Bike tee – J.Crew
Cardi – free from swap
Skinnies – ON Maternity
Loafers – Michael Kors, thrifted
Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports
Helmet – Nutcase
It’s no secret that I’m somewhat bike obsessed. Ok, maybe a little more than somewhat. So you won’t be surprised to see that one of my favorite tees is one with a graphic print of a bike on it. I got this shirt on clearance at J.Crew at the end of last summer, only to open one of my gifts on Christmas morning and find that my mom had gotten the same tee for me at J.Crew as well. I guess she knows me pretty well. Having two of this one very loved t-shirt makes me willing to stetch one out and turn it into a maternity top.
And speaking of J.Crew, have any of you seen this recent article regarding a picture in the J.Crew catalog that’s apparently causing quite a stir? The image in question is one of J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons and her young son engaging in a supposedly questionable activity… painting her son’s toenails pink. According to the news article, social conservatives are calling the piece “transgendered child propaganda.” (The implications here being also that transgendered people should be shamed and not embraced). The claims range from suggestions that the young boy will need psychotherapy to recover later in life to accusations that J.Crew is exploiting the youngster to promote their “liberal, transgendered identity politics“. A bit much, right?
We’ve talked in the past about how fashion is a powerful tool in perfoming gender and identity, be it in terms of race, sexuality, class, or ethnicity. We’ve also talked about how these accoutrements of fashion are used by adults to enforce gender performance in young children. This article is a perfect example of our culture’s obsession with visibly marking children as either male or female, feminine or masculine. The binary that shall not be disturbed.
As my husband, the feminist, pointed out – what if it had been black nailpolish on the little boy? Would that have caused as big of a stir? What is it about pink that is especially prickly when it comes to men adopting it? And what if the image had shown a little girl dressed in a baseball outfit? Would that kind of crossing of traditional gender boundaries have caused such an aggressive response? Even within culturally imposed gender norms, some boundaries are clearly more flexible than others.
To credit my husband with one more astute observation – that little boy is growing up with his mother greatly involved in the fashion industry. He likely observes her work with fashion much of the day. Nailpolish, an accessory, is just an extension of her daily work accoutrements. He most likely just wants to be a part of his mother’s life and involved with the things she’s passionate about. His wanting his nails painted should more likely be viewed as an extension of his love for his mother and his desire to share in her interests and activities. It’s sad that such a sweet demonstration of mother-child enjoyment is being demonized like this. Jon Stewart agrees with me, he also had a few things to say on the topic.
Perhaps you don’t agree and are oppsed to little boys wearing pink nailpolish. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear why that is. I welcome discussion from all perspectives on it and I hope that my making it clear where I stand on this debate doesn’t discourage others who disagree to chime in with their response. What is your take on the J.Crew image and the consequent media response to it? – S.