My take is pretty simple: Jenna Lyons is apparently not overly blessed with parental intelligence, to put it as kindly as possible.
It began when a photo of J. Crew's president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting the toenails of her son Beckett in an ad was sent to customers last week in a feature, "Saturday with Jenna."
"Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink," says the caption. "Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."
Do I think she was trying, as president and creative director of J. Crew, to send a pro-trangendered/pro-LGBT message by allowing the photo of her towheaded boy wiggling his poster-paint-pink toes in the consumer advertisement? Well, no, primarily because charity demands that I not believe a mother could be that selfishly exploitative of her own son without some sort of evidence that she is that kind of person, which does not exist. Since I have no basis to believe that she is a selfish and exploitative mother, then, I must sadly conclude that she was simply clueless; that she failed to realize that what is probably a cute little custom in their home would appear to be sending a pro-LGTB message in our politically charged culture.
And based on the reality of LGTB organizations cheering this ad as some sort of breakthrough/validation/super-duper special moment in corporate America, the inadvertent message was sent--which, I think, is what some of the right wing backlash is addressing, not so much the photo of the boy and his mom and their nail-polish game.
Now, I have girls, so I can't say if I would have been the sort of mom who thought it was cute, or just sort of weird, to let a little boy run around in my high-heels with lipstick and nail polish, or whatever it is some moms of some sons think is cute these days; but if I had been that sort of mom, I would have limited the photographic recording of these games to a couple of sweetly embarrassing pictures to be saved aside for the little tyke's engagement party or something. I would not have posted them on Facebook to be easily shared by all my contacts, and I certainly wouldn't be so thoughtless as to put them in an advertisement going out to total strangers--creating the very real risk that my hypothetical son's real playmates would see it and tease him about it. That's just not a "cool mom" thing to do, in my opinion.
Because--let's face it--kids grow up. One day they're posing in a onesie on the living room rug; the next day they're playing in the dirt wearing a diaper and a smile; the next day they're letting you paint their toenails pink; and a week or so later they're navigating their teenage years, which is hard enough to do without being known as The Boy With the Pink Toenails. Or the Babbling Twins on Youtube. Or...but you get the idea.
When it comes to parents behaving rather cluelessly, though, I have a credo: never ascribe to politics or malice or an agenda what can be chalked up to short-sightedness or plain stupidity. Because, as every parent knows, we all have our stupid moments; and the Golden Rule sort of requires that we look past other parents' stupid moments with the same tolerance and good humor with which we hope people are viewing ours.