There’s something about nail art that I deeply love. Last year, Tracie Egan Morrisey (love of my internet life) wrote a great piece on it for Jezebel as the "last bastion of female centric beauty." She spoke about how beauty, fashion, cooking, each those "stereotypically feminine" activities, becomes male-dominated the second they become commercially or creatively celebrated.
If you go on a fashion shoot, it is likely to be filled with a lot of men creating aspirational images for women-focused magazines. If you go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, there is likely to be a man leading the kitchen. But if you go to find the best nail technician, you can bet you’ll be getting a women. And I love that: decorative nail art is such a new phenomenon that it hasn’t yet been commercially manipulated into the folds of patriarchy.
Even though the industry has continued to grow at an astounding rate since she wrote the piece, it remains true, which is a relief, in a way. Women have stood up time after time in the past 12 months against the routine dismissal of something they enjoy, that has become a slightly bizarre phenomenon, and that’s cool.
I’m not saying that nail artistry in itself is the paradigm of feminism and empowerment and equality, but I do think the way the beauty industries are treated are symptomatic of a greater politic with regards to gender. Beauty therapists and technicians are still (in the UK, at least) not considered to be tradespeople, and I don’t think that is a coincidence when it is one of the few female-dominated industries. Cosmetic injections have pitiful due diligence and regulation; a practice which is, again, marketed at women. All these things are microcosms of a world that routinely and actively diminishes and disempowers what it classifies as feminine.
On top of that stuff, it isn’t "sexy" in the way that "sexy" is taught. It isn’t pouted lips or big eyes; it isn’t a beauty trend that sells well to men. Sometimes I can question why I choose to present myself the way I do, but I can be 100% sure that I am not attaching flowers to my nails to make myself eff-able. I know that it is something I do for myself, and maybe for other women, but nobody is gonna care as much as I do. And I love that.
Last summer, I was obsessed with sticking tiny little fimo pieces onto my hands and making tropical beach scenes and fruit bowls appear at the end of my fingers. It just hasn’t been the same this summer, guys. In the past year, nail art has saturated the world (or at least Instagram) and it’s lost its appeal a little.
What felt like an exciting way to spend half an hour (OK, kidding, it took forever to nail-glue all that shit on) has started to feel a bit tedious because I know someone else has done it, and probably done it better. Also, my rent has gone up and I have a lot less hours to kill at the moment. Which sucks, because the joy I felt every time I looked at my fingertips was incomparable to almost anything else.
Or at least it sucked UNTIL I FOUND MY NEW FAVOURITE, OH MY GOSH.
A while ago, OPI did a Minnie Mouse collaboration that was impossible to get my hands on (or rather, get on my hands). They had this top coat with little hearts in that looked like the cutest polish I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t have it and I have been thinking about it ever since. You can’t ship nail polishes to the UK from the US without customs freaking out, so most places won’t even bother. How much does that suck? (A lot.)
I know your hearts are bleeding for me right now and you’re thinking, But Olivia, you so strongly believe that nail-art is the last bastion of female beauty, what will you do? Fear not: my tragic story has taken a mega up-turn.
You might have noticed how many Korean products I’ve been hunting down recently, and one of the ones I got last week was Etude House’s Pink Prism polish from Kollection K. It’s a clear top coat with tiny little sparkles, bigger pink hexagons and little pink hearts. You paint it onto whatever you want (I just want to wear it on white at the moment, for maximum impact) and, suddenly, in two seconds, your hands look MEGA-kawaii.
One of the things I love about it is that it isn’t too dense, so your nails look crisp and cute rather than busy and crazy. I come off as busy and crazy without any help, thankyouverymuch, so I don’t need my nails accentuating it all.
You have quite a lot of flexibility with where you blob the bigger pieces. They stick evenly to the brush and you can sort of rub them off onto wherever you want on your nail. I like control over that stuff--does that even make sense?
As a base, I’ve used two coats of Revlon nail enamel in Snow In Megeve, which is such a fancy way of saying white that it actually made me laugh. The Rothschilds used to vacation in Megeve; why wouldn’t you use the namesake polish? Between that and the most feminist nail polish of all time, you’ll have hilariously cultural hands.
Anyway, Etude House has saved me, and probably feminism. Also, if you click through, which you obviously will because I have written a weird feminist advertorial for this nail polish, you will see IT IS ONLY $2.92. The one I’ve used here is Every Pink (number 3), but I am about to order all of the rest of them, obviously, and that will only come to like $24. I die. That’s cheaper than the polish at the beauty supply store down the road that takes 50 coats and peels off in 10 seconds.
Do you still do lots of nail art? Post pictures to re-inspire me if you do. Otherwise, what are your favourite easy alternatives to the laborious task of individually gluing gems all over your fingers? And what’s your favourite polish this summer? Is that even a question? I feel slightly delirious. Did any of this make sense?