Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Questions Why Son Is Wearing Nail Polish

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has started wearing nail polish. He has always been artistic, but this is a new practice. He is 16 years old and quite independent as he comes close to the end of high school. I know he wants to explore his personality and interests without our intervention, but I am curious about the polish. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is gay, but I do wonder about this choice and what is on his mind. I am open to whoever my son is becoming, and I want him to talk to me. How can I get him to open up? If he is gay or exploring it, I want to know that, too. -- What Nail Polish Means

DEAR WHAT NAIL POLISH MEANS: Stop making assumptions and talk to your son. Ask him why he started wearing nail polish. Listen to see what he says. While most straight men may not wear colored nail polish, polish itself is no clear sign of someone’s sexual orientation. At my nail salon, for example, at least 30 percent of the men coming for manicures and pedicures appear to be straight men who care about their grooming.

If you are curious about your son’s sexual orientation, ask him directly and without judgment. Tell him you want to be able to support him as he becomes a man, so you want to know what is going on in his life. Encourage him to open up to you. Know that nail polish may only be a sign of creative exploration of his personality.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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