Everybody and their dog blog has already covered this story. But as someone in the design/advertising field and one of 2 gay fathers of a little boy, I felt it was in too many of my wheelhouses not to toss in my 2 cents.
I assume you know the basics… J. Crew emailed an ad depicting their President/Creative Director playing with her 5 year-old son, who’s wearing neon pink polish on his toenails. Numerous talking heads have decried or defended this image (and PrezMom’s commentary) as either inappropriate or innocent, respectively. One Ablow blowhard even went so far as to suggest mommy save up for the kiddo’s therapy, as she had obviously scarred him (or at least his toes) for life.
I imagine PrezMom knew the ad would incite some discussion, but maybe not coverage from every network news show, comedy/news hybrids, more than a few politicians, and the entire blogosphere. In any case, I give her props for being secure in her son’s choice of nail polish color, especially when it clashes with his preppy J. Crew duds.
But this whole brouhaha brings up a couple of things for me personally. Namely my own childhood and that of my son’s.
I was once a little boy who liked to dress up. Sometimes in mom’s clothes, but more often as a super hero. In either case, some manner of flowing was required (hair, dress, cape). And yep, I turned out gay. But I know plenty of gay men—my husband among them—who never bent their gender, not even a bit. It’s kind of a non-issue for me, seeing as how I’m proud and happy of who I am, sexually and otherwise.
But now that I’m a dad, I think sometimes about the potential ways JJ could be ridiculed. He’s got 2 dads. He’s adopted. He’s got 2, possibly 3 cowlicks in his shaggy, little head. He’s just about to turn 18 months, so I know his teasing days are still a ways off, but I’m feeling like he’s gonna do okay. Because the boy is fearless. He’s already gotten his fair share of bruises and bumps, which never ceases to put knots in my stomach and a lump in my throat. But it’s a thrill for me, who spent most of his childhood inside drawing or watching Super Friends, to think of JJ being exponentially more adventurous than I was. Not to besmirch my boyhood, but I probably missed out on a lot of things due to my fears and insecurities.
So I revel in seeing JJ’s exuberance and never want to quell that, whether it manifests itself in sports, glee club, or toenail polish. I’m so honored to witness it all, hoping I can always allow his true self to shine, and that I can learn a thing or two from him about being fearless.