Monday, February 14, 2011

A Special Valentine

If there's one thing the kids and I can agree on, it's our love of gender stereotypes. Gosh, we do love them. Birdy enjoys nothing more than imagining herself one day weak and underpaid, teetering around on spike heels that she can just make out below her double-D fake boobs and pink whalebone spank-me Spanx. It's okay that pink's not her favorite color because it *is* her favorite color! I mean not actually, because her favorite color is turquoise, but conventionally, because she's a girl! And if the spike heels get in the way of the karate black belt she is working towards? That's a small price to play for the femininely helpless elegance of a broken ankle. 

To say nothing of Ben and his love of the color blue! Which is at least his 17th favorite color, if not his 16th! He loves blue and all things blue because he's a real boy's boy-y boy-boy. He can hardly wait for puberty when his beard will grow in and simultaneously push out of his facial pores all of the pesky feelings like compassion and empathy that might bog him down in his manhood ascendance to the supreme manly state of feelinglessness and domination and also the utterly natural footballish man-love of watching men tackle each other. Luckily there are no feelings to stir up! Phew.

It is all so good and right. And so, the kids and I were not surprised to see this pair of paint chips at the hardware store.


Sweet Baby Boy and Sweet Baby Girl. Of course. You would not want your customers to get mixed up, and so it's easiest just to make sure they know which is which, kind of like putting signs on the bathroom doors so you don't end up sitting on a urinal to pee. You wouldn't want to *by mistake* paint a room the wrong color and have everyone turn out transgendered and color-gay and whatnot, and so we were very grateful for the help. But imagine our delight when it turned out that one paint company had gone even one step further! 

And that's just for the boys! Birdy's going to paint her room Magenta Vagina or Vulva Rose. She can't decide.

Excellent recipes for two kinds of beets and butternut galette are here.

xo

62 comments:

  1. Oh Catherine, I love you. This is awesome.

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  2. I can only imagine the fun you had making up these names.

    Our girls' rooms are blue and green, and our boys' room is also green. I guess we goofed.

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  3. Julie4:48 PM

    Too funny!

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  4. Now THAT was the best part of Valentine's Day by far.

    Be careful though--"Twilight Testicles" will probably have people contacting you wishing to obtain the kahunas of certain shimmering bloodsuckers. ;)

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  5. Amy in Virginia8:08 PM

    Hahahahahah. Oh, but that is the best belly laugh out loud I have had in a long time. You are a wonderful gem and I am so, so happy to have stumbled onto your blog. Tell Ben I am using his long-haired gorgeousness to inspire my 4-yr-old to grow his own out. Screw stereotypes. Up with vulva teal and testes magenta!

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  6. Teafortwo8:40 PM

    You really do have too many ice dams on the roof up there, don't you?

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  7. I love this. My six-year-old daughter's favorite color is black. It's been suggested to her that it should be pink instead. When I was her age, my favorite color *was* pink (as in I wanted pink hair, pink eyes, pink skin, a whole pink world). My daughter is fascinated with make-up and used black washable marker as eyeshadow recently because the only makeup I own is powder. Let the gender-bending/twisting continue!

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  8. Sharon1:17 AM

    You ROCK. Seriously. That's what my 7-year-old son who loves to play with his sister (including her 'girl-games') and is hoping to grow up, become a rock star, pierce his ear, and 'maybe be one of those guys who DO wear makeup' would say. He also loves Pokemon, horsing around (you know, the 'boy way'), and hip-hop. No pink in his wardrobe and his hair doesn't grow long, just BIG... but still. THANK you, Catherine.

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  9. I once read (in Brain, child I believe), that pink was once considered a very masculine color (which is interesting, but still weird, because last I checked colors don't have genitals).

    My children mix it up. Unicorns and dump trucks. When my son puts on flowered pants for school, I secretly love that he doesn't yet know that he's wearing "girl's pants," but I also hope that if a classmate tells him, that they're gentle.

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  10. Anonymous9:21 AM

    I too have a "Princess Boy," but I see this paint color name as referring to a "retro" color. Like a fifties-ish cultural reference. True it's kind of a stupid name, but I'm not sure it's worth paying too much attention to. Perhaps I am naive, but I really don't think people paint boy rooms and girl rooms baby boy blue and baby girl pink.

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  11. Anonymous9:52 AM

    Teafortwo cracked me up! I, too, and loving hearing you let it rip these days.

    I have to admit, when my husband very gently removed my three year old boy's valentine's day stick-on earrings before we sat down to dinner with his grandfather, my heart broke a little. This is my stay-at-home- dad husband whose favorite winter scarf is pink stripes, has mostly women friends, and had hair down to the middle of his back as a teenager. Now it's breaking my heart that I let it pass with only a mild reproach. I guess it caught me so off guard because that's not his style. At all. Hmm. --Cathy K

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  12. Vuvla rose. Definitely.

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  13. MeggieB2:20 PM

    I painted my girls' room purple-- because it's MY favorite color and they couldn't tell me they wanted otherwise at the time! I really enjoy the pre-verbal time when I call all the shots and they happily compy. Soon my choices will be super lame, but I like looking at the purple in the meantime!

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  14. Kristen3:38 PM

    Love how you go straight from Magenta Vagina or Vulva Rose to a beets recipe!
    I remember Ben's favorite "pink stripey-stripe" shirt too (I think that's what you called it).
    Great post!

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  15. Anonymous7:27 PM

    I love you.

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  16. Perhaps to make it easier they should just stamp the babies Girl or Boy as they leave the hospital...or have the midwife do it if at home? ;)

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  17. I have been thinking a lot about this issue lately, because I have a bit of a princess boy myself. Granted, he's only 2 years old, and he does love football (thanks to his daddy) and his trucks, but at the moment his favorite shoes on earth are his bright red "sparkle shoes" which one of his awesome teachers bought him after noticing that he was pretty much living in the pair from the dress up corner. I have let him wear them everywhere from the store to church, and I thank god that he is still oblivious to the stares he gets. He's too busy strutting around like a proud peacock-boy.

    Love this entry, thank you.

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  18. heather1:22 PM

    this rocks! this all pisses you off as much as it does me ... nice post. vulva rose, hah!

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  19. Maybe we should just dip babies in a vat of blue or pink dye at the hospital so we don't have to risk any of that pesky gender "confusion." That way everyone will know their favorite colors just by looking at an arm or a leg. No thinking necessary!

    I saw some PBS Special (or something like that) that some, oh, 300 years ago, blue was the girl color and pink (because it's related to red, which is aggresive and bloody) was the boy color. Isn't that a switcheroo!

    (And how many times have I heard myself say to my students, "There is no such thing as a 'boy color' or a 'girl color.'"Aaargh.)

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  20. dale_in_denver2:53 PM

    Oh, lord. Who peed in your wheaties? Kidding.

    This post is excellent!

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  21. Anonymous6:22 AM

    Really?? I guess I'm not on the same band wagon as the rest of you....
    No offense intended, Catherine, but aren't you, in essence, reverse sterotyping your kids but implying (or flat out saying) that such things as pink for girls and blue for boys is wrong?? Making such comments and jokes about all of this tells your kids a very strong message, as well.

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  22. As the mother of a girly-girl tomboy, I just had to laugh... One day its princess dresses and sparkles, the next it is Nerf guns and war paint. And sometimes it is both in one day! The most important thing to me is that she feels like she can be anything and do anything she sets her mind to!

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  23. STOP IT! I've had three babies! Don't you know making me laugh like that will cause me to PEE MY PANTS?!? xoxo

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  24. I have three girls. They all really like pink. Big deal. Well, actually, when I asked my 4 year old her favorite color, she said "rainbow". If people bought us pink baby gifts in the past, and hand us down their pinky girly clothes, who am I to say "no, it's too pink"? And if my 7 year old wants a pink room with hot pink trim, is it right for me to say "no, it's too pink"? Nah. While I'm no fan of gender-typing, I'm not purposely dressing them in boys clothes to proove some point either. Love you to bits, Catherine. Agree with you 99% of the time even! Just having a pms-y day and need some chocolate NOW. (How's that for gender-typing?!) ;-)

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  25. MaOdiLeo10:24 AM

    :)))
    These days, I was forced into reflexion and discussion with colleagues about what is feminine and masculine appearances. A masculine colleague of mine has come out recently as being in the process of transsexuality (man to woman). She is now wearing no more brown and black, and more colors like light blue shirts and purple tights. For her, it was impossible to wear those colors as a man. Obviously, there are more profound issues for her than colors but it is an important part of the change she is undergoing. On the other hand, I was discussing with a feminine colleague how we almost never wear make up, wear in black and brown a lot, are in slacks most of the time and never felt otherwise as (heterosexual) women. As for my transsexual colleague, she is going fully in the make up, skirts, pink "feminine" appearance that I don't like as a woman. And my "masculine" partner, a man, likes to wear pink shirts and was once called bad names for wearing bright yellow shorts.
    Hope I am not being too serious again...
    Thanks anyway for bringing up the discussion in a very funny way!

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  26. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Catherine, I love this. You are wonderful. Please, please more from you on this topic. We *need* it. We need to know how to manage this issue with humor and elegance in a world that is often not funny or elegant on this topic.

    My husband almost got beat up once on a Sunday morning outing to the farmer's market because he took our three year old son to the men's room to go pee. Our son who happened to be wearing his favorite pink dress. He's older now and out of the dress phase (my son, not my husband, who has yet to have a dress phase, I guess?), but we still get a lot of comments about his beautiful long hair.

    It's not that there's anything wrong with girls who actually like pink and princesses or boys who like blue and trucks. Obviously that's fine and I'm quite sure Catherine thinks so too. But the world is sometimes very hostile to children who are making different choices.

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  27. HAHAHA! I knew you were getting worked up to something good here, but your paint chip names still caught me off guard and caused me to do the loud laugh! (and then break my lurking to comment!) Love those Manly Shades o' Blue.

    ...and now I see my captcha is "perspit" which is fitting as I think I may have spit a little bit too with the sudden laugh...

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  28. Kimberly B3:55 PM

    This is my favorite Catherine Newman post of all time!

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  29. All I was going to say was "I love you" but a few people beat me to it. (i love you!)

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  30. Love this post. On a similar note, I absolutely HATE the phrase, "he is ALL boy" when people talk about one of my three boys...wtf is THAT suppose to mean? It just makes me cringe every time I hear it. Thanks for your thoughts...and the delivery couldn't be better.

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  31. The angriest I've been in a long time was when I wanted to buy boots for my son, who was 5, and he wanted the ones with little flowers on the ankle and the store clerk said, "No, those are for girls." I wanted to smack her. WTF, lady? Can't a boy be fancy if he wants to? I told him she was wrong, flowers are for everybody. He didn't end up choosing them, and I can't help wondering if he would have felt more free to if she hadn't spoken up.

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  32. Great post. What always gets me (as the mom of three boys) is when someone says, "oh, he is ALL boy"...wtf is THAT suppose to mean? Just makes me cringe when I hear it. Thanks for making such an important point in such an entertaining way!!

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  33. Anonymous8:39 PM

    I wish everybody would read this post. It's important! I have two girls, and they can wear boyish clothes and play sports (until they are teens and have to dress like prostitutes and suppress their intellect so boys will like them) but heaven forbid a boy crosses the line in to girl world.

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  34. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Yikes on the paint (ok, stereotype) issues!! It's been my experience that most stereotypes are actually founded in, well, reality, and usually there is darn good reason for them. I admit that extending them to paint colors is a bit murky, so to speak. I kind of understand your angst.

    Regarding the butternut galette thing... made it tonight using a warty Blue Hubbard, rosemary instead of thyme and mix of Parmesan w/a touch of cheddar (cause this is what the larder bore). I've never been good at pastry, but thanks to you, have entered a new realm of life - successful pastry maker. This recipe ranks up there with the baked tomato sauce that is in my "so good you'll cry" (sniff)file. SO GOOD!!

    Best,

    Bette

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  35. Oh, my husband and I laughed so hard at this. Thanks!

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  36. LOL! But I do think that last one ought to be called corpse penis ;)

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  37. Awesome article, Catherine. You may have already seen this on Salon, but just in case...

    http://www.salon.com/life/real_families/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/02/21/son_looks_great_in_dress

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  38. MaOdiLeo10:23 AM

    Mandy, thank you for the link to the Salon very interesting article.

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  39. Catherine -Let me start by saying how much I enjoy your writing and admire you as a mother. So, please don't be offended by my comment...
    I understand not wanting to box your kids into growing up according to a certain stereotype, but I wonder how would you react if Ben's absolute favorite color was blue and he dreamed of being a professional athlete and Birdy was obsessed with high heels and pretty pink things....would this be ok with you?

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  40. Alysa1:53 PM

    Oh, Catherine, just when I thought I couldn't possibly love you even more. You rock.

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  41. Anonymous4:56 PM

    One of my girls likes horses, and one likes snakes. My god I must be a fantastic mother then, right?

    Their choices are not your pride, lets try to remember that.

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  42. Color-gay! HA! You killed me dead. So funny and dead-on right. And, commenters, I am pretty sure Catherine would love her children if Birdy loved pink and Ben loved blue. Come on now. This is Catherine we are talking about!

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  43. Which is why I painted the nursery yellow.

    But then you know what I think about all that.
    xo, hope all y'all are well.

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  44. I named my daughter Indigo, so you can guess how much I care about the "blue is for boys" notion.

    On the other hand, she's currently wearing a tutu, tiara and those sparkly Target shoes. If she's like her sister, she will grow out of this phase when she gets out of pre-school.

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  45. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Catherine, I have been reading your columns forever and don't remember if I've ever posted a comment before. But, let me just say first, that you are my favorite writer, ever. You simply capture the experiences of parenthood as no other can. And, I just had to comment on this post because I have been very intrigued by gender stereotypes all my life. I was one of those girls who loved all things "boy" when I was little. I wanted boy clothes, boy haircut, a pocket knife, a pocket watch, cowboy boots, a football jacket, a huffy bike and so on. My mother was truly traumatized when I insisted on picking out the outfit for my 4th grade school picture from the boys section: it was a lovely striped maroon and blue shirt with a matching sweater vest from JCPenney. She still brings this up at least once a year and I am 43. It made an impression. When my twin girls were born, I did not like pink, had never liked pink - and could not bring myself to decorate their nursery in pink or pastels, so I went with a Peter Rabbit gender neutral theme. As they grew, the more "girl" colors grew on me and I did add more traditional colors to their wardrobes and their bedroom. Then, of course, they discovered on their own that pink and purple WERE their favorite colors after all. And, I thought in my late 20's and early 30's, that surely I must be gay, given my propensity for all things boy and really identifying more with boys than girls. But, it didn't turn out to be so. I may fall somewhere on the middle-upper scale for sexuality, but I am happy and content in a heterosexual relationship. I just find it all fascinating that even gender identity doesn't ensure sexuality. I do wish our society was more accepting of people who don't fit in these traditional molds, but hopefully we are working toward that in the future. It took me years to sort it all out. I have four kids and I hope that they have an easier time figuring these things out and will be comfortable however they choose to live their lives.

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  46. Sophia Tracht3:43 PM

    Hilarious. Thanks for the giggle...I actually snorted with laughter!

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  47. Cheryl12:35 PM

    Hi!

    I don't know if you've seen the new weshop.com venture that Amazon is using to compete with groupon. It is a legitimate company that I have used. They offer gift certificates (usually online only) for 50% off the value. It does take a few days to maybe a week for the company to send your coupon code. Anyways, I bring this up because today's deal is a $50 g.c. for $25 to use at AreYouGame.com for board games! I hope the following link works (It did for me): http://go.madmimi.com/redirects/0864edd3cbd66a65d8b417ba28f81c1b?pa=3025885771
    But I thought of you and your blog and your family's love of board games. Hopefully it will bring a little added entertainment - not that there ever seems to be a dull moment in the Newman household!

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  48. Will you please post some information on slow cookers?! I'd love to know your thoughts/findings/recommendations. Thanks!

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  49. Will you please post your pressure cooker recommendations? Thanks!

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  50. I never meant to imply that Catherine wouldn't love her kids if they loved pink and blue. I just think when we put too much emphasis on either fitting into a stereotype or on rejecting the stereotype it ends up the same way, with the kids choosing what will make the parents happy.

    I have 2 kids and while I encourage them to embrace their unique qualities, I don't feel the need to stress that they should be different just for the sake of being different.

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  51. Laura1:09 PM

    I agree with Amy about the kids choosing what makes the parents happy. Well said.

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  52. LMAO! I recently read--can't remember where (thanks, mommy-brain)--that before WWII pink was for baby boys, blue for girls. Hmmmmm.....

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  53. When they were little my daughter's favorite color was blue and my son's favorite was pink. She dressed him in a feather boa. They held hands and sang. Now they drive to school together sharing the ipod. They comment about a range of cool colored cars. I could be wrong but I think they're still singing.

    Thanks for shakin' it up.

    I found you at 6512.

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  54. Sharon11:09 PM

    Just had to add (very belatedly) that my son is sporting BRIGHT orange toenail polish. He's almost 8. I told him I was fine with him getting it (he came with me when I got a pedicure and his sister was getting her nails painted, too), but that he had to be prepared that some kids might think it's weird or tease him for it. He said he could handle it. So far, so good. But then again, it's not summer when he'd be running around in flip-flops. I wanted him to know both sides - that it is fine, some boys do like polish, BUT he has to understand that not everyone may be kind to him about it.

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  55. Someday, could you talk to us more about how you help Ben (or how he helps you) deal with the kids and/or adults who comment negatively on his pink choices? I have a daughter who's very interested in traditionally "boy" things, and it's easy for me to be ok with it, but I fear the hurt that may come in later years. I need some tools.

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  56. You were the only real thing at Disney, far, far too good for them. I have to believe for you that this is because a door is opening to an even more amazing writing home. I found you whilst pregnant with my just-turned-eight daughter and have considered you a friend ever since, can't wait to see where you'll wind up next! Onward and upward!

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  57. You were always, always too good for Disney, the most real and yet magical thing they had (and the only reason I ever went there). I can't help but trust that there is a wider, bigger more amazing door opening onto another writing home for you and I can't wait to see what it is! I found you while pregnant with my now eight-year-old daughter and was grateful for you beyond measure all through that first year and ever since. So much love and gratitude and promise of continued readership to you!

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  58. I, too, love you!! Inspiring, in so many ways.

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  59. Dear Catherine,

    Thanks for ever enjoyable writing, and lots of ideas for naming colours. It's like colour of lipstick, nail varnish - hours of silly fun.
    I have to comment on the colour thing, since I am a mother of two girls, but also an MA-student in fashion studies. (How did I get here? Long story.)

    The colour pink: one hundred years ago it was considered such a strong, masculine colour that some people thought it wholly inappropriate for girls.

    The colour lightblue: very effeminate.

    All this changed after WWII. The super polarization - with huge divides in colour coding for boys and girls, on clothes, toys, furniture, etc - has occured over the last 20 years. I remember it happening.

    Fun intelligent read, recommended: Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, only just published.

    Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again for lovely writing. Catherine, I discovered your writing on Babycenter almost 11 years ago, when I - new to the internet - wrote www.baby.com, and found you!

    Happy weekend!
    Sincerely,
    Erika, Stockholm

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  60. dale in denver6:27 PM

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110413/ts_yblog_thelookout/hot-pink-toenailed-boy-in-j-crew-ad-sparks-controversy#mwpphu-container

    I love the comment from The Stir blogger at the end.

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  61. Fantastic.

    beckcourtpress.blogspot.com

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