When it comes to getting noticed, you may think that one's clothing, hair, makeup, or tattoos may garner the most stares, but in my experience, it's being a woman with long nails that gets me the most questions. Like tattoo misconceptions, people who have long nails are also subject to judgement, ridicule or even just the sheer inability to go to the checkout counter without getting asked a million questions.
As someone who works with my hands as a metalsmith and jewelry designer, I always admired women who wore long nails but wasn't sure how it would work for me specifically. On one fateful trip to New York, my friend convinced me to get acrylic nails for the first time. I got poorly applied Louis Vuitton print tips that I ended up having to get repaired as soon as I got home, but I was hooked to the look.
Over time, the length of my nails has increased. My nails have gone from almond shape to stiletto to coffin and back to stiletto. They have been covered in spikes, rhinestones, dangling charms, and intricate hand-painted designs; but no matter the length, shape, or design, I find that people seem to have a lot of questions about my talons.
My nails are a form of artistic and creative self expression and while I am happy to be complimented on them every time I go through a drive-thru, there are a few things I could do without hearing.
1. "How do you function?"
This question definitely irks me. Like any body modification, having long nails is something that you have to get used to. It took me a few weeks to adjust but now when I don't have them (which is rare), I have a hard time doing simple tasks like texting without my long nails.
2. "I guess you don't type."
As previously mentioned, I am a jewelry designer and metalsmith and clearly, I am also a writer. All of those occupations require me to use my hands a lot so implying that I can't perform my job on my own is insulting whether or not that was the intention. I am not out here transcribing my articles for someone else to type and I am not out here barking orders to someone else to make my jewelry. In fact, here's a video of me hand-sawing a piece of jewelry for proof.
3. "Are those stiletto nails?"
Nail techs work hard to learn to do each and every nail shape flawlessly, so to assume there's only one nail shape because it's the one you hear most often discounts their craft.
4. "Where do you get your nails done?"
I have no problem giving credit to my nail artist (shoutout to Autumn!) but sometimes, when I am carrying six grocery bags or crossing the street, it's not a simple explanation for me to direct you her way. I dread going to the checkout counter when I am in a hurry for this reason.
5. "Do you do that yourself?"
I am good with my hands but nail artists perfect their craft for years to be as good as they are. Like any art form, it takes practice and patience. Most people you see with intricate hand-painted nail art and long shapely nails are not at home filing away on themselves.
6. "You could kill someone with those nails."
And I might if I hear this one more time.
7. "How much does it cost?"
Do you ask someone how much their tattoos cost? Or how much they paid for their clothes? I don't feel the need to tell a stranger how much I spend on my nails.
8. "I could never have nails like that."
How do you know you couldn't do something you've never tried before? The world is your oyster. Give long nails a chance!
9. "That's cute, for you."
Save the backhanded compliments and kiss my ass, instead.