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Fun print nails
Photo by Alissa Afonso

Why I Love to Get My Nails Done

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

One misty, humid morning in middle school, I remember stomping up the stairs on the yellow school bus that all students adore at 6:30 AM. Especially me, who missed my cup of coffee and was peeling my eyes open to stay awake among the little light from the sun that has not risen yet.

I briefly survey the seats of my classmate, who has her earphones in, resting her head against the condensation window of the bus. I rush toward the back and pull my backpack off my shoulders to rest it against the seat leg in front of me.

I poke Claire next to me, “Hey, good morning,” I yawn, sitting down. She pushes her dark curly hair behind her ear to take her right earphone out. “Morning,” she whispers, forming a soft smile with red lipstick hugging her lips. Rubbing my eyes to get residual crust from the inner corner of my eye, I glance back at my fingers and notice a discomfort in my thumbnail. Ouch. There was a crack in the corner of my nail. Since when did that happen? I flip my hand to check my other nails and stumble upon my right index finger to pick away the dirt quickly. I scrunch my nose. Gross. Gross.

Immediately I jerk my head up to Claire out of embarrassment from drawing attention to my messy hands, and I am wiping my nervous sweat from my forehead. She’s already fallen back asleep against the window. Her arms are wrapped around her legs that are propped up against the seat, and my eyes instantly go blind to the bright yellow color of her nails. No longer was I tired; that shine and shape had me thinking about my “needing” to get acrylic nails the entire ride to school.

I say “needing” because I got my nails done religiously every three weeks until the ninth grade. I used to think that if I did not get them done, it would make me less “glamorous,” or I would not look “put together” to go out in public. All of the “glamorous” girls in Mount Olive Middle School would get Gel Tips. You bet that you would have an easier time making friends in class because girls would be coming up to you and commenting, “OMG, I love your nails! Where did you get them done? Let me see them!” and then instantly, a conversation is started. And then immediately, you make a friend. And then immediately, you are accepted in “female” society.

For five years, I stopped getting them done because I realized that I should not be striving to achieve the expectations of my peers and that the only expectations I should be striving to achieve are within me. I learned a spoonful of lessons from encountering many injuries such as tearing my ACL, two concussions to experiencing life as a student-athlete at a Division II school, heartbreak, and falling in love. I cannot be a people-pleaser for the rest of my life unless I want to explore who I am and excel in myself academically, athletically, and socially.

I had to start asking myself, why is it that I want to get my hair done? Why do I want that shirt at the mall? This pair of shoes? I had to reclaim the definition of why I wanted to get these things done for me. I got all of these things done because they bring out a sense of confidence that is important to have in a professional, social and athletic environment. If you are confident, you will believe in yourself, and that faith will carry you to success in a race, a test, or a work presentation.

Coming into college, I realized that I speak with both verbal and non-verbal cues coming from a loud Italian family. In fact, in my Effective Speaking class at Bentley University (highly recommend for any Majors you are), during my first presentation, my professor commented that I speak a lot with my hands, which was surprising to me that it was evident to him over a Zoom screen. I immediately looked at my hands in embarrassment and felt that same feeling on the bus where I was overanalyzing my unpolished nails. Reflecting on that experience, I ask myself, what went wrong here? It’s that I did not have confidence. Knowing the consideration of getting my nails done once again, I needed to answer this question: why do I want to get my nails done? Why for me?

I get my nails done to express myself, that the most outrageous designs I get reflect my character and identity for others to understand me.

I no longer want that “duck nail” shape because everyone else got them at school; I now get the craziest colors and designs to accentuate my flare and uniqueness. I choose to get a different color done on each nail with a lightning bolt on my index finger to a smiley face on my thumb to show others my boldness and creativity through art. These nails enable me to walk with my shoulders back and raise my head high. I am colorful, loud, and confident from the tip of my nails to the roots where I was born and raised.

Whether it be the nails you get done or the way you part your hair in the morning, it is not “superficial” if it is what changes your mood from “good” to “great,” if it is what sets the tone to your day and enables you to check off all of your “to-do’s” in your agenda or checklist. If it is what reclaims your character, you making a difference in how you look will give back your strength mentally to take on obstacles and grant you the most top-notch confidence for success.

Hello! My name is Marissa, and I am a junior at Bentley, pursuing a degree in Marketing and a minor in Information Design and Corporate Communication. On-campus, I am also an athlete on the varsity swim and dive team, mostly swimming sprint freestyle. In my free time, I love to cook, travel, work out, write and spend time with friends.
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