A photo of a J. Crew exec's son sets off a scathing debate over gender roles for kids.
Hot pink-toenailed boy in J. Crew ad sparks controversy
When J. Crew sent out its latest catalog, we doubt that the classic clothing company expected it would be blasted by social conservatives as "transgendered child propaganda." But alas, it has.The images in question fall under pages titled "Saturday with Jenna" -- featuring products personally favored by J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons and her family. This particular Saturday for Jenna includes painting her five-year-old son Beckett's toenails pink. The caption reads, "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."
Cue the outrage from America's culture warriors.
"Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who'll be affected by your 'innocent' pleasure," Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a Fox News op-ed. "If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?"
Erin Brown of the Media Research Center took the criticism a step further -- after being sure to remind readers that J. Crew is a fashion favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama -- accusing the company of exploiting young Beckett to advance the cause of "liberal, transgendered identity politics."
The ABC News report on the kerfuffle, below, includes a reaction from Sarah Manley, who set off a similar firestorm last Halloween after posting photos of her young son dressed up as his unconventional idol: Daphne from "Scooby Doo." Manley said today of the J.Crew ad, "If the roles had been reversed and the photo...had been of a little girl playing in the mud with trucks, nobody would have batted an eye."
The Lookout contacted J. Crew to get a response from Lyons, but company spokeswoman Margot Fooshee told us that neither Lyons nor J. Crew would be commenting on the matter. However, others aren't being shy about offering up voracious defenses of the company's creative decision, pushing back on Ablow and Brown as holders of the unpopular opinion.
In another of the many critiques of Dr. Keith's critique, Jeanne Sager, on the parenting blog The Stir, asks: "So go back and look at that picture in the J.Crew ad, will you? What do you see? Do you see pink nail polish on a boy? Or do you see a little boy named Beckett, with beautiful blond curls, and a mom who looks like she is impossibly in love with her kid, in the very best way? Because that's what I see."