J. Crew, I Love You

You may have seen the J. Crew ad featuring Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s Creative Director, and her pink boy. Jenna said in the caption, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Jenna, I love you. You’re brave and ballsy and badass. You’re promoting the idea that boys who like pink nail polish are cool—and their moms are awesome. You’ve launched a new national debate around gender norms, and my readers know how much I love that.

Fox News reported today that the ad sparked controversy over the meaning—and repercussions—of promoting such counter-cultural ideas. Erin Brown, spokesperson for the conservative media watchdog Media Research Center, said, “Jenna’s indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future.” Right. Because bullying is not caused by the systemic degradation of feminine boys promoted by people like Brown or Dr. Phil, but parental acceptance of kids who are different from the norm. That totally makes sense.

I encourage you to comment on the Fox site, to make your voice heard among the Fox News readers, who might have, uh, differing views from yours.

And J. Crew? You are awesome for supporting pink boys and their loving, accepting parents. You are awesomer still for holding up one of the only positive images of pink boys I’ve ever seen in mainstream media. You are awesomest of all for taking on gender inequities, unspoken bias, and, ultimately, bullying of boys who are different—even if you didn’t really know what you were getting into what you posted that ad.

If my readers are so inclined, I encourage you to contact J. Crew at contactus@jcrew.com and tell them what you think of their bold move. I wrote just a moment ago to tell them exactly how awesome I think they are. Because we need to celebrate every joyful victory that comes our way, and commend those who help get us there.


I’m sharing my awesome with Momma Made It Look Easy and you can too.



  1. Eliz. says

    Agreed that it’s awesome and all that, but when I saw the ad I thought, “Why is JCrew not offering this mother and child the opportunity to BUY A PINK SHIRT?” They’re getting the props for being all liberal but they’re not REALLY putting their product on the line. They don’t sell nail polish.

    The message is still that it’s okay to be a little wacky (go ahead, paint your boy’s nails pink) but that businesses are still behind the status quo (olive green stripes are what boys wear).

    • Inga says

      Actually, pink shirts for boys have always been a preppy standby – at least the button down variety! Don’t know, though, if J. Crew is currently offering this. I think a mainstream business embracing pink nail polish is fairly rebellious.

      • shoffman says

        Inga, that’s right–I thought of that when I saw the pale pink gingham boys’ button-down. It’s awesome, but not revolutionary. Revolutionary would be no gender labels on all their clothes, and boys modeling pink shirts!

    • shoffman says

      Yay J. Crew!

      Right, Caroline–if they sold UNISEX khakis and hot pink miniskirts, that would be truly revolutionary.

    • Laura B says

      Not sure if this is simply thought of as preppy, too, but I almost find this “papaya” color more daring, maybe because of the saturation and maybe because pink”ish” peach”y” colors are usually only beach themed from what I’ve noticed in prominent brands


      I could say 500 things… I will leave it at this as it is midnight and I spent 3.5 hours on a Friday night moving furniture from my storage unit into my highrise and I . Am. Sore. As. Fox’s. Overly. Penetrated. ****BEEEEEEP.*** *

  2. Joy says

    Email written! See below:

    “I am a child therapist (and mother) who has done extensive research on gender identity. I want to applaud J. Crew for employing Jenna Lyons, applaud Jenna Lyons for her fabulous mothering skills, and applaud whoever the powers may be for approving the nail polish ad! It’s time for people to wake up and open their minds.

    Suddenly, I feel like spreading the word to shop J. Crew!

    With much respect,


  3. Juliana says

    I am so happy that J Crew has stepped up to represent the REAL american family. I am glad the stereo typical gender norms are being pushed and stretched in today’s media. There is nothing better than a boy in pink! I know my pink boy adores it.

    • shoffman says

      Yes, the REAL American family! I’m so used to saying that pink boys are (though normal) not the norm….but with so many letters pouring in from readers all around the world who are parents of pink boys, I’m starting to think we ARE the norm–just a small part of it. Like people with green eyes. Or left-handed people. Or bi-racial people. Or people who like Neapolitan ice cream.

      • Jenn says

        Wow, I love that contemplation of the norm.

        Not only is my youngest son, a pink boy, but he is also left handed, and bi-racial. Luckily I love him so unconditionally, otherwise he would be such an ‘out cast’ from the NORM norm.

  4. says

    I found you through Raising My Rainbow. As soon as I saw the article, I had to blog about, then I emailed CJ’s mom. While I’m happy the article was written, to promote a conversation that usually isn’t so mainstream, some of the quotes/comments broke my heart. While I do not have children of my own, I believe I would be raising my child with the same fiercely protective and loving nature in which you raise yours. All the best!

  5. Brandy says

    It’s interesting that society freaks when boys enjoy getting their nails painted or playing with Barbies but hardly bat an eye when a girl enjoys wearing boy’s clothing or playing with hot wheels.
    I say let them! I enjoyed playing Barbies with my brother and enjoyed ‘shaving’ alongside my grandpa.

  6. says

    I was just sent a link to your blog from a very good friend (who loves your blog) after posting on my own blog about being upset at the negative reactions to the beautiful J. Crew ad. Here is a link to what I wrote:
    Your blog is lovely in so many ways. I look forward to spending time looking through your archives. In the meantime, I will leave a comment on Fox and send an email to J. Crew. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • shoffman says

      Amy, I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Thanks so much for pointing me to your blog. I will post on facebook and tell all my readers to check it out! Fantastic graphics too. I’m so pleased to have connected. -SH

  7. says

    I love it.

    Thanks for participating in my link up. Could you please link directly to your post so that it will be easier for people to find. Thanks.

  8. says

    I have been all over your blog and I think both you and your son are made of awesome!! I also called my son in to apologize for not getting him the purse he wanted a couple of years ago (I was terrified he’d be picked on & bullied & my own childhood was full of that. I got him a tote, instead.) and told him I’d get it for him if he still wanted it. I still had a lot to learn when I started being a mother. Motherhood is a learn-as-you-go proposition but I was a slow learner. You are inspirational! I’m so glad I saw your post today.

    • shoffman says

      Oh honey, don’t think I’m exempt from the learn-as-you-go-ness of motherhood! I’m right there with you. Acceptance of our kids looks different at different times and in different families and locales–what we can do here in the Bay Area (in terms of letting our son dress as he likes) is not necessarily what my friends in rural Mississippi can do. We are all doing the best we can in the moment, and that best-ness changes over time. You sound like an excellent mama.

      Thank you for what you said….it’s not every day I get called “made of awesome” and I will treasure that. (Sam, of course, is clearly–to me, every day–made of awesome.)

      Welcome, Jeanine.

    • Juliana says

      Jeanine, I am so happy you are open to allowing your son the purse he wanted. It is never an easy decision to allow our children an item that will make them be the target of the potential bullies. My son in particiular loves lots of glitter and pink and especially nail polish. He loves who he is even at 10 years old. You are making your son a stronger more self secure person by allowing him to be whom ever he wants.
      All the best in your journey !

  9. Melissa T. says

    Love it! Finally maybe the larger clothing stores will get it! Sarah, I just wrote to J. Crew and let them know the next time we buy Chris some new dresses HE will be getting them from J. Crew!

    I just had one recommendation for them. Under ” shop kids ” get rid of the boys and girls labels. Not needed!

    Why I think we will go with some pink nails today in their honor. Maybe a ” pink nails day ” is in order to show support!

    • shoffman says

      Awesome. I am with you about how stores label their wares–all kids should be able to shop in whatever part of the store they want, without feeling like they have to cross over into the “wrong” section if that’s where they find what they like. I’m actually all for having sections–the femme, the neutral, the butch (though I’m sure some of my readers can come up with some more child-friendly names)–because the reality is most people have preferences, and it’s easier to find what we want when things are organized well. Just not in ways that alienate some kids!

      There IS a pink nails day coming up–Friday April 22. It’s up on my facebook page if you want more info!

  10. Jody` says

    I remember the year we celebrated my daughter’s 4th or 5th birthday. She had a long pink dress. My neighbor’s son went home & told his mom he wanted a pink dress too. She made him a pink caftan.

  11. says

    These are the kind of people that I love to see in the media. The people who understand that we in the queer community aren’t caused by something someone did to us as children, we’re just born that way. I’m a member of the transgender community and trust me the nail polish didn’t make me trans, it just helped me leave behind the pain of being in the closet.

    Thank you all for your understanding and acceptance of the variances that simply part of being human, you all ROCK!!!!!

    May the goddess bless your journeys,
    and May the Force be with You :)

  12. says

    Wow, I just finished writing a post about this myself (queued up tomorrow on my blog). My son is too young to be picking colors out, but I certainly wouldn’t have a problem if he eventually decided he loved pink (or to be a dancer). Thanks for sharing about your family; you’ve got a new follower!

  13. says

    Woah! Um… love this… and love your blog!

    I am the mommy of an only child who has always been unconventional. In fact, he often says that his favorite colors are pink and purple. :) He’s often asked for us to paint his toenails when he sees my sister or me doing ours. And, in the pictures of him from his third-birthday you can clearly see the lipstain that he mistook for eyeshadow wiped all across his eyebrows (giving him an adorable–although semi-permenate–unibrow).

    He’s now five years old and is just a wonderful spirit and a joy to know. While he does play t-ball (and actually loves it), other than that, he’s never been the “conventional” boy (whatever *that* means!)

    Sure he likes his transformers, but not nearly as much as he loves his “pals” (his stuffed animals). He’d much rather us turn off the lights in his bedroom, turn on the music, and dance with light-up toys, or have a “fiesta” (as he calls it) with his “pals” underneath a blanket-made fort than drive a truck through the dirt or play with toy weapons. What’s wrong with that? Nothing!

    Unfortunately I, as the parent, catch flack from some of my family about how unconventional he is, but I love it. I love that he is just that–himself. I love watching him discover his individuality everyday and encouraging him to just be the best version of himself, whoever that is.

    In fact, if he wants a doll–I will buy him a doll. If he wants a truck–I will buy him a truck. Sadly, I know now that a lot of the grief in my life and in my past I caused upon myself by being who I felt others expected me to be, and by choosing a conventional lifestyle/career/etc. I want my son to know that I mean it with all of my heart when I love HIM.

    So I applaud you and am so happy that I’ve stumbled upon your blog and will be stopping by again soon.

    Jackie @ http://tofindtheline.blogspot.com/

  14. Cathy says

    Wanted to share with you that our school’s 1st grade teacher talked with the kids about the JCrew ad and the flak they’ve received — and then offered pink nail polish to anyone who wanted to put it on as an ally with the boy in the ad. They happily polished their nails (boys and girls) took pictures and wrote letters to JCrew. They put up a fabulous display in the school hall of photos of their nails with a caption saying, “This is what it means to be an ally!”

    Thought you might enjoy hearing about it! (Will send photos if there is somewhere to post them…let me know!)

    Keep up the fabulous work — and yes, ally building and anti-bullying is a project the whole school needs to engage in — ongoingly. We’ve had some great successes in our school.


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