Some women like to keep their fingernails long (or buy artificial ones) so they can paint and decorate and make a fashion statement with them. I have never understood this impulse. It seems so impractical to have long nails, especially manicured/painted nails that are expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

I tried using nail polish for a short time back when I was in high school, but it made my nails feel suffocated and I was not interested in spending the time to continually maintain the polish so that it looked neat. (I think ragged nails and chipped nail polish look atrocious.) I also find that as my nails grow out, I start to have trouble typing, I regularly pinch and scratch myself, and sooner or later one of them bends backward (or tears off) and really makes me yell.

Also, because I have, as I’ve mentioned, unruly cuticles, I am always messing with my nails and they are almost never all the same length at the same time. I’m going through a rare calm spell in nail maintenance right now, though, so here’s how they stand today:

But I tell you what, I’m having a heck of a time typing this post with all that keratin clattering around on the keyboard! And I bent one nail back tonight, although fortunately it did not break. I sorta like the look I’ve got going, but the functionality is not there and I’m starting to get frustrated, so it won’t take much provocation to make me clip them all down again.

Like high heels, short skirts and long hair, long fingernails are a standard of “feminine” beauty that actually creates more of an impediment than an advantage. When you have a fresh, expensive manicure, what kinds of activities will you be willing to do with your hands? Wash dishes? Garden? Change a tire on your car if you get a flat? Can you run to catch a bus in heels? Climb a ladder in a miniskirt? Leave the house for work 15 minutes after washing your waist-length hair? These things prevent us from freely using the full range of our bodies and thereby keep us away from many activities. Making ourselves less functional in order to be more attractive is a devil’s bargain.

I do not believe in handicapping myself in order to meet an artificial standard. I know the world doesn’t really approve of women who have short hair and short nails (and who don’t wear short skirts or high heels), but that’s the look that works best for me and allows me to do my best work, so I’m keeping it.



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