Is “What’s the Big Deal” an Omen for Change?

14 Apr

By now, many of you have probably heard about the J Crew catalogue backlash against this image:

If you haven’t, the video over here pretty much sums it up.

The page above appeared as a part of a series where creative director Jenna Lyons, shows what “Saturdays” with her family are like. In this particular catilogue, she posted pictures of enjoying painting her sons toenails. The highlighted quote reads:

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

And of course there was backlash. Stupid, pigheaded, this is “transgendered child propaganda,” backlash. Most of this was delivered over on Fox News by a Dr. Keith Ablow.

However, that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is the reaction to this backlash. Normally, I would expect to see violent responses, people using the f-word like it’s candy until I imagine their mouths dripping with foam. But this time, I was refreshed to see lots of responses that simply said, “What’s the big deal? Let the boy paint his nails.”

Even in the aforementioned video, while there was still some negative response it was at least portrayed to be less common than the positive or, at least, neutral response.

For me, this is exciting. We’re seeing attitudes change and people become more accepting or, if nothing else, tolerant of attitudes that aren’t strictly binary when it comes to gender.

Now, I’m not going to hop on the this-child-is-transgendered bus just yet. This child has a whole life ahead of him and I don’t think that painting his nails necessarily means that he’s transgendered or even gay— what it does mean is that hopefully he will have the freedom to find that out on his own without feeling pressured, or judged, for making choices to live his life how he chooses.

Today, the other news story I’m paying attention to is about a seven year old girl who got plastic surgery to pin back her ears. The doctor in this interview says it’s not just cosmetic but the child’s mother admits that this was a preventative measure to avoid bullying.

In my life, I hope to hear more stories about little boys with pink toenails and fewer stories of children going under then knife in fear for their well-being. I don’t care who you are or what you like to do, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else you have the right to grow up being the person you choose to be. That’s America, right?

So next time we see boys wanting to play with dolls or girls wanting to play football, I hope I hear more people respond by saying, “Let them do it, what’s the big deal?”

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3 Responses to “Is “What’s the Big Deal” an Omen for Change?”

  1. Katie April 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    This is exactly the argument I kept wanting someone to make in those comments. I was also heartened by the reaction to the backlash. I’m used to seeing people get outrageously defensive and turn to the other extreme but it was nice to see people calmly relaying points about how they/their brothers/whoever used to get their toenails painted and they ended up “just fine”. All of these people had stories about how the grew up straight and happy and without any transgender issues. I kept wanting someone to add, “and so what if he’s gay?” or “and so what if he has a sex change?”. So happy about all of these people intelligently speaking out and LOVE you for making this final point!

    • redshana April 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

      Thanks love!

    • Vanessa Parks April 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

      Yeah this is super fantastic. I heard that J Crew was taking some flack for this, and I pretended like it wasn’t happening. These things make me sad. There is absolutely no reason we should label a prepubescent child as transgendered. That’s just stupid.

      But the girl who got “preventative” surgery, that’s just awful.

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