I am female. 26 years old.
I am only just getting to grips with painting my nails. I'm finding it a joy-producing affair.
A girlfriend of mine always, always has beautifully shaped, long, gorgeous, feminine nails, and when they're painted, they're actually perfect. She doesn't get a micro dot wrong. Now, she (of course) doesn't seem to think quite so highly of them - why would she? They're her nails, and women are notoriously un-self-complimentary, if such a term exists. In any case, I'm pretty sure she doesn't look at her nails and think they're awful, but she doesn't rave on about them like I do. To her, they're probably pretty average, or just a normal part of her. Meanwhile, I'm their biggest fan.
To me, they're immaculate and beautiful.
My nails, on the other hand, leave a hell of a lot to be desired. When I was 14, I was approached on a school trip by a model scout who worked for Elite. Word got round my year at school, and the boy I was madly in love with, Laurence Kavanagh, joked that the only type of modelling I was going to do would be hand and foot modelling. 'If only he knew!', I tortured myself thinking, 'my hands and feet are disgusting'.
My nails are ridged, and I get through an inordinate number of those nail buffer things, but I only really wear out the side you need for rubbing ridges away. Why don't they manufacture individual ridge-removing files without all the shiny, glossy bits? They instruct you not to use them more than once every 4 weeks, but I need to use them every week to achieve smooth nails!
My nails are, and have always been, discoloured. They're not yellow exactly, but they're not that lovely white colour I see 99.9% of the female population sporting. Rather, they're kind of dull and at best, a translucent colour. Why is this? I don't smoke, and haven't done for a number of years. I get plenty of calcium. I've used those nail whitening pencils. I obsessively clean the dirt out from underneath my nails. One of my on-the-tube paranoid obsessive-compulsive fantasies is when I think other women are looking at my nails and thinking bad things about me.
My nails are quite large, not long and slender like my lovely friend's. When painted, they look a bit, well, weird. And yes, I do commit the deadly sin of filing in both directions. At least I'm filing! Seriously, it's huge progress.
And I won't even go there tonight about my toenails (except to say that I once ran a 14km race in Sydney and wore walking trainers for it, and one of my toes paid the price for 2 years, and also to say that I desperately want to wear peeptoe shoes but can't because I inherited my mum's second-toe-longer-than-the-big-toe-syndrome, and it just looks wrong).
On painting nails.
I don't know why, and I don't know how, but for some reason over the last month or so, I've painted my nails on hands and feet, and what's more miraculous, I've done it regularly and with a sense of pleasure!
It's remarkably true that what you practise you become. I'm practising painting bright colours - pink, pillarbox red, deep russet - onto my nails, and I'm getting better at it each time.
I'm also learning how to become more loving and tolerant of myself when it goes wrong, when it smudges, when I get varnish on my cuticles, round the edges, and so on. And I'm even feeling accepting of just how quickly they chip (I've yet to wear untarnished varnish for even 24 hours).
In short, I feel like I'm beginning to embrace this aspect of being a woman. I've only ever had one manicure in my life, and two pedicures. My mum gave me the money for one in July, but I frolicked it away on other things, so ashamed was I of getting my 'stumps' out.
One time, I was on the bus going to a morning group thing (long story) and my feet, barely dressed in tiny silvery thongy things, freaked me out to such a degree that I got off the bus and went home! I couldn't bear the thought of people thinking bad things about my feet, and have spent whole summers with them inside trainers.
One guy I was dating had a foot fetish. Let's just say it didn't last long.
I fully intend to continue with my newfound trend, and to keep up my heartfelt endeavour to accept myself when the body I'm housed in does its own annoying thing (blistering, chipping, etc). Can you tell I'm not quite there yet?
Thanks for reading!