For days, Christian Shearhod’s 3-year-old son Ashton had wanted his dad to paint his nails.
“Painting our nails is something that we’ve done since he was pretty young,” Shearhod, a 28-year-old Los Angeles teacher, said in an interview with The Times. “Kind of as a reward.”
But one evening when Shearhod offered to paint his son’s nails, he was met not with enthusiasm but with a “no.”
“I could tell he was kind of upset,” Shearhod said.
He asked what was wrong.
Teacher says it’s just for girls, Ashton replied.
The reaction made Shearhod sad; painted nails had been something that made his son happy.
“We ended up not painting his nails,” he said. “He felt like it was just for girls.”
Shearhod decided to use the incident as a teaching moment to “show him that it’s OK to do these kinds of things.”
He and his girlfriend took his son to Natures Nails in Beverly Hills.
In a TikTok posted by Shearhod, Ashton can be seen at the salon, smiling wide beneath a mop of blue hair.
When asked if he wants his fingernails or toenails painted, he answers: “My hands and my feet.”
“I want pink,” he says.
The video, posted last week, went viral. As of Thursday, it had garnered 4.2 million views on TikTok.
A follow-up video in which Shearhod spoke with a staff member at Ashton’s school about the incident, asking that his son not be told that painting his nails is wrong, has received 1.5 million views.
“I didn’t feel like it was that big of a deal,” he said. “At the end of the day, I talked to one of his teachers, I expressed my opinion. I haven’t had an issue since, and we had a great experience from it.”
Shearhod also asked for understanding for teachers.
“People are so quick to rally and say, ‘Oh, they should be fired. They shouldn’t be a teacher.’ First of all, let’s chill out,” he said. “Most of the time, teachers are very responsive people.”
The response to the videos has been generally positive, with school administrators, teachers and other parents voicing their support and sharing their experiences.
“It was really cool to see people in there talking about how they let their kids express themselves,” Shearhod said.
Still, a small contingent of detractors have voiced their opinions as well, with some stating that Shearhod should teach his son to be masculine.
In another video posted to TikTok, Shearhod responds to a comment asking if Ashton is gay.
“My son is literally 3 years old,” Shearhod says in the video with a perplexed expression on his face. “He can’t be gay, because he doesn’t have a sexuality yet.”
It is not the first time Shearhod has been met with vitriol on social media.
When the 28-year-old, originally from Texas, began dating his fianceé, who is transgender, he shared pro-LGBTQ content. Shortly after, he was “doxxed” — his personal information was leaked on the internet.
Shearhod subsequently relocated to the Golden State, where he received his California teaching credential late last year and landed a new job in Los Angeles at a school he declined to identify.
“Now I try to keep where I work pretty private,” he said.
“I really do enjoy teaching. And I really enjoy social media,” he said. “I just need to make sure that everybody’s safe and happy.”