A California man took his toddler son for a manicure after the boy’s teacher said “painting your nails is only for girls.”
“My son came home from school upset because his teacher told him that painting his nails is only for girls, so today I’m taking him to the nail shop!” Christian Shearhod said in a video shared to TikTok on Saturday.
The clip, which now has over 4 million views, captures Shearhod’s 3-year-old son, Ashton, at a West Hollywood nail salon, proudly shouting, “I want pink!” before sitting down for a full manicure and pedicure service.
At the end of the clip, the toddler shows off his bright pink manicured nails.
In an interview with NBC News on Tuesday, Shearhod, a teacher in Los Angeles County, said his son first expressed interest in nail polish around the age of 2.
“Since then, we started painting our nails together,” he said.
When Ashton came home upset after his teacher’s remark, Shearhod said he and his girlfriend hoped to cheer the boy up by taking him to the nail salon.
“I really just wanted to make sure that he didn’t have guilt or shame, because it is something that he enjoyed, and we had done together multiple times,” Shearhod said, adding that he wants his son to enjoy life to the fullest at his age, without “strict gender norms.”
The following school day, Shearhod said he spoke with Ashton’s day care teachers.
“I just told them, 'Hey, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say that kind of thing to Ashton, kind of let him do his own thing,'” Shearhod recalled.
Since sharing the video on TikTok, more than 14,000 users posted comments, mostly in support of the dad and son.
One user wrote, “As a teacher, I am so sorry. I always tell my students there aren’t ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ things. Just things that we like.”
Another user wrote, “I’m a girl, and work on cars. My brother-in-law loves the color pink. My son loves his nails polished. The earth still turns the right way.”
While most responses to the video have been positive, Shearhod said there have been a few negative comments and inappropriate questions, including one user who asked, “So he is gay?”
In a video response, Shearhod said: “He is literally three years old; he can’t be gay, because he doesn’t have a sexuality yet, and you’re not going to assign him a sexuality because he likes feminine things or things outside of his typical gender norm.”
Shearhod, who is dating a transgender woman and identifies as straight, actively shares videos about his life on TikTok and has over 900,000 followers. Most of his videos highlight aspects of his life, including his relationship, which he said makes him a target for hateful and transphobic comments.
“I get stuff on my videos like, ‘You’re gay, you should go kill yourself.’ Like, all that kind of stuff. I’ve never experienced that kind of hate,” he said
Shearhod said that despite the negativity he sometimes receives, he wants to use his platform to advocate for LGBTQ students.
“I just want to inspire students to really want to be themselves, unfiltered,” he said.