#790 Boys with painted nails

Painted nails

Photo by Calitar, who had his wife paint his nails; via Flickr Creative Commons

The guy (not the one in the photo) is a barista, and he paints his nails. So one day a mom comes in, sees his bright green nails and says, “Wow, you’re so brave!” It gives her the courage to allow her son to paint his nails. Next week she comes back in with her son, to show the barista the boy’s sparkling blue nails.

My friend Cathy Richards found the story on The Other 98%’s Facebook page. They found it on the FckH8 Facebook page, which posted it on August 27th. The brief story made me wonder if there was much online about boys and men painting their nails.

The ABC show, What Would You Do?, had actors play the parts of a mother and her son, a critical customer and an unhappy dad. The “son” wanted pink polish. He and his mother sat side by side for their manicures. The “customer” and the “dad” disapproved. Real customers were filmed reacting to the scenario. The responses were mixed, but enough of them were positive to reassure me that things are changing for the better. Watch to the end because the last woman, mother of three boys, speaks with such loving acceptance you will want to hug her.

I’m obviously slow to catch on because I also found:

  • Those who weighed in two years ago on the experience project’s question about whether or not guys should wear nail polish were overwhelmingly in favour of it.
  • Scott Gent devotes his blog, One Gent’s Ten, to encouraging men to wear nail polish. Men with Painted Nails takes a similar approach, as does Men and nail polish.
  • The New York Times published a piece in June 2013 with the headline, Manly Manicures End in Color.
  • Reddit has a whole stream on Malepolish.
  • Even Fox News watchers did not get overly bent out of shape in 2011 when J. Crew sent out advertising that included a picture of president and creative director Jenna Lyons holding her son’s pink-painted toes. Predictably, that did not stop the network’s contributing psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, from weighing in with dark predictions about the boy’s future need for psychotherapy.

A quick Google search is not enough to declare an end to bullying over gender-stretching issues. Still, if the Internet had been around while I was growing up, I can declare with 100% certainty that a similar search would have yielded near-universal condemnation.

A little dab of colour is a small thing, but it can have big significance. So I find reason for hope in the support for boys and men who want to wear nail polish.

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10 comments for “#790 Boys with painted nails

  1. September 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I love this entry.

    When my nephew was 2 or 3 he was obsessed with lip gloss. Some family members thought such a thing was too “feminine” for a little boy, but it gave me hope to see so many people that I love not have a problem with it.

    Things were more strict when I was a kid.

    • September 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      And when I was growing up, no family would have allowed a boy to step outside of strict gender lines. How wonderful that your nephew’s fascination with lip gloss was accepted by most of his family.

  2. October 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Having colorful nails is fun! (just ask a girl…). Sure, guys can paint their nails too. Last time I checked, nail polish was not listed on the “magic gender-changing” list, so I guess it’s fairly safe.

    • October 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Wonderful spirit, Jake! Let’s hear it for a colourFULL world.

  3. Vicktoria
    November 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    How awesome! Anyone should be allowed to wear what they want. Right now my little guy is sporting silver nails and his dad’s are dark gray! I see nothing wrong with any color on a guy! I am appalled at anyone who’s not accepting of anyone’s personal taste in fashion or individuality!

    • November 10, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Hooray for you and your family, Vicktoria! You have a wonderful spirit.

  4. November 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Loved the report, and I am a male who goes polished all the time in any color I damn please!

    • November 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      I’m loving hearing from guys who paint their nails. I still don’t see it much in my hometown, but maybe the guys here will be inspired by your example.

  5. December 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    It’s becoming much more popular as time goes on, Cathryn. I color too. Because there are zillions of great colors and I see no reason not to add a bit of color to an otherwise drab canvas. Girls are getting tattoos like it was going out of style, because humans are just naturally drawn to color. Note I didn’t say only girls, but all humans. And more men polish their toes than you’d think. Many never show because they’re so afraid of what others think. Besides, why in the world would anybody really care what’s on my toes? Seriously? There are plenty of really serious thing to be concerned about in this world today, and I doubt that color on a fellow’toes or hand ranks anywhere near the top. :)

    • December 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      I think I was born too soon, Mark, and I really like your comment. Although it seems a small thing, guys with painted nails and girls with tattoos were major (and silly) taboos when I was growing up. I see the acceptance of both as a sign that attitudes are gradually softening, allowing for the uniqueness of human expression. And that gives me hope.

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