The older I get and the longer I write a style blog, the more I hone my grooming skills. I mean, it’s not like I was wandering the streets streaked with dirt and sporting a giant rat’s nest atop my head, but I didn’t know how to apply mascara in 2008, didn’t know how to wear blush in 2009, and just recently learned how to flat-iron my hair. I still can’t do a proper smoky eye and am stymied by actual lipstick (I’m a gloss girl), but I’m learning. Slowly.
I will tell you, though, that I am still baffled by the “rules” that seem to surround fashionable nails. Truly and completely baffled, friends. I have decent nails that get bright white tips naturally, and I generally just swipe some clear polish on them. But I heard recently that French manicures are so passé, and I generally look like I’ve just gotten one. AND. According to the various and sundry magazines I read, it is also frowned-upon to match your manicure and pedicure. Not only that, but my field research leads me to believe that stylish women are expected to coordinate their polish colors to their outfits. For years I was perfectly happy with my hot pink toes from May to September, but apparently I was a laughingstock for my relentlessly boring choices.
I am giving myself a migraine as I type this …
Now you all know, I’m no stickler for style rules. They are merely guidelines and should be ignored and subverted at will. So I will not succumb to nail-related pressures for many reasons. And they are as follows.
- I cannot afford regular professional mani-pedis. (Also I have paid for several and NEVER gotten a good one.)
- Since I have to do my own nails, they generally look like this:
- I do not have the time, money, or inclination to swap out polish colors on a daily basis.
- As a dyed-in-the-wool matchy-matchy gal, the prospect of coordinating finger and toenails that “go, but don’t match” makes me feel all twitchy-like.
I suspect that this expectation of neat, color-coordinated nails is not a new one. It’s new to me because it evaded my radar until now, but highly possible that the majority of fashion-conscious people have considered this gospel for decades. And although I don’t want to veer off into Tirade Town for too long, I do feel like this is yet another way to subtly reinforce the idea that wild, unkempt women – ya know, women with giant curly hair or unpolished nails or dog hair on their sweaters – are to be scolded and shamed. That women must be tidy, pretty, and pleasing to look at in ways that have been socially sanctioned.
So I’ve taken to doing bare nails as a minor rebellion. I keep them very short and very clean, but free of polish. No one but me (and now, you) knows this is not sheer laziness, and I’m fine with that. And my choice will undoubtedly have virtually no impact on nail polish norms, and I’m fine with that, too. There are an awful lot of things that women are “supposed” to do to keep their bodies “acceptably” groomed, and I embrace most of them, from shaving my legs to plucking my eyebrows. But I don’t like nail polish, don’t enjoy polishing my nails, and resent the pressure of polish-based expectations. And if you feel the same way,* I’d encourage you to shirk this expectation right along with me.
*Having brought this up a few times amongst a few groups, I get the impression that most people feel FAR less strongly than I do. But just in case anyone else is equally put-out…