A father has been praised online for sharing a Twitter thread about “toxic masculinity” after his five-year-old son was mocked at kindergarten for wearing nail polish.
Aaron Gouveia, from Massachusetts, is a former journalist, father of three sons and founder of parenting site Daddy Files.
His middle child, Sam, has a number of hobbies that are stereotypically associated with young boys, including playing sports and being interested in trucks.
However, as Gouveia explains on Twitter, Sam also enjoys doing activities that are stereotypically associated with girls.
“Sam has a collection of purses because he likes to carry things around. And he also loves to have his nails painted bright colours because he thinks they ‘look beautiful.’ And he’s right - they are beautiful,” Gouveia writes.
Gouveia had no qualms about his son going to kindergarten wearing nail polish. However, neither he nor his son anticipated the mockery that Sam would face from his classmates.
“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,” Gouveia explains.
“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.”
Later that day, Gouveia was upset to hear his son ask to have his nail polish removed as a result of the bullying that he’d received.
“My son is far from perfect but he’s got a huge heart and empathy for miles,” he writes.
“He finds beauty in everything around him and for five years he’s never been afraid to be different because different has never meant ‘bad’. Until now.”
In Gouveia’s opinion, Sam’s experience at kindergarten has emphasised the fact that toxic masculinity is taught to children by parents at a very young age.
“My wife and I spent five years successfully preaching tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of expression and your kids unravelled that in one school day,” he writes in a tweet targeted at the parents of the children who derided his son.
“He now feels the shame you desperately want to associate with being different.”
Gouveia encouraged his son to paint his nails an even brighter shade, and to ask the children in his class why they were making fun of him.
Sam’s 10-year-old brother then decided to paint his nails “in solidarity” with his younger brother, with Gouveia following suit.
“Intolerant parents and their offspring scored a minor victory today but they don’t win the war,” Gouveia writes.
“Be brave and shine bright, my beautiful polished boy. Know that mum and dad always have your back and if the rest of the world has a problem with your nails, they can check out my nail polish!”
A number of people have commended Gouveia for his stance on toxic masculinity, with some sharing photos of their children with painted nails.
“My son is 15 years old. He used to paint my nails and I’d paint his,” one person wrote.
“He is comfortable in his skin, wears whatever the hell he wants - swims has pink and purple suits. Wears pink socks or shoes because he likes them.
“Tell Sam he’s a badass."
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