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SHOCKING PINK: J.Crew Boy’s Polish Photo

The new J.Crew catalogue has a picture of the company’s creative director, Jenna Lyons, painting her son’s toenails pink.  Beckett is five, and apparently likes the color.   The photo is seen by some as a sweet mother-son moment, and by others as dipping its toe into parental support of transgendered children?!  The media went into a tizzy.

MOMism:  “Boys will be boys.”  MAMAs know our kids come how they come, right?  We can have 3 kids – all with the same parents raised in the same house – with very different personalities and preferences.  They are born their own little people.  Ultimately, the most important thing we can do is to love them, engage them and spend quality time with them.

I used to paint my brother’s nails and dress him up when he was little.   My brother-in-law’s favorite toy was a vacuum cleaner.  My son is sandwiched between two girls, so you can imagine what went on when he was little – the tea parties and Barbie moments.  The point being, kids like to play and they usually play with whomever is around.  But, there comes a point, when they become more independent in their play…they don’t want mommy to paint their nails (or their big sister) and they don’t want to play with a vacuum.  Then, they start hanging out with kids who like to do the same thing they do and their real interests develop.  So, our point is…no biggie!  Nail polish comes off.  It is nothing permanent or predictive of someone’s sexuality in the future.  If anything, my brother grew up to be a big strapping man that appreciates his girlfriend’s outfits, my brother-in-law helps around the house and my son wants to know why Barbie’s boobs don’t look real?!  Boys will be boys.

Not to be cynical MAMAs, but this stunt by J. Crew is all about marketing.  Here’s the thinking.  Marketers push the envelope all the time to get our attention.  They spend lots of time and energy trying to figure out ways to push emotional hot buttons, so they get free publicity.  For example:  It’s shocking that a boy would wear nail polish…and hot pink polish to boot…so, if we print the picture, people might talk about it-a lot.  The media will pick up the story (because it’s not like there is any REAL news to report?) and J.Crew will get a lot of free publicity. Shocked?!

It’s about the attention MAMAs.  The more they push, the more we freak, the more they do it.  Sound familiar?  Just like when our kids demand our attention, if they try to shock us with sticking peas up their nose or throwing toys, we pay attention and re-direct their behavior.  But, if they are older and they are trying to shock us with the way they dress…or their hairdo…or nail polish…they are trying to get our attention.  And, we have to find out why without over-reacting?  What are they trying to say?  Be prepared to listen.  But, whatever you do, don’t freak or they’ll keep pushing.  The same is true with advertisers…if consumers don’t react the way they want, they’ll try another tactic.

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