I'm A Boy & I Wear Nail Polish–Call It What You Want

I'm A Boy & I Wear Nail Polish–Call It What You Want

It's high time we let go of traditional gender roles.


When I was in kindergarten, my mom got mad at me because I told her my favorite color was pink. "Nimesh", she said, "Pink is a girl color." I was only five years old and I didn't really care about what color was associated with what gender. I didn't care about society's dumb rules. I just knew I liked pink.

But over the years, I stopped telling people I liked pink and adopted blue as my new favorite color. As I grew older, I began to internalize society's rigid ideas about gender. The problem was from a young age, I had never been traditionally masculine. I had always enjoyed feminine things, like playing with Barbie dolls. On the playground, I would pretend to be a Disney princess. One time I even tried on my mom's high heels and ended up falling down after two steps. So I grew up knowing I didn't fit the mold of a "normal" boy. I grew up feeling different, feeling like an outcast.

I felt like I had to pretend to be someone I was not in order to please others. I had to hide parts of myself away and put on a show in order to fit someone else's definition of masculinity. I was shackled by the chains of traditional gender roles; I wasn't free to be my authentic self. And that is a horrible way to live your life.

The critically acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie brilliantly notes that "The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Societal norms around gender force boys and girls to contort their personalities in order to fit traditional definitions of masculine and feminine. Gender rebels, people who are gender non-conforming, or people who challenge traditional gender roles are marginalized and often violently harmed. I'm writing this article on Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember those who have been killed because of transphobia. In 2017, at least 29 transgender people were murdered. Nonbinary and genderqueer people are harassed on a daily basis. Clearly, our rigid ideas about gender are harming those who dare to exist outside the box.

Sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are interrelated problems with a common origin- traditional gender roles. Societal gender roles have, for centuries, been used to oppress women. Gays and lesbians have been marginalized because heteronormativity implies that boys are supposed to be attracted to girls and vice versa. By being attracted to men, gay men are going against a gender norm and for that, they have been punished. Transgender people by their very existence challenge traditional ideas about gender- the foundational idea that gender is determined at birth by genitalia and is a fixed, immutable characteristic when in reality gender is a social construct.

Decades ago, women were not supposed to be doctors or lawyers. But now women are the majority of law students and medical students. Gender roles are not fixed; they can adapt and evolve. Gender roles are not passed down to us from some higher power; they are created by people. And I think we could all benefit from a society in which gender roles are less narrow and less oppressive. Ruth Bader Ginsburg says it best in her discussion of feminism, which is worth quoting at length:

I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang "Free to Be You and Me" . Free to be, if you were a girl- doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you're a boy and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that's okay too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers-manmade barriers, certainly not heaven sent.

To me, wearing nail polish is a way for me to be myself and subvert traditional gender norms. After all, the personal is political. And I sincerely hope that together we can build a society where boys and girls are free to be themselves, free to be authors of their own lives without having to live according to someone else's rules, being able to live the way they please without being limited by their gender.

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.

Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.

Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.


The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

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