Male painted toenails not that uncommon

April 18, 2011 at 1:45 AM
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LUBBOCK, Texas, April 18 (UPI) -- A J. Crew catalog ad of a mother and son with his toenails painted neon pink has incensed some, but two U.S. psychologists say male painted toenails are common.

Two Texas Tech University psychologists say men and boys painting their toenails and fingernails are more common today than many might think -- although they acknowledge it may have been unheard of 30 years ago.

Erin Hardin, associate professor, compared toenail painting to the way children dress in a costume or play with toys typically reserved for other genders. He said such activities do not determine or "mess up" a person's gender or sexual identity.

Hardin said people often confuse gender, gender-role behavior and sexual identity as the same thing when they are three separate aspects:

-- Gender refers to the deep internal feeling of male or female that one has about himself or herself.

-- Gender-role behavior refers to typical activities stereotypically performed by males or females.

-- Sexual orientation refers to the gender or genders one finds emotionally, spiritually, physically and sexually attractive.

Christine Robitschek said it's not uncommon to find not only boys, but also grown men who identify as male and heterosexual yet have painted fingernails and toenails.

"Today's society is getting comfortable with more fluid gender-role behaviors and people are engaging in a wider variety of activities rather than assigning strict gender labels to these behaviors," Robitschek said in a statement.

Society has changed standards regarding women wearing suits, girls playing with trucks or Renaissance men wearing wigs, lace and high-heeled shoes, Robitschek noted.

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