The Fosters (2013) episode ‘The Morning After’ contains many memorable moments. One in particular involves Jude and Lena discussing identity. During her speech, Lena assures Jude that he deserves no shame for his differences. The ones who should feel ashamed are those who judge others. This defines one of the major messages in ‘The Morning After’ about self-acceptance. This episode of The Fosters revolves around the idea of self-expression sparking fear and loathing, but being a necessary step towards loving oneself.
The Jude and Lena scene–which is one of my favorite moments so far on The Fosters–can be viewed below.
Though ‘The Morning After’ highlights other characters facing fears about self-expression, like Mariana, Brandon, and Wyatt to a lesser degree, Jude’s blue nail polish storyline is the most relatable. As children, we experiment with different forms of changing our looks, and sometimes that means dressing outside of gender specific norms. Doing this can often lead to bullying. Many children would fear having the gay label placed on them for this sort of behavior. However, the writers tenderly do not classify Jude as gay for his actions.
Wearing dresses or makeup does not make a little boy gay nor does it may a little girl straight. The child may later identify as gay, but their activities as a kid should not force them to declare their sexuality. The Fosters’ writers executes the concept of Jude being a child who may later be defined as gay, but for now is just one who likes blue nail polish. Too often society tries to label children before they are ready to label themselves. The Fosters shows that it’s okay to like something and not have it define you. Jude overcomes his fear of the being bullied because of the polish (by accepting Mariana putting the nail polish on him), which grants him the ability to find a family not trying to categorize him in any way (shown by members of the Fosters being okay with him painting his nails).
Originally, Jude’s fear prohibits him from expressing himself. However, Lena’s speech gives him the freedom to allow this part of himself to shine. This then leads to his friend Connor showing support by wearing the nail polish too. Through his self acceptance, Jude finds peace and happiness, and people that really accept him.
Jude’s story is a minor one in this Fosters episode, but it represents a globalized issue of feeling fear about being oneself because of societal norms. Nonetheless, by letting go of fear and showing individuality, people discover those who love their differences.