Yes, I Let My Son Wear Nail Polish

A few weeks ago, Max came home from school asking me if I could paint his nails. Since he has never seen me wear nail polish, or really any makeup for that matter, I was a bit surprised.

I asked him why he would want to paint his nails and his response was that his friends A and P (both girls) painted their nails.

I told him that I would look into buying some polish for him.

He then proceeded to ask me every day after that if I had bought the nail polish yet. Since I had agreed to get him nail polish, I researched and found a non-toxic nail polish brand and showed him and Alexa the color choices. Max chose a sparkly blue and Alexa chose a bubble gum pink.

When the polish finally came, he saw both colors and excitedly asked me to paint one hand blue and one hand pink.

While I was painting his nails, he couldn’t stop telling me how excited he was to show his friends A and P that he had painted nails too. When I finished, the kid was positively beaming.

Unfortunately, this was during spring break so his polish quickly chipped off. He made me promise to repaint his nails so that when he started school, he would have freshly painted nails.

Whenever Max makes decisions that make me concerned about how he will be perceived in public (like the time he insisted on lavender purple and hot pink sneakers), I always try my best to prepare him.

I ask him, do you know that people might make fun of you? Some people might say that those are girl sneakers? Will you be upset if they say that?

He always reassures me that he’ll be okay, that he knows it’s not true, and that boys and girls can like or do the same things.

Of course I can’t help but still worry because kids can be brutal.

He has, on more than one occasion, reported to me that someone from school told him that only girls like purple. If you have followed me from the beginning, you’ll know that Max has loved the color purple since he was 11 months old.

I have always told him that in OUR family, boys and girls can like the same colors and that there is no such thing as a “boy” color or a “girl” color.

However, I had not yet talked to him about nail polish.

So, to my surprise, during one of our nightly talks, while I was putting him to sleep, our conversation somehow drifted to school and he informed me of the following:

He told me that he had recently had to go to a “peace corner” with a school mate.

Max doesn’t usually get in trouble at school so I was surprised to hear this. I quickly asked him what had happened.

He replied that when he shared with his friends that I was getting him nail polish, one of his female classmates yelled that boys cannot wear nail polish.

They had started arguing with each other so they were placed in the “peace corner” to work out their differences.

I asked him how the conversation went.

And I have to say, what he told me next filled my heart with immense pride.

Max let his friend know that boys and girls can do the same things. That this was HIS body and he could do what he wanted. That she might be in control of HER body but he was in control of HIS body. And HIS mommy told him that boys could do anything girls could do too.

I was dumbfounded by his response.

To me, this is about more than whether or not a boy can wear nail polish.

This is about a four-year old boy, standing up for what he believes to be right and refusing to be swayed by peer pressure.

I’m not trying to make a political statement by letting my son wear nail polish. It’s not something I actively encouraged. (Previously, I did not even have a single bottle of nail polish at home.) And I do try to gently steer him towards gender norms because I don’t wish for him to experience society’s disapproval, if I can help it.

But if he insists that it’s something he wants, I am also not going to stand in his way. As he grows up, he will have enough societal restrictions to deal with.

As a parent, it is not my job to block him but it is my job to support him.

My latest mantra to him has been: I can teach you the difference between right and wrong but only you can decide to do the right thing.

And damn kid, you are certainly doing it right in my book.

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20 Comments

  1. Kaleens April 9, 2018
    • Mommy to Max April 9, 2018
  2. Ashley June 20, 2018
    • Mommy to Max July 5, 2018
  3. Michelle March 18, 2019
    • Mommy to Max March 18, 2019
      • desiree May 7, 2019
  4. Cassandra May 8, 2019
  5. Sploonmemes78 May 17, 2019
  6. Shruti Marwaha June 29, 2019
  7. Alexia Conner September 12, 2019
  8. Lisa November 17, 2019
  9. C Byers December 8, 2019
  10. Shyloh February 20, 2021
    • Ryan Allen May 17, 2021
  11. Ruth August 27, 2021
  12. Me August 8, 2022
  13. Eline Ariadne Castaneda September 25, 2023

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