Nails and the Modern Woman

by: Raine

I don’t know about the Dark Ages, but the modern woman has a serious preoccupation with her nails. In this globalized statement I include myself (or perhaps  base it on myself). But as demonstrated by the innumerable establishments devoted to nail care, beautification, “gaudification” and mutilation that there are in the United States alone (over 300,000), its safe to assume that nails are quite the rage amongst the fashionable woman.

So no sane person would get acryllics like this, but that's still pretty frickin' cool!

Now why, I continually wonder, are we so fascinated by nails? They grow. They break. They get those annoying little white spots whenever they damn well please. They grow from under cuticles, the most temperamental of body parts. (Ever had one rip and continue its detachment up your finger?) They scratch randomly at their fickle wills. They get in the way. They tempt even the most self-controlled woman to bite them when we are frustrated or anxious. WHAT THE HELL IS IT ABOUT NAILS?

Can you imagine breaking one of THOSE nails? ICK!

I am a cellist. As a cellist, nails are a no-go. If I even have a sliver of nail growing beyond the quick I find it uncomfortable to play. I have nail clippers in my purse, in my cello case, in my bathroom, in my bedroom. However, the fact that I must do this distresses my inner beauty queen. I walk around and see pretty nails everywhere. I hand over a five at a cash register and the sales woman holds out a very beautifully polished hand to collect it. I speak to singers who tuck their well-groomed locks behind their ears with perfectly lovely acrylics. Should this matter to me? I have no need of nails. In fact, my nails should just be plucked from my hand with the amount of need I have for them in my life. They get in the way of playing the cello, of typing, of using any sort of utensil accurately.

So why, WHY, in the world did I spend 40 bucks getting a mani/pedi done for my best friends’ wedding? (No typo. They got married to each other.) FORTY DOLLARS. I could buy a weeks worth of groceries with that kind of green. I thought at the time, “Yes, I’m off of cello for two weeks. I’ll grow my nails, get them all done pretty and enjoy it.” Of course, two days after the wedding I had to fly home and start playing cello. Where did my $20 manicure go? Into the trash with the rest of the useless stuff. Does the need to look pretty go so far that we spend ridiculous amounts of money on a manicure that could chip five minutes after completion and be rendered completely useless?

Let’s make a comparison to a few other beauty routines that we, as women, suffer through and/or delight in.

1) Hair perming, trimming, dyeing, weaves, extensions, etc. etc. This costs money, time, and very often pain. But is it worth the money? I think so. These things last a long time. Six weeks in which to merrily flock around the city (or country) and show off some sexy locks.

2) Make-up. Yes, you have to put it on and take it off every day. But, you invest in a nice set of brushes, they’ll last half a year. You buy some good eyeliner and mascara, you get 4 to 6 months. It’s an investment that lasts.

3) Clothes. These last years. You rip it, you fix it. It’s too short? You go exchange it. Nothing matches? Go buy a counterpart.

4) Shoes. They get their own category. There is never anything wrong with buying shoes. Period. Consult Kelly. (OMG, shoooes!)

Nails, on the other hand, have the half life of a mosquitoes mating cycle. You spend nearly an hour getting them done and by the time you’re at the car, some random act has already chipped away one bit of costly nail polish from an unsuspecting digit’s nail. Two weeks later, you’re due back because the nails look like they’ve been through an all out beauty war.

If you get acrylics, you have your nails bulldozed and then attached to man-made chemicals that make you gag whilst having them applied. These, too, have a short lifespan.

All of this drivel declares that we women are blindly devoted to beauty. We judge people who aren’t as devoted. A few friends and I were once on the Metro in DC and we counted how many women did NOT have their toe nails done during our hour long ride into the heart of Virginia. The total out of about 60 women was this: 2. TWO. Only two women did not have their toenails done. One of whom was me. Whether professionally done or whether it was a home project, these women had all taken the time to do their nails. WOW. We are shallow.


But, that said, I sometimes hate the fact that my work keeps me from prettifying my nails. I really do. I will paint my nails and take the polish off for every gig I play. Do you KNOW how often that is? I play gigs almost once a week. How much nail polish remover have I inhaled because of this? Maybe that is what’s caused this downward spiral into nail hell…

Anywho, thoughts on my rambling? Anyone? Anyone?


Man is a wingless animal with two feet and flat nails. -Plato

4 responses to “Nails and the Modern Woman”

    • Isn’t it just? That’s why I chose it. People are nuts. I feel nuts sometimes thinking about this little, inane, inconsequential things.

      And he doesn’t need to get anything done. He flashes the claws and people do it for him.

  1. You know, I have a dichotomy here as well. Somedays I’ll bust out the make-up, straighten my hair and actually file my nails instead of clip them. Most days I throw my hair up in a clip and headband (darn bangs), put some sunscreen on (I’m pale and in the Sunshine State), shorts, a tee and slip on the chancletas (flip flops). The inner me is a diva, but the outer me is a lazy ass. Now my SISTER. Holy mother of god. She can take an hour to choose an outfit…but she’s so cute I can forgive her.

  2. *Laughs* I am the ~worst~ person to ask. I stay away from all forms of self-beautification. I feel like I’m being cooked like a chicken. I agree with you though long nails do get in the way of daily tasks. I keep mine short. I don’t do my toe nails either. It’d be quite a site if I did my toe nails instead of my nails. My normal shoe wear is just sneakers. Sneakers and socks.

    Yes, I am the very opposite of how most women are. I get that a lot.

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