I remember when false nails and nail art first came in, pretty much. At the end of the 90s I used to have acrylic nails with airbrush art on. I liked them, they were decorative and lots of fun to look at. I had a magnificent 'Vegas' set once with artwork of dice, playing cards, cocktail glasses etc on them.
But they were a bit, well, disabling. You can't pick your nose very easily, and it's harder to wipe when you've been to the loo. Picking up small things like coins or pins or earring backs is difficult, so is typing and texting. And once you've got the things, you have to commit to regular upkeep or they get uncomfortable. It's not like they are a blatantly sexual thing (and yes, they can make some sexual acts a bit more complicated as well) but does anyone else feel just a tiny bit uncomfortable about the vast number of nail bars around now, given that artificial nails do actually make your life a bit more difficult?
I would like to ask those women that use these very long and disabling nail extensions why
Do they do it to attract male attention ? Because every man I know a) wouldn't notice nails other than those that are dirty/ragged b) thinks those talon-like things are deeply horrible
So what is it for ? To look good in front of other women ? For themselves ? Why ?
I have quite long, gel nails. The only thing I find it a bit more difficult to do is pick up small things from the floor. I can live with that. I don't think they are 'disabling'.
Reason I get them done? Same reason as I get my hair highlighted. Because I think it looks nice.
In 1972, I took evening classes in both typing and dressmaking. For both courses, very long nails were banned - girls who wouldn't cut theirs were chucked off the course. This was, obviously, because long nails interfere with dexterity. There were no 'extensions' in those days; women just grew them (though we did have stick-on nails.)
While I'm fascinated by the whole business of fashion as sociology - both Kritiq and NCG have touched on this in their posts - I think we need to be cautious of elevating "Young people today, what do they look like?" to the level of gender politics. The issues are real, but for me the details of nail, heel and skirt length are incidental.
AnyFucker - I don't use extensions, but my nails grow easily. I don't take care of them so they're usually less than finger-end length. Now and again, though, I do nurture them and file them to a classic, long, almond shape. I do it because I can, it looks 'pretty' and, as SGB said, it's part of human nature (primate nature, even,) to fiddle around with one's appearance.
If you need to look at why we like long, shiny nails and hair: they're supposedly indicators of good health.
long acrylic nails would be incompatible with most of the sports i do.... i would hate to think that a desire for acrylic nails would contribute to less young women doing sport but it's probably part of the package (along with hair that takes too long and too much equipment to easily 'do' in the changing rooms)
Surely young women who want to do the sport would leave off the nails? It's not as though women must have these nails ... is it? My point, I guess, is that modern woman does have free choice here, whereas early competitive tennis players had to fight for permission to play in flexible clothing.
... don't get me started on competitive beach volleyball, though!!!
it's tough for a young woman/teen when all her friends are groomed in a particular way to 'miss out' because of swimming training or martial arts or whatever... generally it's easier for them to just let the sport go as it can seem not as important at that stage of life as 'fitting in' with peers.
I'm going to have to scour Facebook photos and the local teens, now! Maybe I'm just so old I've failed to notice a universal requirement for six-inch nails.
<sheepishly leaves thread>
Garlic, I am not allowed long nails false or otherwise in my job, but I do keep mine a nice shape to the end of my fingers and paint them pretty colours at the weekend
My issue isn't with "looking nice" but rendering yourself incapacitated for the sake of ..what exactly ?
Brilliant post KRITIQ and very interesting, too. But I still don't understand why, when women's independence (economically and intellectually from men) has increased over, say the last 25 years, the pressure for women to conform to these standards of grooming has increased rather than decreased. Why aren't we rejecting this form of social control as we are less dependent on others. I can only think it must be that:
a) the form of grooming we are conforming to is not as extreme as it used to be (ie no broken feet or internal organs deformed by corsetry) - although, with the advent of plastic surgery and breast implants, I'm not sure that this is true.
b) there wasn't less pressure to conform to a high standard of grooming 25 years ago, it's just that I am looking back through rose-tinted glasses and remembering it all wrong.
c) social control through forms of advertising and social media has become more draconian and sophisticated.
d) all of the above.
The rise of beauty as an industry has been incredible and I'm not sure how its happened or what I think!
In the 60s and 70s my mum would have done her nails, dyed her home, maybe trimmed bikini line, plucked eyebrows - now young women tend to outsource all those things at considerable cost. Why?
In 1988, aged 33, I had my hair cut & coloured every four weeks. Had legs waxed every four weeks. Did my own facials, manicures and pedicures but most of my friends 'had' them done. Several friends also spent fortunes on slimming and/or anti-cellulite and/or detox treatments. My best friend had regular colonic irrigation and went once a week to have an electric current shot through her thighs with long needles We all had sunbeds; I went every other day. I had a 'galvanic facelift' treatment that involved six weekly visits to a salon for a sort of electrified face pack. I wore baggy black clothes and Docs for work, but was privileged due to working in Fashion. All of my friends were expected to wear cute little business outfits with high heels. We all wore full makeup all the time. If you went to work without makeup, people would ask you what was wrong.
I still suspect women have more freedom of choice nowadays! I feel the social pressures to conform to a 'pornified' beauty ideal are stronger, but this is a slightly different issue. I think a separation of women's sexual 'value' from their work/professional value has been taking place. However, I do think this has always been confusing for young people: especially women. It often takes time & experience to develop all of one's identities.
Sorry for lazy language. Am tired.
It's crap. Yesterday I put on a pair of high heeled boots but had to take them off cos I decided I really couldn't be arsed in making myself uncomfortable just for fashion.
It's all just a huge faff.
Have skimmed, sorry.
I have always preferred to keep my own nails quite long, and actually really dislike when they are too short.
I think there is a personal preference thing there to a certain extent (although obv super-long nails get in the way).
I would say that there are men who feel more comfortable with longer nails, or want to keep them long eg one hand for guitar, and that is also quite socially unacceptable. Ditto a spot of nail varnish is a major statement.
I would prefer if everyone was able to experiment with personal adornment without this rigid gender divide.
Also agree that expectations of grooming levels have got out of hand. Had a brilliant example of enforcement of standards the other day. A friend noted that my nail varnish was chipped and that "it's better to have none at all than have it imperfect". My response was, well I only wear it sometimes, for me, when I feel like it, and I don't care if it's chipped (so ner)
Oh SGB longer nails are excellent for picking your nose, it is a lifelong hobby of mine
"My issue isn't with "looking nice" but rendering yourself incapacitated for the sake of ..what exactly ?"
I certainly don't feel at all incapacitated AnyFucker . As I said, really the only thing I can't do is pick up small objects very easily. I don't count that as being incapacitated. If I really felt they were a hindrance, I wouldn't have them - I don't have enough patience for unnecessary hindrances!
I do think the current shoe fashions are definitely disabling. I used to wince when watching The Apprentice and the men were in their comfy flat shoes, while the women were having to totter around in 4 inch heels. To me that does epitomise a blacklash against feminism.
Also, I'm pondering about how playing the beauty game affects women economically, as it seems beauty regimes that women can do at home cheaply aren't "good" enough, expensive salon treatments, whether for nails, hair or whatever are what women "need" to have. Men don't have this pressure, so in essence this is a stealth tax on women.
Yes, the shoes. Now you can walk into an ordinary shoe shop and find stuff that only fetish/stripper botiques would have sold in the past.
It makes me wonder what the heck strippers and fetish people are supposed to wear/fetishize now that those shoes are mainstream?
I was v happy when the men's shoes inspired trend for women began, I however all the ladies' brogues i have tried on so far have been too narrow and been generally crappier made than the men's version.
YoniTime (s&b diversion) - I've been wearing these for 12 years, all still going strong!
Leather Converse are v. comfy and office-acceptable, too
What KRITIQ said.
I had acrylic nails done once when I went to a ball. They did make it harder to do everyday tasks BUT were great for squeezing spots without bruising/breaking the skin. Handy but not worth it really
i would hate to think that a desire for acrylic nails would contribute to less young women doing sport but it's probably part of the package
Did you watch the Olympics?
Yes, but the point is - where are all the male Olympians who have wasted hours in the salon? Oh! Out on the track/pool/enjoying down time with friends - doing something more interesting than sitting in a salon spending money on finger nails. AND still getting more in sponsorship deals!!
The only men who have an interest in women doing this are those making money from it. Otherwise, we really don't care. Personally, I think they look silly and are a waste of money. But if someone wants to do it and it makes them happier, go right ahead.
Men do daft stuff too. I suppose one male equivalent might be the meat-heads in the gym, pushing weights, beefing up and 'roiding up, endangering their long-term health in the process. Idiotic, but that is their choice.
But please, don't pretend that men per se have any interest or desire for women to do this. If it is a societal pressure, then I would just point out that society consists of men and women, and that sheep-like women are inflicting this on themselves in the name of trendiness. And just so I am absolutely, one hundred per cent clear, I have nothing against women doing this. I do object to people saying that men as a group are somehow behind it. Same goes for the ankle-breaking shoes. Nobody that I work with wears them. Perhaps the women here are a bit more sensible.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.