Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Case For Nail Art

I am an artist. 
I have an ability to express the way I see the world. 
I am also a scientist, and my study is life.
As an artist, I am unique: I am able to express how and what I see, and I am also able to explain why I see it the way I do through reason and logic. 
As a woman, I enjoy the transformation made possible through cosmetics and aesthetics.  But I am a force of nature; I don't present myself as a space to be filled.  I present myself as a set of ideas pre-formed but also capable of expanding and growing.
There is this perception of cosmetics, in Western and potentially other cultures, that their use and their end should be as a type of lightly decorated canvas.  In other words, a blank space with a pretty frame.  Makeup shouldn't be "too heavy"; "it should 'look natural'"; any additional materials - acrylics on the nails, or extensions for the hair - are, depending on your career or geographical proximity to New York or Los Angeles, vulgar or insane NOT to use.  Whether or not it's been thought through, this is a direct extension of the idea that femininity is supposed to be a presentation of a space to be filled.  That it should be an aesthetically pleasing void to be occupied and filled.  Let's just say it, it's supposed to be a pretty pussy. 
Cosmetics are supposed to enhance that space, or frame.  If you, as a woman, present your space as not a space, but as a preconceived (pun, intended) idea, or a force not open for negotiation, then your use of cosmetics is vulgar. 

Well, I paint.
I realized that a very limited audience would ever be exposed to my ideas and feelings and sensations about life, as I put them to canvas. 
I'd always admired, immediately, the airbrushed images I'd seen predominantly on nails of African-American women.  It's bold as fuck.  And often really cool and beautiful.
One day after painting, I saw paint residue on the blank canvas of my red acrylic nails.  I kept it.   I thought it'd make for a really awesome set of paintings, actually, if I blew up the images on my nails to a 3'x5' canvas in real paint. 
So I took a risk and started experimenting in nail art.  It would be an approximation of a painting, that I would love to see on my wall, only on my nails.  All ten of them.  And sometimes on my toes, too.  That way, I could present, without carrying around an inconvenient and enormous canvas, the artist I am, simply by handing someone my credit card, or holding a glass of wine, or sitting with my legs crossed and arms resting on my knees. 
My nails are, more often than not, filled.  They are a force of nature.  They say a lot, and they are purposely without a lot of room for someone else to imprint their thoughts or ideas on top of them.  I don't have light, almost imperceptibly pink polish on short nails going forth into the world.  I have a lot of design, color, shape, and striking imagery going forth into the world.  I stand for a lot of things.  As a woman, this makes me a Goddess.  It makes me a warrior.  It makes me, in many, *many* ways, more of "a man" than a lot of men I do and do not know.  That. is.  BEAUTIFUL. 
And if I feel like wearing make-up normally seen on men at 3am in nightclubs, during the day, just to go get groceries, then I do it.  I don't think twice about it.  (Or if I do think twice, I still do it.)  I am not here to be filled, except during the act of actual intercourse, and only then if I so choose, and irrespective of the gender of my partner/s.  I am not a walking orgasm for anyone to possibly arrive upon.  I am a full and complete human being, divine in nature, and that means I am complete and yet I am also room to grow.  - Please note that I did not say that I have room to grow.  I am room to grow.
I am fine with you calling my nails, my makeup, or my hair color vulgar, tacky, ghetto, ugly, or anything else that I would not describe it as being.  I am fine with it, because, your declarations and judgments of my beauty and expression are an indication of your acceptance of ideas and values that you have not thought through.  Because if you had, and if you had thought it right through to the end of its logical extension, you'd arrive at the same thing I did: truth.  And I accept a lot without thinking it through.  This is how we avoid going completely mental.  I am totally okay with you judging me, because, you arbitrarily chose not to think this through, so that your brain did not explode (figuratively speaking) from trying to conquer all realities.  I do not take it personally.  I am happy that you are exercising grace and generosity towards yourself, and patience for yourself, to permit your life to be easier.  I do the same. 
But I will absolutely continue to exercise my right to nail art.  Nail polish and nail decals are a human right.  They are the logical, physical manifestation of the thought, the idea, the value, that self-expression, or if you will, talking, is a human right.  In the same way that clean drinking and bathing water, medicine, political expression, and peace are also human rights.  I will continue to exercise my right to nail art, my neutral-to-wild choices for hair color, and my two-hour-plus eye makeup sessions. 
But I will now end this essay, because my nail polish is starting to literally get typed off.  And vanity trumps all things.