A young woman lazily lounging on the couch brings up her hands and arches them upwards, glancing at her naked nails. She had given herself a manicure yesterday, but it looks incomplete. Lost in thought, she wanders into her bedroom and opens the dresser drawer. Her eyes travel over the gleaming pots of nail-polish stacked inside. What will it be today?
Marquis d’ Mauve? Jewel of India? Chick Flick Cherry? Java Mauve? Pompeli Purple? After much deliberation, she reaches in and pulls out the pot of Malaga Wine. She deftly paints a quick stroke on her thumbnail and holds it out for a viewing. Satisfied with the result, she proceeds to cautiously layer each nail with a coat of deep pink essence.
The shades of a woman can be painted by various brush strokes, on assorted canvases, and with a myriad of colors. Her rainbow-colored dreams, sunset-induced romances, and inky-black fears are reflections of her life’s palette. Her ocean-blue serenity, fluorescent-yellow highs, and flushed-pink coyness are splashed on the constantly evolving canvas. Some days are bright, some days are dark, and some days are a confused mix of in-between. It is like hopping from one colored stone to another, hopping from one bucket of paint to another, hopping from one nail-polish color to another.
Women pay particular attention to their nails. It is not just about clipping them and keeping them clean. Despite the pristine beauty of nude nails, women are inclined to dress them up and color in the blanks. Figuring out what shade to paint them is the big question. (And it has been the big question ever since primary school, when the first unsteady experimentation with nail colors started at the giggling sleep-overs.) There are so many choices – pinks, reds, blues, greens. They could be glittery, or solid, or translucent. They could have white tips, or stripes, or patterns. How does she decide from the array of kaleidoscopic choices in front of her?
Maybe she will pick a glittering turquoise blue before the school dance with all her middle school girlfriends. Each bright brush stroke spotlights her starry innocence, her nervous shedding-of-the-protective-cocoon, her brilliant mind, her angelic laughs, her guiltless pleasures, her untainted childhood. Maybe she will pick a coral shell pink when she gets back to her freshman dorm room after the first day of college. Each subtle layer accentuates her rosy blushes, her unblemished purity, her happily-ever-after fairy-tales, her adolescent dreams, her Prince Charming fantasies, her virginal reflections. Maybe she will pick a shadowy satin black when she is getting ready for the rock concert with her new biker boyfriend. Each harsh coat exemplifies juvenile angst, unending agitation, burning questions, chipped desires, smothered anger, cynical conclusions. Maybe she will pick a classy white-tipped french before her job interview at the intimidating law firm. Each controlled stroke of white on the fingertips exhibits structured ideals, trimmed ideas, elegant demeanor, practiced smiles, delicate femininity. Maybe she will pick a wine-red burgundy before her fiancé picks her up for dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant. Each deep stroke personifies understated charm, provocative attraction, intense perception, womanly disposition, iridescent hopes.
It is tempting to say that the color of polished nails might just be a result of a whimsical choice… but since when have women deliberately chosen to accessorize themselves without a purpose, without a reason, or without intention? The choice of nail color is personal, significant, and largely dependent on the emotional gradient of the woman at that particular point in time. She might switch colors daily, weekly, or monthly. She might not change the color for an undefined amount of time, making it a staple in her collection. Or she just might decide to stay colorless for the time being.
No matter what shade she picks, she knows her nails will be a glossy reflection of her own feminine canvas. And that choice matters.