When I was a little girl – way before there were nail salons on every corner -- I would watch my mother applying nail polish and long for the day when I would be “big” enough to have shiny red nails like Mom’s.
And when, at last, that time came I was working, and soon discovered that taking care of longer, shaped and polished nails was very high maintenance, and not at all practical for my lifestyle. In fact, I can’t recall ever wearing nail polish on a regular basis – or even having a manicure, except for a brief few years when I was working and would go with a friend from the office to get my nails “done” during lunch hour. But I could never go all the way – I’d go for the filing, shaping and cuticle trimming, and maybe a colorless undercoat, but no polish.
Mom continued her campaign to upgrade my nails, once telling me, during a lunch out, “You don’t have nice nails – your sister does, but you don’t.” But since most of my years of earning a living involved working on a keyboard (and yes, I’m far enough on “the other side of 50” to admit that, at first, it was a typewriter keyboard), keeping my nails shorter meant fewer “typos,” so I continued doing them myself, and it looked like it. Eventually, my mother tried another tactic, telling me that real women have their nails done.”
Since I was already 40+ years old, I was hurt by her comment. But when I held my hands up to a mirror, I had to agree with my mother’s assessment, my unpolished, unevenly shaped nails clearly said, “She does them herself.”
When acrylic nails were popular, my mother went all the way, and was among the earliest clients for acrylic nails -- that’s why hers always looked good. But the upkeep became very expensive, so when she came to live with me, I finally convinced her, at age 93, to have the acrylic nails removed.
I expected they would look pretty bad for a while, but when they all were finally removed, the “real” ones, miraculously, still looked good.
Mom is gone for over a year now, and as much as I would have liked to please her, I’m still living with my do-it-yourself manicure. But, as I look around at the younger, “busier” women of today (in the supermarket usually), I notice many of them without nail polish. And some are without lipstick, too.