This past week J. Crew released an ad picturing a mom painting her son’s toenails a bright pink. The caption with the picture read “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.” Is it way more fun though? Many people are asking what the big deal is. So a mom decides to paint her son’s toenails. If the little guy wants pink toenails what’s the harm? What sister out there hasn’t convinced her little brother to hold still long enough to practice on his nails or hair? It’s all innocent fun and advertising.
Or is it? A picture paints a thousand words and what can be easily written off as a person’s creative choice often heralds a much deeper sentiment and meaning. The controversy surrounding this ad simply brought to the forefront the ongoing confusion in our culture regarding gender and gender roles. Is it a sin to paint a boy’s toenails pink? In and of its self I don’t think so.
But when we look at the whole picture there is a lot wrong with it. Our culture is bent on making everything gender neutral, from the clothes we wear to the jobs we hold and the people we marry. The world screams – “defy all odds – be anything you want to be – be the unique you!” Well that’s great until we have a whole generation of people trying to be different and unique – in the end they are all the same.
We all want equality and uniqueness. Isn’t that how the Lord created us? Uniquely and at the same time equal in value as male and female? Sin has distorted and abused that uniqueness, but it is still beautiful. We are trying to fight and at the same time recreate the very thing we already are! Why are we trying so hard to blur those lines?
The harder we try to be gender neutral the more confused we will be come. In fact “confused” is now a label to describe someone’s sexual identity. It’s not just conservative Christians that are concerned about where this cultural trend will lead us. Psychiatrist and Fox News Contributor Dr. Keith Ablow weighs in on this ad:
“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.
In our technology-driven world—fueled by Facebook, split-second Prozac prescriptions and lots of other assaults on genuine emotion and genuine relationships and actual consequences for behavior—almost nothing is now honored as real and true.
“Increasingly, this includes the truth that it is unwise to dress little girls like miniature adults (in halter tops and shorts emblazoned with PINK across the bottoms) and that it is unwise to encourage little boys to playact like little girls.” I highly recommend you read the rest of his article.
We are created uniquely male and female for a reason and purpose. It is something that should be celebrated not discouraged. Sure, sometimes I don’t love being female. I resist the good, God-given tendencies that come with being a woman. On the flip side, as part of the curse “my desire will be for my husband.” As a woman with a fallen nature, I will always desire to control my husband/men around me. Not an attractive thought. Men and women have aspects of their gender that they don’t like – but it is never an excuse to neutralize and homogenize ourselves to the point that humanity is one confused grey vacuum of monotonous clones.
If we embrace the uniqueness of our genders and the equal-but-different roles that go a long with them – I think we will find that the very thing that is perceived to hold us down in our culture (our genders) is the very thing that will set us free to be unique. Picture a kite. Without the string that grounds it, the kite would never fly. Sure, without the string it might catch the wind and soar a few feet – only to dive bomb back to earth in a matter of seconds. Embracing the uniqueness of our genders is like the string. It allows us the freedom to fly.
Be you. Be the real you and wear pink nails or guys jeans if you want. Just don’t get sucked into being so ‘different and unique’ that you are lost in that grey monotony of being gender neutral. Try first to embrace and express yourself in a way that is unique by focusing on something that already makes you different from roughly 50% of the population – your gender.
Our culture is dive-bombing. Grab a few kites and remind them strings are ok. The next time you see a boy playing Cowboys and Indians or a girl playing dress up – encourage them in it.