edge of the glass.

Cognitive dissonance is probably a more enlightened state than either of the alternatives. That isn't the problem, the problem is when the toothpick always falls to one-side because it is biased.
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So let me be clear now. I don't care if you are gay. You do what you want. I realize there are inclinations at birth and I also know that we can dampen or feed our inclinations, and I know that through deep contemplative meditation we can rework a lot of our minds. And I realize that is not happening in our society. I realize that by-and-large, if I abstract my thinking out to the extreme God's-eye of the world, it appears that homosexuality is not very conducive to production and appears to be primarily based in "I want" and "I need" egotistical striving, which is at odds with community. So its on it's motivational basis alone that I see problems with it. Nevertheless, you are free to do whatever you want, and if it is a mistake, that is your right too. This is why I don't make much issue out of whether or not it is okay, but I make an issue out of the arguments for its acceptance.

My ideal is that this whole issue gets put away as soon as good arguments start to surface and the flawed, illogial, nonsense is abandoned.
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