J.Crew Ad Stirs Up Controversy With Pink Nail Polish

An online advertisement for ‘J Crew’ featuring a five-year-old boy with his toenails painted bright pink has sparked controversy in the parenting community.

The ad, which stars Jenna Lyons, the chain’s president and creative director, and her son Beckett, five, shows the doting mom painting her son’s toenails under the headline,

”Saturday with Jenna… See how she and son Beckett go off duty in style.’

Below the picture is a quote from Ms Lyons which reads:

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

The image was sent to customers last week by e-mail has sparked discussions over gender identity in children.

A number of psychiatrists have slammed the ad, claiming that promotion of such an image ‘celebrates transgendered identity’.

But Jenna, has hit back, saying:

”’Lots of kids, say seven and under, might ask their parents for something that would seem to be cross gender.

”I think most parents, especially in the privacy of their own home might think, what’s the big deal?’

I agree!  This ad shows a sweet moment between mom and son. Kids are curious, especially when they see their parents doing something. Does this mean that he will want his nails painted now for the rest of his life – no. It also doesn’t mean that she has set his masculine compass off by allowing him to wear pink nail polish.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!


  • This is very disturbing. I don’t think you understand the psychological implications of painting a five-year old boy’s toenails pink like that. This is more than private playtime with mom. There’s a lot that I could say about this – including years of heavy duty research on child development and the formation of self-identity and sexual identity in the foundational years. But I don’t think you would comprehend the significance. Also, you have overlooked something very important: By allowing her son to be photographed and shipping that photograph out across the globe, the boy’s privacy has been comprised. This photo and the ramifications will be damaging. It’s easy limiting your focus to this otherwise sweet image of a very cute boy and his mother, but this is wrong, plain and simple.

  • I love how the person above has planed out this 5 year olds next 80 years of life. On how he is doomed from the actions of his mom he has now lost his identity! Well I’m 32 & I don’t remember my mom painting my toes, but for the last 12 years of my life I have been painting my toes!, & now since I’m married my wife likes my toes painted more often than not! We’ve been married for 4 years now & we are open unlike you & other people on this subject & still happy & will continue this way! Thank goodness for the internet! (smile)

  • Wow! Everyone has an opinion but when it comes to your own child it’s the parents that have the say what is right or wrong for their own child. If my son wanted to paint his toenails i’d be more than happy to do this. I don’t think playing with toe polish will damage his psyche forever, plain ridiculous!
    Some people need to loosen up and relax. My son plays with dolls is that going to ruin him for life? NO!!! I’ve got 8 yrs of post secodary education in Psychology and Sociology and i’m completely fine if he ever wanted to play around with toe polish…some people need to not take life so seriously.

  • Dee is full of it. She’s the kind who’s causing the “controversy”, because the most far-right conservatives can’t handle anything outside of the rigid gender binary.

    So *what* if he likes wearing pink polish? He might grow up to be a cop or Marine — whether it’s as a boy *or* a girl!

    Time for the cultural conservatives to stop trying to live other people’s lives!

    I’m transsexual, and I would’ve *loved* to have done that with My mom, but she wasn’t an executive and didn’t have time for such things.

  • I think Dee may be correct. As long as there are narrow minded people in the world who have a black and white, boy or girl mentality like she does, then anyone who is a little different has to be worried. Even if the boy grows up to love wearing nail polish, so what. In the grand scheme of things, what difference does it make! I say we should celebrate our differences, not try and force everyone to be the same.

  • Well, I have also spent a lot of my time dedicated to researching and learning about child development, as well as psychology. The fuss over this video is what is sad. I see no harm in the actual photo. And to the person who said they have studied child development and have come to the conclusion that this is going to have some type of significant ramification on the boy, you’re an idiot, and I believe you need to go back and study child development a little more. It’s a picture of a Mom and her son playing. If it was a picture of a Dad and his daughter playing football, there wouldn’t be a controversy. But apparently doing “girl” type things is so offensive. It is because society thinks that being a girl is so degrading. In early childhood education, we actually encourage any type of dramatic play, whether it is a boy doing “girly” things or a girl doing “boyish” things. This has absolutely NO impact on their sexuality. The only thing being compromised here the fact that, once again, women are being put down. Recognize it when you can please, I deal with it daily. And please in the mean time, tell me why it is so degrading to be a girl? I condone J Crew, the designer and her son.

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