Who says boys can’t wear nail polish!

When will gender stereotypes bugger off completely?

Are there still parents that refuse to let their son’s dress up in girl’s clothes or play with Barbie dolls?

What about little girls that prefer trucks, super heroes and pants instead of dresses? Are there actually people out there that try to change this behaviour?

I’m a bit passionate about this because I have NEVER reinforced gender stereotypes with my kids.

When my daughter was three she loved balls, hated dolls and to this day has never spent more than five minutes playing with a dollhouse and has never had a dolly she couldn’t live without.

She refused to wear skirts up until a year or so ago and now doesn’t really like pants because she’s worried she’ll look like a boy.


nail polish1

I can only blame school, TV and other kids because there is no way I’ve told her that boys and girls should dress or act differently.

And then there was the time when she innocently told me that her young brother shouldn’t wear nail polish because he was a boy and people might laugh at him.

I nearly blew a head gasket!

Spittle flew out of my mouth as I told her they could definitely wear nail polish and then I prattled on about how some boys love girls clothes and vice versa and that it didn’t matter what someone wore or looked like because we are all the same on the inside.

This is something I say to my kids almost daily, especially when we’re out and about and they see people who look different to them.

It’s our jobs as parents to stamp out this sort of thinking from a very young age, it’s our role to keep our children’s mind’s open because society seems hell-bent on closing them.

What annoys me is that there are obviously still parents, teachers or grandparents reinforcing gender stereotypes and then children such as my daughter are hearing these things and aren’t emotionally mature enough to see this bigoted point of view is just so wrong.


Sure my boys love cranes, diggers and dinosaurs but they also love nail polish, dressing up and watching Angelina Ballerina and I couldn’t be prouder.

I’m shit scared that every second my kids are away from me someone is filling their innocent minds with crap that will make them judge others on their appearance or colour of their skin.

That they will be told that someone will laugh at them if they look or dress a certain way and what makes me so angry is that I won’t be there to hear it and tell them what a load of bullocks it is.

All I can do is my best at home to teach them that it doesn’t matter what a person looks like or dresses like. I want my kids to know that it’s not right to laugh or tease someone because of what they are wearing or how they look.

I admit that some kids often don’t know that what they are saying could be offensive but it’s our job as parents to educate them, especially as they grow.

It’s my belief that if this sort of behaviour and attitude isn’t squashed early then there will be repercussions down the track once these young kids become teenagers.

Is this something that concerns you?


  1. Ha! We have those pjs in a size 3! So cute and cuddly:) And the nailpolish is a stunning addition.

  2. Michelle Holland says:

    Totally agree Em. I have let the boys dress up with my handbags/sunnies and bought them baby dolls (they may be Dads someday!). I don’t even say that when they grow up they might marry a nice girl – I only ever say a nice person! Imagine if they were gay and I had drummed it into them from day dot that they have to marry a girl!

    I say let them be whatever they are going to be – they can play with whatever floats their boat in my book. They love their trucks, trains etc but I have no qualms about buying them ‘girls toys’ or things that are pink!

  3. We grew up playing with dolls and lego, climbing trees and being ballerinas, playing hairdressers and playing cricket. I think it is important for boys and girls to do both, who cares whether they are a boy or a girl. My brother grew up paying dress ups and loving his baby doll possibly more than trucks. I think kids need to explore everything it isn’t just for boys or girls.

  4. I was so happy with Miss TT’s school last week – at kindy they were learning about the letter N and all the kids had their nails painted by the teacher after they had chosen their favourite colour nail polish. Seeing the kids run out to show off their nails to us parents waiting at the end of the day was just gorgeous. The boys were just as excited with their nails as the girls. Let kids be kids and have fun I say! It’s also pleasing to see some toy stores now starting to remove “girls” and “boys” toy sections.

  5. This is so much bigger than the individual. As a parent you can try to avoid stereotypes and teach your kids otherwise, but society and culture bombard them daily with thousands of these kind of messages. Some overt and some are very subtle. The overt messages can be talked about and dissected. The subtle ones are very insidious, and very powerful because they shape the unconscious mind in ways we aren’t even aware of.

  6. I love this Em – as you may have seen, I have a little guy who loves (and sometimes doesn’t love so much) dressing up (or being dressed up). I am laughing myself silly as he, his older sister and her friend, dancing with the right moves to ‘All about the bass’ and talking about ‘all the right junk’ (without understanding what junk is) and yet still (the girls) realising that the song is about not having to be a stick thin barbie girl.

  7. Oh me to I was so not into the stereotypes that when I knew I was having a girl I refused to do pink. I did orange & primary colours instead I wanted it to be her that decided who she was going to be. And not this whole pink prissy princess stuff that’s pushed onto them.
    We only just did up her room with purple stripes… But it was her choice so I’m happy.
    She also constantly dresses Ed up as a fairy & he likes to wear her head bands & I’m happy that they just play & have fun & aren’t fighting! Lol

  8. I feel the same Em. Raffles started school with loads of girl friends… it took about two weeks for him to be teased by the other boys for playing with girls and how there are “boys and girls colours”. Shat me to tears! And was quickly corrected. There are just colours. And they’re for everyone. Luckily Raff’s not big on being told how who he should be and who he can be friends with, so he ignored it. A year and a half into school the boys are now hanging our with Raff and his gal pals and half of them wear nail polish. Society will shove this crap down our kids throats and there are days when I wish I could home school my two… but if we talk to them and teach them and show them through our own behaviour what is right, maybe they can be the change.

  9. Well done! Good on you. I have 3 wonderful sons. All of whom have worn makeup and nail varnish at some point. They’ve had buggies and dolls along with kitchens and cleaning equipment. They’ve worn dresses and heels. All are well rounded and functioning well at school. I applause you.

  10. Great post Em. It hasn’t been an issue for us here. I love it when my kids play dress ups in each other’s clothes. I don’t like it though when they make comments about people that look differently in the street. This I am definitely working on with them x

  11. This issue is pretty much the reason I started my blog! A little part of me dies every time my daughter says something like ‘girls can’t have short hair’ because I try SO hard to quash that sort of thinking in her, but there’s only so much you can do when the outside world is there… I’m going to share a link to this post of yours on my Facebook page 🙂

  12. Yes, definitely it does concern me! We are very big on promoting in our house that girls can do anything. I love the fact that they enjoy dressing up in princess outfits, but also like getting dirty rock climbing with their Dad. The other day my eldest came home and said we couldn’t watch Octonauts anymore because it’s for boys only. What?!

  13. Couldn’t agree more. I bought my daughter an ironing board for Christmas last year. Not because she’s a girl, but because she’d asked for one every day for four months leading up to Christmas. She wrote a beautiful letter to Santa, and really wanted it. Not because it’s girly, not because it was pink (although to be honest, I think that had a little to do with it), but because when I was ironing, she wanted to do it too. Now Mitchell uses it. LOVE it.

  14. Totally agree! I think how you act at home goes a long way, so you are doing a fantastic job Em.

    I think even now I probably comment too much on “how pretty” Miss H’s hair or outfit is, I really need to be careful!!!

  15. My in-laws are the worst and it hasn’t stopped now that there son is a grown man with kids. They nearly disowned him when he changed a nappy and starting playing shops and barbies with our girls because that’s what they were into at the time.

  16. Oh absolutely. One of my girlfriends has a little boy who likes his nails painted and she was gobsmacked when someone at his daycare commented negatively about it!

  17. It scares me everyday that my kids may be influenced by others in a negative way. That’s why I jump on statements they make that are not open or considerate or inclusive. I just wish others in their circle of influence would do the same x

  18. School has a lot to bloody well answer for! Our Mercedes decided when she was four that she hated pink and she hated butterflies (she was very specific!). She spent 18 months wearing Spiderman and Ben 10 t-shirts and trackies and was perfectly happy, until half way thru her Kindy year when she wore her brand new light-up Ben 10 shoes to school on sports day (she was SO proud of those shoes!) and some girls told her they were for boys. She never wore them again. She’s still not one for dresses and fluff, but she’s a lot more conscious of what other kids think.

  19. I’ve found that Dads (ie the hubster) get more uptight about kids (okay boys) playing with or having an interest in toys supposedly for the opposite gender. Wonder why men get so paranoid about it?!

  20. I find it interesting that without a push, some kids fall naturally into the gender stereotypes. I don’t enforce one way or the other with Dyllan but he absolutely loves cars and trucks. My parents didn’t force either way either, and one year for my birthday mum got me a heap of tonka trucks, a car garage and a pack of cars to go with it. Apparently I was not impressed at all and wanted to know where they real presents were lol!

  21. My son-in-law often wears nail polish (he may have even had it on at their wedding). Doesn’t make a difference to us! He’s one of the blokiest blokes around who just has a good sense of self.
    My son also wore a tutu until age 3 and plastic high heels and still colours his hair bright pink and sometimes paints his nails. He’s very much a boy … just likes to let his inner Joel Madden out.
    It’s all good

  22. You bet! Mostly I’m shit scared that my boy will grow up thinking that talking about feelings makes you a sissy and that girls are weak and my girls will grow up thinking that what they look like defines them and that being a girl is somehow lesser than being a boy. Not on my watch. x

  23. OMG yes this scares me – I dont want my boys to grow up afraid to cry or thinking that they shouldnt cook clean or be a stay at home Dad because it is unmanly or whatsoever. Gender sterotypes truly suck, but not as much as people who enforce them upon kids xx

  24. I really don’t like gender stereotypes either. As a mum of four boys I happily paint their nails, brought them dolls on their birthdays and encourage them to do whatever it is they fancy. It has then become a BIG shock when it comes to my daughter. She is a believer in these gender stereotypes! I don’t know where it comes from. She is constantly telling the boys off for singing a ‘girl’ song, or for playing with her ‘girl’ toys or colouring in with a ‘girl’ colour!!! It is horrifying. I am always correcting her and teaching that boys can do and use whatever they like.

  25. I still remember the first time I met my friend’s son. He was 3 & wearing a delightful ensemble of Bob the builder jumper bright pink tutu & rocking green fingernails (was actually a pretty off putting colour).
    That boy is now a 27 yo police officer who plays front row in a number of rugby teams, a member of the riot squad & a loving father of 2 little girls. Whilst I’m sure he no longer wears the tutu or nail polish I have seen him rocking loom band bracelets & a tiara while having a tea party.
    Gender stereotyping says more about the person judging than anything else.

  26. Yes! My 3yo son “Pickle” often wears nail polish. Sometimes this causes comments of concern. I’m quick to point out he is just being creative and enjoying colour, that it will not define his sexuality, and even if it is a reflection of his sexuality then not painting them would hardly make a difference.

    He loves Buzz Lightyear, dinosaurs & cars etc, but equally enjoys parenting his stuffed monkey in a pram or cooking.

    Recently at a fundraising event there was a face painting stall. As we queued, I suggested he go to the front to decide what design he wanted. I expected him to pick the rainbow or perhaps the Frozen inspired design, but he went for Spiderman… So I had to bit my tongue when the mother in front of us told her daughter that she wasn’t allowed to get Spiderman, her favourite cartoon from what I heard, and had to get something that Mummy liked. Says far more about the parent than the child.

  27. I was at a park with a friend and her kids recently, you know just watching the world go by. A young girl was playing alone and then started to climb a tree, but then her dad ran over, pulled her off and said “Girls don’t climb trees. That’s for boys.” I was spewing. He was much bigger than me and I was feeling a bit on the wimpy side so he didn’t get the piece of mind that I’d set aside for him! As an (ex) primary school teacher, this is a topic that really concerns me, it’s up to parents and educators to allow children to experience and do ALL the things regardless of their gender. That goes for colours too. Blue is one of my favourites and I’m rather partial to a man in a pink shirt, just sayin’.

  28. i do paint my nail i do cook and play with girl toys and act like a girl i wear nail polish i dont care want peaple say.and not afed to try new things.and i wear girls colthes because they have cool colthes and i wear nail polish to the pool my friends think is cool to do.and i dont like boy stuff.


  1. […] So be part of the change, please, let your sons know that just like girls they can do and wear anything. […]

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