April 12, 2011

J Crew Ad Promotes Something That Some Call "Transgenderism"

j crew ad crop.jpg
I love how natural she looks


j crew ad.jpg

The kid is Beckett, the son of the woman in the photo.  Look, he's wearing pink.

Media commentator Erin Brown of the Media Research Center also had strong views, calling it 'blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.

'J Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.'

Before you jump in with your own ideas, ask yourself a question with a very obvious answer: do you think that photo is real?

People are arguing over it like it's hidden camera footage of this woman's house.  Do you think this scene wasn't staged?  How many takes did it require?

Look at the ad carefully.  What is it selling?

You probably think it's the shirt, but there are two products there: the shirt and the nail polish.

Look carefully at that nail polish, neon pink.  It doesn't exist, not in that exact color, anyway.  The color's name is "Short Shorts," and thanks to the magic of Photoshop it doesn't have to look like this:


essie short shorts.JPGLook at those crayons.  Those are artificially enhanced colors.

This isn't to say it isn't trying to promote transgenderism, or it is; but as an ad it's telling you something about you vs. the products so we may as well listen.

II.

It's Saturday, you don't have to dress up for work.  Yay!   Hold on, that doesn't mean you're allowed not to dress up.  No sweatpants for you.

The woman in the ad is attractive but not in a vulgar, sexual way.   Supremely comfortable with herself, her life.  It seems effortless.  And she's the president of J Crew.   And she has her son with her.  She's the product.  The image.  You don't like the polish, fine, J Crew has other stuff to make you into her.  In other words, she is you, the aspirational you.  The kind of you that can say this:



j crew ad p3top.JPG
She doesn't put her kids in front of the TV so she can get a minute to poop.  She doesn't have to.

She's the product, all those things around her are accessories.  The polish is an accessory, and its color has been enhanced to better broadcast the message.  The kid is an accessory, and he's been enhanced to broadcast the message.  Clean, vibrant, simple, alive, happy, fun.

What's going on in the ad?  Now it's 11:30 (Beckett sleeps in on the weekends, of course) and the art project is done and the coffee (french press) is so good it doesn't need milk or sugar.   Giggle.  Lighthearted fun ensues, and the boy gets his toenails painted.  Now, obviously, he's a boy and he's not the kind of boy to get his nails painted pink, it was all in spontaneous fun.  But it's not like anyone's watching, it's in a safe environment, where you can do whatever you want and no one makes assumptions.  Dad's not there.  She can just throw her hair in a bun and be the kind of beautiful women like.  "I love Anne Hathaway."  Me,  too. 

How much you wanna bet her nails aren't painted neon? 


j crew ad page 3.JPG
Of course not, that's not her style.  She's not the kind of successful and stylish mom who would wear neon pink, either, but sometimes it's fun to play.  HA!   That is fun.  So why even buy the neon and the orange behind it if you're not going to wear it out?  Oh, because it's fun, frivolous, like the crayons.  The nail polish is crayons.  And because, precisely, if you wear it, it doesn't mean anything.

III.

"But surely J Crew must have known this photo would be controversial?"  Ummm, duh.

And controversy is publicity and blah blah, marketing 101.  But the controversy serves to establish who you are not.  First, if you're offended, you're probably not a woman.  Do you see any men in the ad?  It depicts a safe, comforting place for women.  He's not home.

Or you're not an attractive woman.  Erin Brown of the Media Research Center might be a supermodel but she sounds ugly, doesn't she?  Or old.  Yuck.  Nothing clean, simple, or vibrant about that. Her Saturday's probably involved planned defecations.  That's not you, the J Crew consumer.

"But don't you always say "if you're watching it, it's for you." Why is Erin Brown watching it?  Because the ad gives her a way of defining herself.  Everybody wins.

"But now there's a possibility the kid may become gay, or transgendered."  The word you focused on is transgendered, the word J Crew wants you to focus on is possibilities.  The kid with the painted nails is young, doing something out of the norm.  He embodies possibilities, so J Crew embodies possibilities.

If there is anything "bad" about this ad, it isn't the transgenderism, but the Desire.  You are different from her, but you desire to be her.

The problem is that your desire doesn't know the difference between real you and the aspirational you, and it relentlessly pursues the Symbolic.  Desire is never satisfied, it is never fulfilled.

That's what J Crew is banking on.












Comments

Thank you Alone. I've been ... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 12:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Thank you Alone. I've been reading you for about a year now, and I'm finally getting to a point where I don't give a flying fuck about any of this stuff any more. Having read through so many different filters of information I've become so sick of it that it has become completely meaningless. The news, the analysis of the news, the complaints, all of it. I've realized how stupid and pointless this game is that I've lost interest in it as a serious thing. The world may burn, people may die, but until that comes to my doorstep, I'm just here to watch the show. Once again thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.

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'Lucky' for me, I ended up ... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 1:21 PM | Posted by BigZ: | Reply

'Lucky' for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink... but we keep it safely hidden away, beneath shoes and socks. Blue stripey shirts are much more appropriate!

Playtime at home can be fun and carefree, but appearances matter when we leave the house. Thanks J Crew!

Don't forget your baseball glove, Beckett!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 17 (21 votes cast)
Why is Erin Brown ... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 1:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Why is Erin Brown watching it? Because the ad gives her a way of defining herself.
This is the problem with forays down navel gazing viaduct-without context, the "analysis" is meaningless.

1. The article was a "farm" effort from The Media Research Center, a far-right organization.
2. The original article, written by Erin Brown, first appeared on CMI.

Why is Erin Brown watching it?

Here's CMI's mission statement:
The mission of the Culture and Media Institute is to preserve and help restore America’s culture, character, traditional values, and morals against the assault of the liberal media elite, and to promote fair portrayal of social conservatives and religious believers in the media.

Asked and answered.

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If news is pornography, the... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 2:06 PM | Posted by adf: | Reply

If news is pornography, then all I see here is Erin Brown engaging in her fetish and giving herself multiple O's. Sounds like a day well spent to me!

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Beckettlmao... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 2:40 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Beckett
lmao

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The advertising copy says h... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 2:42 PM | Posted by SusanC: | Reply

The advertising copy says his favorite colour is pink, but the shirt and pants he is wearing (and selling) are blue. Both colours having strong gender connotations in our culture.

The whole set-up makes less and less sense the more you look at it. (Sure, it's advertising, of course it makes no sense...)

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Maybe it's just me, but WTF... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 3:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Maybe it's just me, but WTF does pink nail polish have to do with the kid being gay or transgender or whatever? If I put on pink nail polish once as a kid, will that make me gay? Really?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 30 (32 votes cast)
Transgendered? Whiskey Tang... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 5:38 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Transgendered? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Who killed Oedipus?

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Do you think she likes how ... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 7:39 PM | Posted by BHE: | Reply

Do you think she likes how she looks in that picture? It's hard for me to believe that she would. I doubt her profile is her most striking angle, her nose looks like a ski slope.

So why is it on the website? Wanna bet it was the only shot where she actually looked like she gave a shit about her kid?

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I think the nail polish is ... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 8:42 PM | Posted by mercurialmatters: | Reply

I think the nail polish is primarily there to get the reader's attention so that they can sell a shirt. I agree with TLP in that the ad is initially trying to sell an ideal image of a mother and son relationship in order to sell the shirt.The ad is also trying to appeal to the the reader's desire for wealth since the woman looks like she has plenty of time on her hands.

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What's going on in the a... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2011 9:37 PM | Posted by The Devastator: | Reply

What's going on in the ad? Now it's 11:30 (Beckett sleeps in on the weekends, of course) and the art project is done and the coffee (french press) is so good it doesn't need milk or sugar. Giggle. Lighthearted fun ensues, and the boy gets his toenails painted. Now, obviously, he's a boy and he's not the kind of boy to get his nails painted pink, it was all in spontaneous fun. But it's not like anyone's watching, it's in a safe environment, where you can do whatever you want and no one makes assumptions. Dad's not there. She can just throw her hair in a bun and be the kind of beautiful women like. "I love Anne Hathaway." Me, too.

...

If there is anything "bad" about this ad, it isn't the transgenderism, but the Desire. You are different from her, but you desire to be her.

The top paragraph sounds pretty cool. Why is it bad to desire that? Honest question.*

*Okay, yes, I'm a guy and the ad absolutely makes my skin crawl. But that is presumably because there is something wrong with me. Objectively, there is nothing wrong with that little story. Why is it bad that women want that?

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I wouldn't say it's by defi... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 12:28 AM | Posted, in reply to The Devastator's comment, by wilyliam: | Reply

I wouldn't say it's by definition bad to want all that, instead it perhaps makes one a sucker to believe you want the shirt, or care about the nail polish, whilst missing that larger fantasy message.

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Even if it is fake, it is r... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:48 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Even if it is fake, it is representing something real:
Boys are sometimes born with brains not fully masculinized. The result is that some boys want to behave in ways that are culturally feminine. Whether or not this particularly event is faked does not change the fact it represents a very real event, a very controversial issue. The fact is we are born masculine or feminine or in between, we are born gay or straight or bi. Some people , most people, don't understand that, and view the existence of such individuals who fail to conform to gender and sexual norms as "controversial". They may even go as far as to say they are immoral, doomed to hell, an abomination that needs to be destroyed, etc.

Whether or not this particular boy is or is not one of those kinds of boys isn't the point.

The point is the way everyone feels about this boy who represents those boys.

I tend to think this Jenna person, who is president of jcrew, happens to realize that her son is gay. I think she KNOWS he is gay, the way all of us know when a little boy will grow up to be gay, but don't mention it because it is considered impolite to do so and so we pretend the boy is "normal" until he tells us he is gay when he is 15 or so. But jenna works in fashion, she knows many gays, she is very comfortable with gays, and she knows her son is one.
"Lucky for me, I have a son whos favorite color is pink" is code for "I am proud to have a gay son".
This advertsiement is intentionally political. Jenna is using her power at jcrew to make the world safer for people like her son.

As a person who is not gay, and who has no family members who are gay, you can't possibly appreciate what this means to jenna or how she feels about it. She knows her son is born this way, she also knows how the world out there will treat him. This is a mother's attempt to protect her son, to make a better world for him.
Jenna uses her power at jcrew to make an advertisement where she paints her boy's nails pink. She wants all the moms reading this advertisement, who may also have gay (or straight for that matter) sons to teach them that it is OKAY for a boy to be feminine, if he happens to be feminine.

To someone who is totally gender and sexually conforming, who is under the impression everyone close to them also is, you couldn't possibly relate to what jenna is feeling.

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Actually, neon pink nail po... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:53 AM | Posted, in reply to BigZ's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Actually, neon pink nail polish is usually worn on the toes. This is typically how females wear it. If you are not a girl, you would not know that. Sure, girls sometimes wear neon nailpolish on their fingers, but it is much more often worn on the toes.

Learn about being a girl before you judge jenna and how she promotes her child's gender and sexual identity from the world.

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I am obsessed with nailpoli... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:03 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I am obsessed with nailpolish and easily own over 200+.

I am not particularly familiar with this essie color, however the bright neon hue radiating from the bottle is not out of the realm of possibility.
Google "shocking pink" by china glaze for an example.

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My favorite colors are anyt... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:08 AM | Posted, in reply to SusanC's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

My favorite colors are anything bright - turquoise, purple, pink, orange.

HOwever today I am wearing navy skinny jeans, a muddy purple vneck grungy shirt, and a dark grey sweater. My makeup is bronze and neutral.

You don't have to wear pink every day even if it is your favorite color.

I also think it is only appropriate and healthy for the mother to at least expose beckett to gender normative behavior, even if she knows and accepts that he is not entirely gender normative. It's not like he is crying and pouting and begging for a pink shirt, he's perfectly happy in the blue striped shirt more than likely. Gay men don't dress in drag every day, do they? Even girly girls don't dress up every day.

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Actually the advertisement ... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:10 AM | Posted, in reply to mercurialmatters's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Actually the advertisement specifically states the mom is very busy and works a lot ("see how she and beckett go off duty in style" is the sort of thing you would write about a ceo who is working 70 hours a week).

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TLP's point wasn't that it ... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:18 AM | Posted, in reply to The Devastator's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

TLP's point wasn't that it is wrong to aspire to have that kind of life... it's wrong to buy a pair of $450 sunglasses so that you can pretend you have that kind of life. The argument TLP is making is that these advertisements encourage people to imagine they are living this lifestyle, so that they buy the clothes to complete the fantasy.

You will still be a secretary in a dead end job in a not so fabulous house, and you are not open minded enough to accept your gay sun because you are poor and religious and think gays are immoral. Only now you will have $450 sunglasses as well as all that previous crap.

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What makes you think Jenna'... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:36 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Rookie: | Reply

What makes you think Jenna's agenda here is anything other than selling clothes and accessories? She doesn't know her son is gay, she can't! He's a completely different person and a work in progress. If she was advancing an agenda for tolerance she'd be working for a gay rights advocacy group or something, or perhaps just living her life everday supporting her son's ability to learn and make his own conclusions about his sexuality. She's selling clothes and she (or the advertisers) has used the kind of lifestyle and identity she has as an aspirational goal, paired it with a product that symbolises that goal and said "all you need to reach the aspirational identity is this symbol."

That's the problem. It says you don't need to work hard. You don't need good parenting skills, patience, tolerance, to clean up messes or ever be phased by your child's behaviour. All you need is this product or brand, because that's the kind of thing "those kind of people like me" buy.

Given that argument, why try hard to form a good relationship with your kid, or to be a good parent? Just buy things. And if you don't have that idyllic life, this kind of ad says that's not normal.

In reality life is a mix of positive and negative, and with openness, human emotion and hard work people can achieve great and realistic things that are more rewarding than effortless fantasy like this ad. Nothing is ever that easy and trying to use voodoo symbolism to get there will stop people getting anywhere at all.

That is what alone is saying.

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I suspect jenna has a stron... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 3:18 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I suspect jenna has a strong suspicion her son is going to be gay or at least gender atypical, and that is the motivation for the advertisement.

As to your argument that she "can't" know he's gay. Oh please. EVERYONE knows their child is going to be gay. Sure there are some cases where it is a complete shock to the parents, but most of the time coming out is redundant with what everyone already knows. I think back to school - there were those little boys who were feminine, liked girls things, hung out with the girls and couldnt relate to the boys as well. Those little boys grew up to be gay men.

Parents usually suspect their children are gay, because it is obvious. Jenna works in fashion and is probably very comfortable with gay people, so there isn't that "omg I hope i'm wrong and i hope my son actually turns out straight" thing going on for her. Instead, she uses her company to say "my son's favorite color is pink and I am lucky to have him".

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So parents never suspect th... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 3:37 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Rookie: | Reply

So parents never suspect their children are gay and they turn out to be a little nerdy, sexually shy or just a bit of a feminine guy? Mothers have a 100% perfect idea how their kids will be when they are mature adults, they're just that good at predicting the future?

It's easy to delude yourself in hindsight and say "I always knew he was gay," but if you did it in reverse, suspected he was gay at this kids age and acted accordingly, you'd remove his chance to decide and discover who he is, and he'd be gay just to please you. That's every bit as sad as gay adults having to pretend they're straight because of other people's bullshit.

Parents shouldn't decide who their kids are, they should encourage them to be decent and worthwhile, and let all the irrellevant details like sexuality to their kid. They'll figure it out, just connect to them when they do.

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No one, ever, pretends to b... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 5:56 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

No one, ever, pretends to be gay.
Not the way people pretend to be straight, anyway.

A lot of children and immature adults pretend to be bisexual for attention, for a few weeks/months until they get bored.

Some guys may pretend to be gay to try to seduce women, because women trust gay men and may even view them as a sexual challenge.

No one pretends to be gay to please people. There is zero pressure to be gay. None.

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A female friend of mine has... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 7:55 AM | Posted by jb: | Reply

A female friend of mine has a 9yo son whose favorite color is pink, he loves kittens, hates violence, and is almost stereotypically "future gay".

I feel bad for her (and more for him) from time to time, because I know that culturally, especially in the south, we are not fully accepting of gays. Honestly, this piece made me feel better, that maybe I don't have to worry so much, that things will be ok for him over the next 10 years.

However, I have no desire to buy anything from J Crew, so from that perspective, it wasn't a success.

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I have not actually seen th... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 9:30 AM | Posted by Caroline: | Reply

I have not actually seen this ad, so I'll have to go on what I see here. So this women let's her son paint his nails pink. Maybe she wants to let the world know that her son can be whatever he wants. I have a son who loved pink and wanted his nails painted (and still does, but not in public because there aren't enough Jennas in the world to make it acceptable). Do I think he is gay? He could be. Do I think my other two boys who do not enjoy these things could be gay? They could be. Maybe Jenna just wanted to be portrayed as a modern, educated mother. Period.

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I have a four-year-old son ... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 9:36 AM | Posted by Seth Gordon: | Reply

I have a four-year-old son who occasionally wants to wear nail polish. Once he said he wanted to do it because his teacher wore pink nail polish. I have no idea if he is going to be gay when he grows up, but he is pretty stereotypically-boyish in every other respect. The nail polish thing is very salient TO US GROWNUPS, but a four-year-old does not view gender in the same way.

(I also have a six-year-old who has used a gift certificate to buy a My Little Pony book, and an eight-year-old who used to love listening to our Village People CD. If I paid any heed to these “Media Research Center” doofuses I would be wringing my hands, wondering if I would ever have grandchildren.)

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Gay originally meant happy,... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 9:44 AM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

Gay originally meant happy, lively.

As a guy, I find the J Crew ad creepy and maddening. I don't buy J Crew products, and that's evidently fine with J Crew since they haven't complained.

I wonder if "Dad" agreed to naming "His" son Beckett. Beckett is so "12th centuryish". But Single Mom and Son are off-duty, so that's cool.

Mom is obviously driven, successful, and likes a challenge. But, I don't think Happy - as in the real meaning of happy - lives in her home or at J Crew.

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How can a prepubescent chil... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 11:43 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

How can a prepubescent child be gay or transgendered? He is so far from understanding adult concepts of gender at his age... Any 'gay' he has is projected onto him by his mother. How 'gay' he is or isn't isn't about him, it's about his mother's desire to be seen as being 'cool' enough to raise a 'gay' child.

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Oh for pity's sake.<p... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 11:52 AM | Posted by Hosea Anonymous: | Reply

Oh for pity's sake.

Who ever said that the only boys who like pink are gay? My son's favorite color is pink. He is also as aggressively straight as any guy I know.

I'm with Seth Gordon, above: "The nail polish thing is very salient TO US GROWNUPS, but a four-year-old does not view gender in the same way." Doesn't anybody else remember being a kid? Grownups do all kinds of weird shit, and sometimes it is fun to try out this or that thing they do just for the hell of it, with no idea of the deep portentous meanings that these same grownups invest all your actions with.

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"The advertising copy says ... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:00 PM | Posted, in reply to SusanC's comment, by wisegirl: | Reply

"The advertising copy says his favorite colour is pink, but the shirt and pants he is wearing (and selling) are blue. Both colours having strong gender connotations in our culture.

The whole set-up makes less and less sense the more you look at it. (Sure, it's advertising, of course it makes no sense...)"

You've touched on something here but I think the ad does make sense. The ad seems to be implying that Beckett is all boy; yet, he hasn't yet been socialized to know that painting his nails is a female thing = a bad thing.

He's safe, for now, in his home with his mother, free to play in whichever way he sees fit. That's what is so appealing about it. He's away from the judgements of society and the strict gender roles we impose on boys. Painting your nails is not something you come out of the womb knowing is inherently female behavior. I think most little children would enjoy having their nails painted by their mother.

So I think what the ad is conveying is Beckett is all boy, but he is safe, free, and innocent. Mothers will admire this and want to buy the clothes.

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Actually, very young childr... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by philtrum: | Reply

Actually, very young children can be transgendered; every so often there's a news story about a trans child in school. It makes sense, since children in general develop a firm gender identity in the preschool years.

But regardless, I agree that it's not about whether this specific kid is/will be gay or trans. It's about whether the kid, and other kids, will grow up thinking it's okay to be gay or trans. That acceptance is far more damaging to their social agenda.

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Exactly my point.B... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:49 PM | Posted, in reply to jb's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Exactly my point.

Beckett is probably this kind of boy, a gentle feminine boy who is...obviously gay. Jenna works in fashion, and is open minded enough to realize her son is going to be gay and/or transgendered. The advertisement is a political statement to all mothers with children: My son is gay/transgender. It's okay. I am lucky he is this way. If you have a gay child, you should feel just as lucky.

"I feel bad for her (and more for him) from time to time, because I know that culturally, especially in the south, we are not fully accepting of gays. Honestly, this piece made me feel better, that maybe I don't have to worry so much, that things will be ok for him over the next 10 years. "

The piece was a success, as this was its primary goal (secondary goal: get mom to buy $450 glasses).

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So I think what the ad i... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:58 PM | Posted, in reply to wisegirl's comment, by philtrum: | Reply

So I think what the ad is conveying is Beckett is all boy, but he is safe, free, and innocent. Mothers will admire this and want to buy the clothes.

I completely agree. I think the ad plays on anxieties about the demands the masculine gender role places on boys, and the separation from and rejection of the mother that this is traditionally supposed to entail (sneers about "mama's boys" and the like).

But the mother in the photo gets to engage in this gentle, intimate play with her son, just as she would have when he was a little baby, and they're both happy and relaxed, and it's effortless; she doesn't even worry about what the other kids or parents will think, she's above all that.

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Is your boy who likes nailp... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 1:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Caroline's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Is your boy who likes nailpolish the youngest brother?

There is some evidence that male homosexuality is more common in boys who are born to families with several older brothers... apparently some mothers have an immune system reaction to male fetus and it affects testosterone dynamics in utero. The result is that each son is exposed to progressively higher levels of testosterone, so much that the last sons end up either feminine or homosexual.

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I also want to say there is... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 2:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I also want to say there is a big difference between an otherwise gender conforming, heterosexual child deciding to do something out of the norm once or twice, vs a strong and innate proclivity for opposite sex behaviors.

If your son does something feminine once or twice, this is a much different thing than having a son who is clearly feminine/gay as described by JB above. Some boys love girlie things, it is extremely uncommon for those boys to grow up to be heterosexual males.

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I have a kid who likes femi... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 4:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by lemmycaution: | Reply

I have a kid who likes feminine stuff. He is 5 and is obsessed with hairdressing and lady gaga. Whatever. I am pretty sure that there isn't much a parent can do to to affect a kids eventual sexual preference.

I also think that there is a lot of code switching going on. He acts differently at school than he does at home.

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Everyone speculating about ... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 7:25 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Everyone speculating about this five year old child's eventual sexual preference is a fucking idiot for just, like, so many reasons.

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Whoops sorry, its me. I sai... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 7:26 PM | Posted by crumbskull: | Reply

Whoops sorry, its me. I said you were an idiot.

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"TLP's point wasn't that it... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2011 9:42 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"TLP's point wasn't that it is wrong to aspire to have that kind of life... it's wrong to buy a pair of $450 sunglasses so that you can pretend you have that kind of life. The argument TLP is making is that these advertisements encourage people to imagine they are living this lifestyle, so that they buy the clothes to complete the fantasy."

TLP FAIL. The point is that this kind of life doesn't exist, even if you have the $450 sunglasses.

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TLP FAIL. The point is t... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 1:17 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Rookie: | Reply

TLP FAIL. The point is that this kind of life doesn't exist, even if you have the $450 sunglasses

Sure it does, but it just doesn't exist in a vaccume. Everyone has moments of effortless fun, many parents have great relationships to their young kids, many no doubt have a cool tolerant attitude to their kids personal choices. You can have that, but just not all the time and not for free. Sometimes your kid will get sick, or have a crap day and cry for no reason and if you want to take care of them properly, have a good relationship then that'll take work and effort.

The mistake is trying to allways exist in that perfect moment, and pretend like everything is awesome all the time. One way to trick yourself into thinking that is to use symbols like your sunglasses or the nail polish.

It exists, just not in isolation.

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Oh man, exactly! Well put.<... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 1:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Rookie's comment, by The Devastator: | Reply

Oh man, exactly! Well put.

I regret that I have but one upvote to give your comment.

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Also, a moment of vertigo: ... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 1:25 AM | Posted, in reply to Rookie's comment, by The Devastator: | Reply

Also, a moment of vertigo: I'm getting the horrible feeling that this is what my dad has been saying all along...

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I think the bad part is whe... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 2:30 AM | Posted, in reply to wilyliam's comment, by Fran: | Reply

I think the bad part is when that Desire can never be completely fulfilled. It's a hungry stomach that is bottomless.

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I think the bad part is whe... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 2:31 AM | Posted, in reply to wilyliam's comment, by Fran: | Reply

I think the bad part is when that Desire can never be completely fulfilled. It's a hungry stomach that is bottomless.

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Probably because the kids c... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 8:58 AM | Posted, in reply to lemmycaution's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Probably because the kids call him gay if he talks about how much he loves hair and lady gaga.

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Sometimes I'm amazed... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 9:53 AM | Posted by TheDavid: | Reply


Sometimes I'm amazed anybody talks about what they see in ads or in TV shows, and sometimes I remember that pop culture is for empty-shelled eggheads.

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I think this blog is approp... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2011 10:44 PM | Posted by belovedparrot: | Reply

I think this blog is appropriate to this discussion . . .

http://catalogliving.net/

"A glimpse into the exciting world of the people living in your catalogs."

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Well, I think it's all abou... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2011 6:39 PM | Posted by artlife: | Reply

Well, I think it's all about the narcissism. Advertising is always about getting you to buy something. There are any number of strategeries to get you to fork over the cash, or increase your debt, whichever fits. The last number of years the angle has been to appeal directly to your self-image. The kid is a prop, to make it look like the lady has a life outside of work. There's no man because she doesn't need one to complete her life except for the friend of a friend who's available when the need arises. Maybe she's gay, maybe the kid was created just in time before the clock stopped. Who knows. It doesn't matter. All that matters is this woman does everything right, she has the right friends and goes to the right parties, and if she puts nail polish on her little boy it's because she's so incredibly spontaneous and fun-loving, and if you think that pink polish is only for girls then you are probably a homophobe and this ad isn't for you. Go to Walmart.
It's an in-crowd. So the ad will appeal to those already in the in-crowd, and those who want to be in the in-crowd.

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"Sure it does, but it just ... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2011 2:56 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Sure it does, but it just doesn't exist in a vaccume. Everyone has moments of effortless fun, many parents have great relationships to their young kids, many no doubt have a cool tolerant attitude to their kids personal choices. You can have that, but just not all the time and not for free. Sometimes your kid will get sick, or have a crap day and cry for no reason and if you want to take care of them properly, have a good relationship then that'll take work and effort"

Exactly, but THAT'S NOT WHAT THEY ADVERTISE. They advertise life as effortless if only you had the sunglasses. There's no work involved.

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The way I read the ad was m... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2011 5:28 PM | Posted by Bertha Minerva: | Reply

The way I read the ad was more like if you're a certain kind of right-on hipster, an "indigo child" would be the coolest accessory ever. It's not about the kid, it's about the mom. Look how open, how accepting, how independent-minded *I* am, with the awesome, free-spirited cool kid that *I* have cultivated.

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Gee. Is there any point to... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2011 6:31 AM | Posted by Trina: | Reply

Gee. Is there any point to this exercise? What sort of advertising DOESN'T throw lifestyle suggestions at you? Is this a slow week for TLP?

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I asked for a barbie when I... (Below threshold)

May 9, 2011 3:24 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I asked for a barbie when I was like 9... she came with a surfboard included. Now, 16 years later I think I should ask my mom what was she thinking?

In other news 20-0 in the gay department, although I certainly am more relaxed on the sexuality scale - I don't run in fear from the thought of MMF threesomes.

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Turns out the mom isn't qui... (Below threshold) Disadvantage: High Prices: ... (Below threshold)

April 29, 2013 2:19 AM | Posted by Chuck: | Reply

Disadvantage: High Prices: you can browse profiles of others free, but only paying members can communicate with each other. But what happens when teenagers get caught up in the glory of online exposure. It is written by two women who have experienced the anguish and misery of being married to men on the down-low.

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I’m a little late to the pa... (Below threshold)

October 31, 2013 2:23 AM | Posted by apeirogon: | Reply

I’m a little late to the party, but these are some of the things that came to mind when I saw the ad, mainly just thinking aloud here.

Regarding the mother-son relationship, my first impression was that Beckett meets his mother on her terms, not the other way around. I.e. Mom and son are not kicking around a football, rock climbing, playing baseball, etc. (all “boyish” activities) but painting nails, dancing, doing indoorsy stuff (all “girlish” activities). That could be the preference of Beckett and that’s not a problem, but I feel like he adjusts to the things that she likes instead of them doing a mix of “boy/girl” activities (I guess mom doesn’t want to get her new J. Crew clothes dirty or anything. Or maybe J. Crew doesn’t sell camping clothes?). This could be false in real life, but that’s the impression I get from the ad. It’s a kind of clean, sanitized, environment, just enough “mess” to make it look like its all-creative fun.

The kid is an accessory. His name is Beckett. That may be a cute name for a boy, but what about when he’s 30? 40? Picture a grown man with the name Beckett. I feel a kind of dissonance there, I dunno, I think its important to give a kid a name that will suite him/her at all stages of life. As a silly but not meaningless example, what if Don Draper’s name was Beckett Draper? Would we have the same impression of him? Would he be the same character? The name Beckett feels like it’s already given the kid a “character” to play. Only in real life, not on some TV show. She’s raising him to be a specific type. The name is just a small part of it.

Also, its totally fine that pink is his favorite color. Today. What about tomorrow? What if Beckett changes his mind, changes the things he likes (he’s a kid, he’s still learning about what he does/doesn’t like, its perfectly normal for preferences to change), I mean I know the name Beckett pre-disposes him to not change his preferences (lol), but what if he starts liking/doing things that don’t make him the perfect accessory anymore? Its all fun and games and disco dancing now, but what about later? Will mom encourage her son if his life wishes don’t match her life wishes for him? What if he turns out to be a straight, pro-life republican?

When you see a girl who’s a total tomboy in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, climbing trees, digging up worms, running around, etc., you don’t think, “Well, that one’s going to be a lesbian.” Is this societal? I don’t think assuming the sexual orientations of kids so early on is right. The kid may/may not turn out to be gay/straight, you’ll know when they hit puberty, in the mean time, treat them like a little growing individual. Teach them how to be a good person, preferably through example.

I think it also kinda wrong that we assign sexual connotations to non-sexual activities, especially regarding children. Children are non-sexual beings. If something they do is "gay", I think that's our adult prejudices regarding behaviour imposed on children. Or how we expect children to behave. Toddlers put lots of things in their mouths from rocks to legos to kleenex, you name it, and we don't infer their future personalities (or orientations, or anything else) from that. "Look at little Jimmy, licking that park bench. That's a future kitchen countertop salesman in the making, right there!"

As an aside, homosexuals almost always seem to be represented by gay men. Where are all the lesbians? How come I’ve never seen a discussion on a little girl who is speculated to become gay? Alone – any thoughts on this?

P.S. I love your blog. Please try to post more often. Or send me a manuscript of your book. Or both. Preferably both.

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I think we can have an inkl... (Below threshold)

October 31, 2013 11:47 AM | Posted, in reply to Rookie's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I think we can have an inkling of what she thinks about her son. For one thing, this child looks to be pre-school age, so we know he's going to start school in a few years. Probably a private rich snot school, and that means that anything "unmanly" is going to get the crap beaten out of the child. Unfortunately, she either doesn't think those things will happen to her child, or she doesn't care. He's a prop. A prop that's going to have a miserable experience in school, but a prop.

Secondly, I think she WANTS him to be feminine in some form or other. She gave him an atypical male name, she's encouraging nail-polish -- pink nail polish at that, and she's got him in long hair. I don't think any of that is accidental, because she not only photographed it, but published the photograph. She could have published a photograph of beckett playing with dinosaurs, or even coloring. She picked nail polish, she actually would have had to do it herself (kids couldn't make their nails look that good at 4, not even girls. I think the signaling is not only "look how rich I am to be able to screw about on Saturday, and sleep in, and all of that" but "Look at how open-minded I am, I have my son in nail polish." The second part is a signal as well, perhaps not that she thinks Beckett is gay, but that she's projecting the image to gay people that she's one of the liberal minded good guys. It makes sense from a marketing standpoint, as gays don't usually have kids, and thus have more disposable income than the straight males who would be put off by this ad. Plus, women like to think of themselves as open-minded, so they would aspire to be OK with a gay or transgendered child. Gender roles are so middle class, almost redneck, so there's another aspirational angle.

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