Pundits seeing red over boy's pink toenails

By Rex W. Huppke, Tribune reporter
7:04 p.m. CDT, April 13, 2011

J. Crew ad showing mother applying toenail polish ignites firestorm over gender identity, sexuality

A J. Crew ad that shows a mother painting her little boy's toenails pink has sparked a storm of Internet outrage, with much of the vitriol directed at some pundits who swiftly criticized the online ad and asserted such behavior might make a boy question his sexuality.

Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, wrote a column on the Fox News website discussing the clothing company's ad, which featured president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her son Beckett's toenails.

Ablow suggested that Lyons "put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid" and wrote: "This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."

The conservative Media Research Center called the ad "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children," adding that Lyons was "exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics."

Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, said it is "ridiculous" to suggest that painting a little boy's toes pink or any other color might somehow influence his sexuality or sexual identity.

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"Lots of boys love toenail polish; tons of boys do," Dreger said. "All kids like things that are sparkly and bright. And as far as I can tell, it doesn't lead to anything like the end of civilization."