You can tell when I don’t have my shit together by looking at my nails. The lacquer will be chipped off, the index fingernail is probably broken too and if I’m wearing acrylics they should have gotten a refill about a week ago. My nails give away that I have been putting myself on the bottom of my priority list. Which sadly, is not uncommon.
With a fresh manicure however, I feel like my life is completely figured out. Hand gestures get bigger and better too. I will generously extend my hand to shake yours and everyone else’s in the room, first physical contact between people is usually between hands.
It reminds me that most daily movements involve your hands too. Most work, most effort, most ideas come out through your hands – by drawing them out, writing them down, by sculpting them, building them. Significant actions are ultimately done with a hand, like the iconic and symbolic hand-action of pressing a button. Pressing the button of the elevator to go up, pressing the button of the subway doors to open, pressing the button for the bomb to go off. The click of a mouse. The switch of the light. Double tapping on that picture. It is the sight of a hand.
You see your own hand more often than you see your own face. The sight of your hands is how you visually experience your own presence, constantly.
What a manicure does for me has not that much to do with how others perceive me. More importantly it is about how I perceive myself. In my slouchiest sweatshirt I feel and move a little more elegant thanks to done nails. I look down at my hands while typing this and see my freshly painted cow-printed nails moving across the keyboard. Yes, that is definitely me. It feels good.
Aesthetics, silliness and cow-prints aside, self-care is often confused with self-indulgence. There is a certain shame and stigma attached to caring about, spending time on yourself or on appearances. That somehow if you are concerned with those things, you aren’t concerned with anything else. But taking care of yourself (or expressing your identity) us an act of self-love. It is about keeping your own glass filled. When my nails are done, it means I blocked some time and budget out for me.
It is part of being human to express and communicate your identity through clues on your appearance. Even through something as simple as a specific color on your nails. Honestly, we are not the prettiest creatures on this planet. We don’t have feathers or patterned fur (looking at you, cows) except for that tiny bit of hair on the top of our heads and under our armpits. Or in Ru Paul’s words; we’re all born naked, the rest is drag.
Before anything else this morning, when it was still dark outside, I took 15 minutes to paint my nails and another 5 to actually let them dry all the way through while not touching anything. Calling it a meditation would be exaggerated, but it was everything I think meditations should be. Quiet, calming, focussing one one single thing even slightly creative. When you feel good, you do good. That’s why manicures matter. For some that might be to have a shiny (or matte) layer of lacquer in the color of your current mood on the tips of your fingers.
Something completely unrelated…I couldn’t help myself in already squeezing in a preview of a design project I am beyond excited about. These rings! They are part of a small jewellery collection of affordable, high quality gold and silver pieces. You can have a peek at it via www.inflated.jewelry