By Sevan Shamilian
I remember playing with shiny, lavender-colored, press-on nails. I would put it on along with Disney princess shoes that looked a little like glass slippers. I would even sometimes wear a Disney princess dress and put on some kids’ makeup to complete the look.
I felt like the prettiest girl in the world. I felt like I was the ultimate embodiment of a woman. I was shown that these additions to a girl’s body are what made them more womanly. As I got older, I noticed that when I wanted to essentially wear/do these same things, I was met with apprehension, especially from family.
I would sometimes want to go to the salon and get colorful nails or even for special occasions, get acrylics. I remember my mom telling me that nails like that would make teachers, my family, etc. not take me seriously. It confuses me then as it does now. I thought to myself, “how could something that is so expected of women be so analyzed and criticized?” Was it the length? The color? It was beyond me.
As I got older, I was scared to grow my nails or get acrylics. I knew that every time I did something new or walked in the house differently than I had left, I would be looked at, analyzed, and criticized. When I really started to get pretty long, acrylic nails I knew that I was going to hear it from my immediate family.
“This is not professional,” “Who would hire you with those nails,” “Who would take you seriously with those nails,” are some of the things I heard from my parents after getting my (long) acrylics. I would often go back and forth with myself, doubting myself and my decision.
Then I realized how many women in completely different fields of work and different walks of life get long, acrylic nails. It was not applicable to only one type of woman, to one type of field of work, to how professional you are.
It is not the nails that will deter others such as teachers, family, etc. It is purely based on the fact that we are women. We as women have always gotten the short end of the stick, but now it seems like there’s an unspoken criterion, used as an excuse. This excuse makes women feel more inadequate and feel as if it’s their fault for not succeeding, getting that job, or appealing to family members.
The truth is, life is not fair. If I were applying for a job and I could have the same credentials and professional experience as a man, I could dress in a suit like a man, and still statistically not be the runner-up for the opportunity. Thirty-percent less likely than that man, actually.
In short, the nails don’t really matter. Your hairstyle, hair type, or color does not matter. Your body size or shape does not matter. Unless you are physically unable to do the work or are physically harming others, it does not matter. The only reason why you were taught it matters is so that you and I as individuals will think it’s in our own hands and it’s a personal problem. When in actuality, the problem lies in those that think physical appearance or any sort of uniqueness is a determiner of your character.
Don’t even think about it, get those nails.
Sevan Shamilian is a writer and currently a Public Relations assistant for Visions of Possibilities. She is a first-generation Armenian-American, but before anything, is a woman that advocates and vocalizes for people, especially women.
Visions of Possibilities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit edutainment organization that produces projects and performances that challenge audiences to live lives of unlimited possibility. The organization is currently putting on “Breastival!”, to benefit Susan G Komen. For more information, visit Visionsofpossibilities.org