For the last few weeks I’ve gone into work with two of my fingernails painted: the first two on my left hand to be exact. Now I know what you’re wondering: why did you do it Connor, you beautiful ray of sunshine, you? Well, I can’t really tell you why I painted them, but let me dispel any assumptions you may have about it. I didn’t paint my nails because I’m transitioning to womanhood or making a remake of White Chicks and I didn’t paint them because I’m some gender queer radical looking to dismantle the heteronormative system.There was no political, economic, or social motivation behind the decision to paint two of my fingernails green; in fact, the only real reason I can think of for painting them is that I was bored at Nordstrom Rack and liked the color green.
My nails have gone relatively unnoticed at work, mostly because I’ve never drawn any attention to them. The only person who noticed them was the coworker who sits next to me, but she was more concerned that I had some weird fungus under my nails than the fact that they were painted. Thankfully, I have yet to be chastised for my decision and I don’t expect to be; I’m very grateful to be working for a company that doesn’t care about how I choose to present myself, but if they did I would just say “Bye Felisha” and disappear in a puff of glittery smoke.
A couple of years ago, I would have never ventured out in public with painted nails. In fact, when I was younger I did my best to be as socially inoffensive as possible. I never wanted to dress or act in a way that would make it seem like I was “asking for it”, which is arguably the most vile phrase on the planet besides “boys will be boys.” I spent a majority of my childhood being mercilessly teased and as a result, I conditioned myself to be invisible: I barely spoke in class, only surrounded myself with like minded people, and I never acted outside of social norms.
For whatever reason, I’ve done a complete 180. I no longer care about what people think of me and I’ve found that as long as you are kind and respectful of others that how you choose to present yourself is irrelevant. But something else I’ve learned, thanks to college and exposure to all different types of people, is that gender norms are v stupid. I mean how stupid is it that I have to say I don’t identify as female just because I have my fingernails painted? Why do we have to gender the most ridiculous things and then limit exploration between femininity and masculinity because being fluid is “socially taboo”? Why can’t we just accept people for the gender they choose to identify as and call it a fucking day?
Now, I’d like to state some somewhat controversial opinions, just to make it clear how I feel about things. If you’re a guy who has a problem with a girl wearing a tux or a guy wearing high heels, you’re an asshole who needs to get out of the house more. If you’re a girl with those same problems, you’re an idiotic anti-feminist. There’s no getting around this; how people choose to present themselves has absolutely NOTHING to do with you, so cut the shit and channel your discomfort with the world into painting or macrame or something.
To some people, outward expression is what makes them happy. There are a lot of people who take great pride in how they dress and it provides a great deal of happiness to them. Why should we make them feel uncomfortable? What right do we have to ruin someone’s day just because we’ve never seen someone walk down the street looking like them? What is quirky or unusual to one person is everyday to another and we have to continuously remind ourselves of that. And while I may have painted my nails solely because I’m easily bored and like green, I know there are people out there who, for whatever reason, are not fortunate enough to be able to do that. I know there are people out there who find great significance and value in something as small as painting their nails, so instead of tearing them down we should work towards building a world where they can feel comfortable enough to do so.