Boy gets bullied in school for wearing nail polish

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Being different is not wrong!

Bullying is one of the worst things that could happen to a child. One of our worst nightmares as a parent is if our child comes home crying to us that they have been bullied at school.

As parents, we would do anything to protect our children from harm. The last thing we want is to see our child hurt, especially from bullies. 

One dad had enough of his son being bullied in school and decided to share his story through his blog, Daddy Files. And his recent twitter stream about toxic masculinity affecting his second son, Sam, caught the world’s attention too.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

“This is my son, Sam. He’s 5. And today he learned how sh*tty and harmful #ToxicMasculinity is.” he tweeted.

How toxic masculinity caused this dad to speak out

Aaron Gouveia, father to three boys, describes Sam as “a ‘“boy’s boy’ as so many 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”.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

One of the so-called “girly” things that Sam enjoys is getting his nails done. His nails are done by his grandma, who made a living from doing nails at a salon. And Aaron says Sam thinks they “look beautiful”.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

But the trouble started when Sam decided to wear his nail polish to school. And it wasn’t the teachers that called him out on it…

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

But when he came home, Sam was in tears and Aaron could barely make out what he was saying, as Sam was crying that badly.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

Finding out that he was bullied for his nails, Aaron felt moved to share the story on Twitter.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

Aaron told Buzzfeed his children have experienced toxic masculinity in the past.

“My oldest loved the movie Frozen five years ago, but when a parent made a comment at a bus stop that that was a ‘girl movie,’ he completely shut down. He wouldn’t watch it, wouldn’t sing the songs, wouldn’t dance to it. It was ridiculously sad and unnecessary”.

“I think gender norms are a problem for everyone and while we’ve empowered girls to do and be anything, the same doesn’t hold true for boys,” he said. “I speak out to change that.”

He said he wants to encourage all parents to “allow our boys to experience their full range of emotions without fear or shame.”

To encourage Sam, Aaron told him that even Thor and Captain Sparrow also wear nail polish.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

Sam doesn’t stand alone

His Twitter thread has been retweeted over 37,000 times. Many parents shared their personal experiences of how their children were affected by rigid gender roles.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter

After seeing the overwhelming response, Aaron said Sam has the courage to carry on using nail polish.

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

toxic masculinity

Image source: Twitter @DaddyFiles

“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”.

5 tips to help minimise toxic masculinity

Toxic masculinity is prevalent amongst adult behaviour.It’s defined by scholars as stereotyping masculine gender roles that limit the range of emotions boys and men can express. 

Most of us were brought up to think that some things are more “girly”, while others are more “masculine”. But this mindset is changing. As parents that are bringing up the next generation, we have to step in to make a change together.

We can encourage our kids to enjoy expressing a full range of emotions without feeling embarrassed or ashamed due to expectations. After all, they are just children and they won’t know any better unless we teach them!

So here’s what you can teach your kids to reduce the toxic masculinity in this world:

1. Everybody cries

toxic masculinity

Source: Shutterstock

As well as laugh, shout and jump for joy. Emotion doesn’t discriminate by gender and guess what – we all feel the same range of emotions! Repressing your emotions can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health illnesses into adulthood. So encourage your child to express how they feel!

2. Colours are just colours

toxic masculinity

Source: Shutterstock

The age-old adage is that boys like blue and girls like pink. You can avoid this stereotype from early by giving your kids options! The next time your son wants new bedsheets? Let him choose from a range of themes or colours. Pyjamas can be purple, pink or orange. Tell them all the colours look good on them. 

3. Teach about consent early

toxic masculinity

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A staple of toxic masculinity is the assumption that all men are vying to be the alpha male in all social contexts. And if you’re the top dog, you can do and take whatever you want. Of course, that doesn’t fly at any stage of life. Especially with the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment cases in the spotlight in the media, this has become a staple indicator of toxic masculinity. Teaching your sons about consent can be done around something fun like tickling. While it’s fun for the tickler, the tickled might be very uncomfortable. So learning to ask if it’s ok to tickle someone, and stopping immediately if the other party says no/stop is key.

4. Stamp out the idea that “boys will be boys”

toxic masculinity

Source: Shutterstock

Don’t make excuses for your kids if they’re violent or rough or rude and then brush it off as “boys will be boys”. Making excuses for your sons from a young age (or daughters, mind you), will only cement any idea of stereotyping your children might have. Instead, if your son or daughter is being rough, explain to them the consequences of their actions and suggest that they try to be more gentle. 

5. Mind your language

toxic masculinity

Source: Shutterstock

Reinforcing our fourth point, this point stresses on the use of stereotypical language and insults. This type of negative language can increase the risk of toxic masculinity manifesting in your children’s future. It might be second nature to say “you throw like a girl”, or “don’t be a wimp”. But using these types of insults, even if used as banter, demean women and encourage our boys to look down on females as the lesser sex.

A seemingly harmless comment can be leading your children down the wrong path from being an autonomous, thoughtful, and well-developed individual in the future! Toxic masculinity stunts the growth of someone’s character and ability to fully function as a healthy member of society. 

Sources: BuzzfeedTwitter, Wikipedia

Read also: What happened when I raised my boys without gender bias: A dad tells all

Here’s the difference between your kid’s sex and gender and why it matters

In a classic case of gender bias, this girl got expelled from school!

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Written by

Vinnie Wong