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Paint Us Neon Pink

by Camilla Ostrow

Let me just begin by saying: J. Crew.  Ohhhhh, J. Crew.  If you only knew the controversy your innocent little ad would create, then I would gander to guess that well… ya would’ve just used some nail polish remover.  I know, I know, this story has pretty much been beaten to death by feminists and “anti-gender-benders” alike, but come on – I just can’t resist.

Now, for those of you who may have been living under a gender-neutral-yellow-rock, let me tell you what’s up… Basically, J. Crew sent out this ad to its customers that featured a picture of Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s president and creative director, and her 5-year-old son, who has pink nail polish on his toes.  Jenna is quoted as saying, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

You can probably predict the backlash. Tons of news stations jumped on board to point out what the conservative Media Research Center called, “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”  Now, lest I forget to mention the pot-kettle-black situation here, let me just alert you to a word: Propaganda.  Ahhh, so many angry words in my head, so little time.

But contrary to what may seem inevitable, this rant is not meant to express anger; I am honestly sick and tired of being angry at Fox news, and other media sources.  Instead, I’d like to talk about a similar backlash this story has created: the support of J. Crew and support of LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) people in general.  Now, to be honest, I’m not sure how much J. Crew needs to be supported, since their response to the whole situation is to say, “We didn’t mean to push any agendas,” when they should be saying, “Who gives a damn if we support transgendered people?”

I’m more interested in the people who have recently taken a stand against this sort of ignorance. Children should be able to love all the colors of the rainbow without being chastised. But this issue–as ridiculous and inane as it may seem—has offered more mainstream and widespread positive support of people who are transgender than I have ever seen.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart did a segment on J. Crew in which he criticized the idea that a boy wearing pink and transgender people should not be celebrated; and for me, this was just amazing.  I mean, here’s a straight, white guy, who may err on the side of liberalism, but nevertheless does not identify specifically as queer or as feminist, saying not only was the ad loving and fun, but also if they were pushing a gay agenda, it wouldn’t be so bad.

This story also led to massive support from blogs, from links shared on Twitter, to stories shared in classrooms, to our SPARKteam campaign that inspires everyone to paint their toes neon pink and post a picture in support on the Thank You J. Crew Facebook page.

I also never, ever thought I would find such joy in hearing that lackadaisical bro in my English class say, “Hey man, that shit’s stupid.” But today, as the words came out of this pseudo-Ashton Kutcher mouth, I was actually moved to respond in agreement. Now, this isn’t to say that the critics of the J. Crew ad are silenced; of course those people are still out there.  But at the same time, there is something really great to be said about the fact that there is a whole other host of people who see how ridiculous all of this really is–and they’re actually talking about it!  And the talking about the celebration (or lack thereof) of LGBTQ people is what is so exciting to me.

I’m all for celebrating transgender people, and I love challenging our idea of what constitutes a ‘real’ boy.  Really, I think it rocks.  And if you do too, then why not push some agendas? Get out from under that gender-neutral-yellow-rock, grab some neon pink, and post your support pictures here in honor of a colorful childhood.

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