Boys don't like pink. That's just the way it is. Or is it?

Surely you've heard by now about the latest ridiculous fake controversy started by the usual (and in my humble opinion really dumb) suspects, who are trying to stir up outrage over a page in last week's J. Crew catalog. (pictured above)

In case you haven't, Jenna Lyons (J. Crew's creative director) is featured in a photo story about her typical Saturday. She has a boy, and in one shot she is shown playfully painting his toenails pink. They're both giggling and having a grand time. Are they laughing because it's silly fun? Because he asked her to do it not thinking she would? Because he's happy that his toes are pink?

Whatever the thinking behind the photo, It didn't matter to me. But it mattered to some in the media, who are saying the boy will need therapy and that this is all part of a grand conspiracy to get rid of gender, etc...

I told you it was ridiculous with a side of silly.

I have three boys, and I know that they're incredibly curious about both their parents and they're always imitating us -- pretending to write like mommy, take conference calls like daddy -- and one of the things they are most fascinated by are our toiletry habits.

My sons imitate their dad shaving -- and since he uses an electric razor he lets them shave him sometimes. But the boys are equally fascinated by my routine, and yes, I let them apply my lipstick sometimes. So what? I don't think they want to be make-up artists, at least not yet. They're just playing.

One of my boys is particularly fascinated by lipstick and asks me to reapply throughout the day. One day when he was being really persistent I asked him if he wanted to try it. His eyes popped out of his head and he practically screamed "No!"

"Why not?" I asked him.

"Being a girl is scary!" he said. I couldn't really argue with that, could I?

I think what got the conservative media's panties in a bunch (see how I did that?) was the quote used to illustrate the page,
Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.

Anyone who paints their toenails regularly would agree that painting toenails is more fun in bright colors. But some people are horrified, I think, because she reveals that her little boy likes pink.

Do these people not know history or what?

Historically, the color blue was for women (why do you think the Virgin Mary is always wearing blue?) and pink was for men. Children dressed in gender-neutral clothing because it was more practical.

A very recent article on Smithsonian.com quotes historian Jo B. Paoletti and pokes a little fun at modern-day hysteria over pink and blue,
Why have young children’s clothing styles changed so dramatically? How did we end up with two “teams”—boys in blue and girls in pink?

“It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’ ” Paoletti says.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html#ixzz1JPwDWsTk

It's a great article -- you should read it and look at the pictures. (Thanks Jenna for the link.*)

(By the way, conservative pundits looking for clicks and airtime aren't the only hysterical ones in my opinion -- people who worry about girly-girls not growing up to be feminists need to relax too. Says this girly-girl who grew up to be a feminist and a womanly-woman.)

I've said it before -- childhood is a time for fun. Dressing up or down, pretending to be different things -- it's all part of growing up. I happen to like and maybe even encourage boys' things for my sons (for example, we chose to give our sons "masculine" names) but I don't worry when they're curious about the frilly girly things I like.

In fact, I take it a compliment.

They love and look up to their mom, and want to know what it's like to be mommy. Yes, painting your nails isn't everything there is to being a mommy; but then again, shaving isn't everything there is to being a daddy. But it sure is fun!

What do you think? Do you care/worry if your boys show an interest in "girl" things?