UPDATE: Nail giant OPI heard dad Aaron Gouveia’s plea for his bullied son (see story below) loud and clear, launching the #MANiUP campaign to encourage men to experience the joy and empowerment that comes with embracing colour. In a series of videos, the company challenged men in Los Angeles and Milan to get their first manicures while exploring the stigmas that surround masculinity and this particular form of self expression. Watch the video and read about Gouveia’s viral tweet below!
There comes a time in a parent’s life when something happens to their kid that’s beyond their control. For dad-of-three Aaron Gouveia, this happened yesterday when his five-year-old son got bullied at school for wearing red polish on his fingernails.
Gouveia, who runs the site The Daddy Files, posted a thread about the situation on Twitter where he explained what went down. He starts off describing his five-year-old son, Sam, who he and his wife are raising to be able to express his interests, no matter what they are.
According to Gouveia, Sam is “rough and tumble, he’s loud, he’s always dirty, loves trucks, plays sports and knee drops me from the couch.” But, says, Gouveia, he also loves “a lot of ‘girl’ things.” For example, he has a collection of purses because they help him carry treasures around—something a lot of kids this age enjoy. Sam also likes to paint his nails because he thinks they look beautiful.
13 kids' books that challenge gender stereotypesSo not knowing that some people think it’s wrong for boys to wear nail polish (ugh), he wore bright red polish to kindergarten. It was then that his classmates turned on him and teased him for it. “When my wife picked him up from school he collapsed into her arms and cried uncontrollably,” Gouveia tweeted. “He was devastated at how other kids turned on him, even his friends.”
Gouveia’s tweets then turn to the parents: “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.”
He eventually got his son to feel better by telling him that lots of guys wear nail polish such as Thor and Captain Jack Sparrow and that the only person whose opinion matters when it comes to his nail polish is his own. Eventually, Sam decided that he wanted to keep his nails red because he enjoyed how they looked on him, and his older brother painted his own nails in solidarity. So adorable, right? This act of support was so moving, that Gouveia even painted his own nails.
You can check out the full thread by clicking through the tweet below:
This is my son, Sam. He’s 5. And today he learned how shitty and harmful #ToxicMasculinity is. My rage meter is spiking right now so excuse me if this is a little raw but there are some things I want to say about BS #gender norms (a thread) pic.twitter.com/NtoE2VHKsU
— Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles) October 23, 2018
Since Gouveia posted the tweets, the thread has gotten loads of attention, with over 21,000 likes on the initial tweet and almost 13,000 retweets.
People have responded with words of support and encouragement for Sam, with many posting pictures of other men wearing nail polish. “I was able to share some of it with Sam before I left for work this morning and the effect it had on him was stunning,” Gouveia tells Today’s Parent. “When I read all the compliments and showed him pictures of other men and boys wearing nail polish, he was so happy, and it gave him the confidence to wear his red nail polish to school again today. So for that, I’m eternally thankful to everyone who reached out. It really was a beautiful thing.”
Sometimes we want to protect our kids from the harsh realities of the world, but really the best we can do is teach them to know what their values are and how to decide what really matters. So bravo, Aaron. You and your wife have raised a wonderful kid. Keep up the good work!