Saturday, April 23, 2011

J. Crew Pushes Boundaries with Neon Nail Polish

This J. Crew ad featuring a designer painting her son's toenails raises many relevant questions about the role of the media in challenging gender stereotypes. The caption says "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

From one perspective, this ad can be viewed as progressive. Nail polish is associated with women and being "feminine." Men would be considered "strange" or "outcasts" for wanting to wear nail polish and therefore, be "feminine." Yet, this article has me rethinking the purpose of this ad. Did the advertisers intend to break down gender stereotypes? Are people overreacting to this ad when many little boys experiment with "feminine" behaviors before the outside world tells them it's unacceptable? While I fully support letting children be who they are and of course, I want to break down behaviors that are caged in to feminine and masculine terms, there is something about this ad that makes me uncomfortable. I don't think they have this child's best interests at heart, and when it comes down to it, these designers are trying to sell a product. Is there room for gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes in advertisements? Are there some positive examples? I'll get back to you about that one!

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