Nails: a weapon if used correctly

By Aaron Elliot, Staff Reporter

Starting around four years ago, I started to get my nails done extremely long. I don’t mean just over the fingertip, I mean a whole extension of my phalanges with the longest I ever had them being two inches. My fingers are a bit stubby but oddly bony and of  course I would have old lady fingers to match my older chic physique.

To keep it youthful, I had them adorned with little crystals and small details of whatever story or message I was feeling. Expression was key, so my focuses and inspirations were what my nails displayed.

I paid more money getting my nails done on a regular basis than I did on gas at the time. I’m not complaining about nail prices, that is hard work and you should pay your artist well, but my pocketbook just can’t keep up with the trends.


Not only are they monetarily exhausting, they take up so much time. I would spend four hours in that nail parlor chair, wasting away as the sounds of filing and the fumes of acetone lingered. I swear, my head used to pound like crazy after waddling away from a nail appointment. You get a stiff hand and back, you start to feel a cramp and all because you want literal paintings on your index finger.

Art is gruesome, especially when your hand is the canvas. 

Why do we paint our nails? You could say it is just prettier than having to look at that dull fleshy pink color they are naturally, but it is something that most girls feel necessary in their everyday beauty regimen.

I grew up with both women who keep their fingernails kept and women who spend most days in the garden. Wearing no nails could possibly be perceived as unkept or not doing well. I know plenty of women who wouldn’t be caught dead with their “signature” french tip that every other mother is also swearing allegiance to, but I also know women who get incredible works of art sprawled across all ten fingers.

I remember this brief moment in the early 2000s when my sisters were obsessed with that cracked nail look. Oh gosh, spare me. It was so funny, I wanted to paint my nails like that so bad. Little gay boy dreams.

Things have changed so much, and fashions have changed just as they always do. Over the past five years we have seen an influx of interest in the beauty of expression through nail art. These long and lavish daggers covered in Swarovski crystals and chains with all sorts of mesmerizing bling must be credited to who made it mainstream.

Female and queer Black artists of all genres have brought nails to a different level. Nails have become no longer just an accessory to go with every outfit, but also a sign of prestige and a cultural weapon. 


Although most don’t think about it strategically, nails have become a status symbol in recent times. If you are a person who likes to pamper themselves with a manicure, tell me something; What is one of the first things you think about when you get a paycheck? Oh yes, a visit to the nail salon.

Getting your nails done is expensive, and to do it the way that beauty standards are set, you are going to be breaking the bank on a fresh set of claws. Details mean everything now, and that calls for really big talent. Craftsmanship and labor are poured onto the fronts of acrylics now, making transportable art. Brava, that is just sensational.

Not only are nails art that you take everywhere with you to essentially flaunt a status of prosperity and hard earned money, but they are also durable art and a tool. You can giggle at me calling them tools all you want, but as a person who inherited a terrible online shopping addiction from my mother, I deal with a lot of cardboard boxes that are sealed with tape.

I slice them open with my thumb nail and tear into it to see what goodies await me. Nails are instruments if used correctly. Dolly Parton came up with the opening of “Nine to Five” strumming her long angelic nails together, making a classic song that can be heard around the world. She also uses them in an episode of “Hannah Montana” to unlock a door and I think that camp is a wonderful conversation starter while you’re standing aimlessly at a party. 

Fingernails of a prominent nature usually aid in conversation to get the point of the speaker across faster and more dramaticized. They give emphasis where it lacks, and add a bit of flair.

When talking with a great deal of excitement, you have to be careful. Nails are a dangerous literal weapon also to be wielding: sharp and fragile. It’s so weird how some that I could easily crack and split could also take out an eyeball. I wish I knew how many faces I have left claw marks on just by talking with obnoxious arms.

I once was asked to hold a baby while wearing  a set of nails I could barely write with. That poor child, I held it out as if I was fearful of it, holding a firm grip, but loose enough to keep my nails from digging in.

I gave up quickly. I give it up to the incredible strong mothers who keep their nails looking right and their babies in check.  

People use nails as a motive for communication. Have you ever heard the dissatisfaction of a woman? Please don’t take this as bad in any way, but it sounds like nails slowly tapping a table top or desk. Intimidating, yet so girl boss in a good way.

I had a teacher who used to tap her fancy acrylics on her desk when we were being bad. Nothing is more startling than a mother with long nails telling you to be quiet with a single large clack of their nails. It instantly freezes you calling your attention to her. A nail sound can be powerful when conversing passionately. 

A good set of nails brings attention without any sound at all. Completely “Euphoria,” glitzy, Honey Boo-Boo craziness is what catches the eye. Sparkling light dancing off of your rhinestones, bringing the human eye right where you want it, at your hands to show off your latest thoughts on display.

There are no limits anymore. Nails can be anything you want, all you have to do is have the time and the money to achieve it. Most of all, nails exude confidence. They give a powerful energy that is shown through your fingers and the art you put upon them. Where do your fingers tap the line?  

Staff Writer Aaron Elliott can be reached at [email protected] and on instagram at aaron.elliott_. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois News follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.