Blue is for boys and pink is for girls, we’re told. Boys play with cars and trucks. Leave the Barbies and baby dolls to girls, we’re told. Very early on, we’re taught these gender norms and what is generally acceptable for both sexes and it influences us as we get older and affects how we, too, judge those around us.
Aaron Gouveia, father of three from Massachusetts, has seen the affect that these gender norms have had on his sons, and most recently with middle son, Sam. He shared the unfortunate experience in a thread that has since gone viral on Twitter.
Sam is my middle child & he’s a terror. A “boy’s boy” as so many (not me) would say. He’s rough and tumble, he’s loud, he’s always dirty, loves trucks, plays sports and knee drops me from the couch. But he also loves a lot of “girl” things.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
Sam has a collection of purses because he likes to carry things around. And he also loves to have his nails painted bright colors because he thinks they “look beautiful.” And he’s right – they are beautiful… pic.twitter.com/tdMdpJZH5w— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
So he proudly wore his red nail polish to kindergarten this morning because Sam has absolutely no concept of nail polish only being for girls or reason to think anyone would possibly have a problem with beautiful nails. pic.twitter.com/WsHHupgw9H— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
But his classmates did have a problem. A big one. Sam was ridiculed for being a boy with nail polish. They called him names and told him to take it off. This lasted the entire day.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
When my wife picked him up from school he collapsed into her arms and cried uncontrollably. He was devastated at how other kids turned on him, even his friends. He asked them to stop but that just made it worse. Only 1 kid stood up for him.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
“Daddy, I want mommy to take off the nail polish so they don’t make fun of me.”— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
My son is far from perfect but he’s got a huge heart and empathy for miles. He finds beauty in everything around him and for 5 years he’s never been afraid to be different because different has never meant “bad.” Until now.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
“I know these kids are only in kindergarten but this toxic masculinity bullsh*t is LEARNED. Learned most of the time from parents. So parents, I hope you’re proud. I hope this is what you wanted. I hope you’re satisfied.”-Aaron Gouveia, Daddy Files (Twitter)
My wife and I spent five years successfully preaching tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of expression and your kids unraveled that in one school day. He now feels the shame you desperately want to associate with being different.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
I told Sam he could take off the nail polish if he wanted but lots of guys wear it like Thor (@chrishemsworth) & Capt. Jack Sparrow. He asked if his fav football player @robgronkowski did. I’m not sure but I told him yes. Sorry, Gronk.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
But more importantly I told him it doesn’t matter what anyone else does because what you wear and how you look should make YOU look good. And to hell with everyone else.— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
That moved me to paint MY nails. Sam picked out this color called “Main Squeeze” & I think it’s understated but lovely. Sam is sticking with red because “it’s pretty and good luck for the @patriots.” #ItsOnlyWeirdIfItDoesntWork pic.twitter.com/KtuwldiEJw— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
Gouveia shared with BuzzFeed News that he felt it was important to speak out about this because he’s seen “how dangerous these boxes we put boys into really are.” He referenced a time when his oldest son loved the movie Frozen but wanted nothing to do with it after a parent at the bus stop referenced it as “girl movie”.
Same happened to my boys.. teased at school for trying nail polish, came back in tears and embarrassed by classmates! They loved to see mums nails pretty so they wanted the same! My youngest still picks my varnish colour…— Jenny J (@iepmgu) October 25, 2018
And for a long time, his favorite color was pink but I think #ToxicMasculinity somehow changed it for him along the way. :(. But he had a whole bunch of pink T-shirts that he loved.— Jen Z (@JenZny) October 28, 2018
My youngest son has been a QB since 4th grade and also plays on an elite travel baseball team. Needless to say he has an abundance of confidence. I recall him painting his nails a number of times through 5th and 6th grade. The key is to have confidence…— Walt (@crankybouvier) March 31, 2019
Thanks for this! My sporty, rough-and-tumble little boy also likes doing ballet and having painted nails. He’s managed the nails without being teased, but ballet is hard — kids who know nothing about it make fun of him, and he’s stopped. Hate stupid, narrow gender roles so much.— Irina Dumitrescu (@irinibus) October 23, 2018
Please tell ur son from a 36 y.o. woman, who loves wearing ball caps & carhartts, camping, fishing, using power tools & chain saws & ALSO loves getting her nails done & wearing dresses (not at the same time as ball caps #standards) that his nails are AWESOME and I love his purse!— Erika Savage (@SavageRavenAK) March 31, 2019
You rock as a dad and Sam is the coolest ! Both my sister and I painted our sons nails when they asked. Nail polish hand bags and makeup is not just for girls. 💞 Sam— DMG (@dmgdeborah) March 31, 2019
Sam is the coolest kid ever! He’s my role model!— NewYorkCityKopp (@KellyrKopp) March 31, 2019
My grandson (7), is a bit like your son: he loves unicorns, he doesn’t paint his nails but he loves to do mine, and his favourite colour is pink. Several of his classmates have made fun of him for that. Tell Sam that there are more kids like him: sweet and brave. You’re awesome!— PatD (@Mapleeyes) April 1, 2019
You are an amazing dad and you and Sam’s mom and everyone supporting him are the reason why the world will be just a little bit better for everyone with kindness and tolerance and difference and love. Thank you for teaching him all of these things. And keep rockin that polish.— Katie Kellert (@katiekellert) March 31, 2019
You are a fabulous & loving dad!!! 😭❤️ I hope the other parents get educated before it’s too late for their kids. So sorry this happened to your wonderful son!— FrancoFreedElizabeth’sSoul 👩🎨👨🎨🌹❤💍 (@Katie00901) March 31, 2019
My 6-yr-old joined me in a manicure this weekend & wanted red nails! His baseball teammates thought it was funny, but all was OK. I was nervous about school today, but he said he just showed off his nails & no one said anything! Hang in there, Sam! pic.twitter.com/3bwH6bSM8i— Michele (@Grafxcowgirl) October 23, 2018
Hey, Sam! My husband is a firefighter who saves lives and drives big red trucks and puts out fires. He loved your nail polish color and decided he wanted red, too! Just like those firetrucks. #SamSolidarity pic.twitter.com/uoQPift05U— Kristan Higgins (@Kristan_Higgins) October 23, 2018
Gouveia also shared that he showed Sam all the outpouring of love and support from Twitter. “When I read those supportive tweets to him this morning and showed him pictures of men and boys with nail polish in support of him, it gave him the confidence to go to school with his nails painted this morning for the second day in a row,” he said.
It’s pretty amazing to see everyone coming together on this thread in #SamSolidarity.
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