Why I don’t fix my nails

Chipped nails
A lifestyle blogger knows that she’s going to receive criticism for what she puts out there. A blogger like me who regularly blogs elsewhere about the most controversial possible issues in life knows that I have to put on my thick skin armor and deal with other people’s reactions. But there is one thing people respond to over and over again that I find completely mystifying. My nails.

Whenever I post a craft tutorial that requires me to take pictures of my hands, somebody has something to say about my nails. They’re too long, I need to cut them. They’re too ragged, I need a manicure. And most of all, if my nail polish is chipped, people lose their minds. They insist, over and over again, that chipped nail polish is so distracting they can’t possibly pay attention to what I’m actually demonstrating.

I think this might be one of those things that is surprisingly common, but I never knew about it until I started working on the internet. Like the people who are really into latex, or act like chewing into a microphone is as uncouth as insulting your mother.

But I can’t help but think that there’s something else at play here. The way those commenters are so derisive – like I’m taking pictures of myself with my skirt tucked into my underwear – like they’re embarrassed for me – the way they comment as if having chipped nail polish undermines any credibility I might have as a crafter or blogger – I think it’s about being a woman.

A man who works with his hands and has the marks to show it is considered manly. A man with rough hands and callouses is pretty universally respected, if not thought of as sexy. I am not only engaged in crafting – covered in paint and glue and solvents and dyes everyday – but engaged in parenting and washing my hands every hour and washing my kid every other. If I made sure that my manicure was perfect before every picture I took – I’d never take any pictures.

At one of these conferences I go to regularly, I talked with a woman who was a tech reviewer. She had the same problem. And in her case having nails was a really helpful part of the job – you wouldn’t believe how many phones and other devices are designed so that women with nails can’t use them at all. Not crazy Guinness records nails, just run of the mill nails you see at any nail salon in every strip mall in America. So as a tech reviewer being able to point out – women with nails can’t use this – was actually a pretty cool and valuable insight. And yet when she posted pictures of her hands, commenters would go nuts about her nails.

I think that it’s another way that women’s bodies are up for grabs, less than, viewed as public territory, a woman’s beauty something she owes to the public. And I think that’s gross and crappy.

I also think it’s gross and crappy that someone feels they can criticize me for not spending enough time on my appearance when I’m teaching them how to do cool stuff.

When I go to these conferences and pitch my “brand,” (bleck.) I always tell them that I am about authenticity. I write a blog, and not a magazine or work for some big media conglomerate, because I like the personal nature of it. I don’t want to be glossy and pretend that I have the answers to everything. I don’t want to be a Pinterest mom. I don’t want to pretend that I’m perfect and shiny and can do all the things I do with one hand tied behind my back. To do all the things I do, somethings gotta give, and if the only thing that’s giving in a certain day is my manicure? I think somebody should be throwing me a parade.

In other words: it’s not just laziness. Every time you see a photo of chipped nails, know that I am taking a stand. Against people who think that women have to look a certain way in order to have something worth listening to, against an artificial version of perfection promoted by blogs, even against poor time management. My life is not going to be dedicated to how my nails look, or how my face looks, or even how my clothes look, (and I obviously love my clothes.) I get to enhance or ignore each of those things as it feeds my soul, it’s not something anyone owes you.