Sunday, March 25, 2007

Envy

Spring is here and you know what that means: nail care. Both manicure and pedicure. Especially pedicure. Gotta get those tootsies into sandal/open-toe condition. Mine are far, far, FAR from being ready.

But on the subject of nails, I've always hated the fact that my fingernails, well, they suck. They're thin, weak, and are prone to splitting. And, I must confess to occasionally biting mine. Yes, I do. Force of habit. Usually in the car when I'm bored and suddenly I find myself nibbling on a nail. Call it what you will - gross, nasty, unseemly - I KNOW. And yet, I can't help myself sometimes. I think I understand better the siren song of the thumb sucking for Nicholas - it's just a force of habit. Anyway, back to my nails.... I don't bite them to the quick. They actually look somewhat decent. Short, but clean. Even edge
s. See? Tell me you've seen worse from admitted nail-biters. They could be worse, right? They're not awful or anything. Just short. Right?

I find that having shorter nails is just more practical in my life. With all the knitting and crocheting I do, it's just better. But oh! How I do envy those lucky women who can grow long, pretty nails! I'm so envious of them! Twice in my life I've been successful in growing my nails long (and by long, I mean so that you can see them over the tips of my fingers when looking from the palm-side.) One summer in college when I was working as a building receptionist and had nothing better to do with my time than to be a desk jockey and pamper my nails. The other time was before my wedding. And even then, one or two broke right before and I had to get fake ones put one. And I pretty much hate fake nails. It's a rare acrylic (or any other form of artificial) nail that I think looks good. They all look fake to me. And fake doesn't do it for me - not when you can tell. And with nails, I can usually tell. But naturally long and manicured nails? Rock.

Even when I was pregnant I couldn't grow a decent fingernail to save my life. The whole "your nails and hair will grow when you're pregnant" thing? MYTH. At least when I came to me. My nails are so weak naturally that when they do get any sort of length going I can literally bend my nail so it lies flat against my fingertip. To the people with rigid fingernails this creeps them out to no end to see. The only way I can get my nails to grow is to apply 2-3 coats of some uber-hardening polish on them everyday and then walk around like I'm a hand model and essentially can't use my hands. At all. Because if I do something as routine as flush the toilet I'll rip a nail. Or it will split. And then the urge to just deal with it by biting it becomes overwhelming. Sick cycle.

I do my best to make peace with my skimpy, short fingernails. I no longer bother trying to grow them. I've learned that lesson. But each spring hope must really spring eternal because I do this every year: buy the newest "nail strengthener" offered and use it to see if I can maintain my normal life and grow a long fingernail despite it. It never works, of course, but I find myself doing it anyway. I did it again just last night. I bought some Sally Hansen polish that promises the ability to grow longer, stronger nails in no time at all and will eliminate the weak, split nail syndrome. I'm definitely drinking the Kool-Aid, it seems. If nothing else my nails look nicer with a shiny clear coat of polish on them. Always clear - never a color (or at least, never a DARK color) when one has short nails. I've never liked that look. Why draw attention to your short nails?? It boggles...

The other area of spring envy I have? Tans. As an Irish-German, I'm pale and freckled. Any pigment in my skin was long ago claimed by the freckles. There is nothing left over for a tan. The only color I get with sun exposure? RED. And fast. I burn in 15-20 minutes - no kidding. That kid who swam in the pool all summer with a t-shirt over her swimming suit? That was me. So people who have the ability to get a glorious golden summer glow are people I envy. Everyone loves a tan. No one (other than Gwyneth Paltrow, maybe) strives for Perfectly Pale. Tan is hot. Tan is sexy. Tan is unbelievably bad for your skin - hence: spray tans. People want a tan so badly they pay money to have tan-colored dye sprayed on their bodies. Or worse, pay money to lie in a tanning bed to get a "natural" tan faster and speed up the damage done to their skin. Look great now, pay later. That's my only solace: that my skin will age better than those poor souls who spent countless hours sunbathing and/or lying in tanning beds. Because otherwise? I'd be tan in a heartbeat. Instead, I'm all about the SPF 50.

I'm really only concerned with my legs. Oh how I hate my pale, pale legs. I don't need tinting anywhere else really except my legs. I've been known to buy the lotions that will tint your skin so you look like you have a tan. And for special occasions I'll use them - usually only on my legs. Because otherwise, where do you stop? I just need to tone down the blinding whiteness on my legs to more evenly match 30-some-odd years of exposure on my arms, which are marginally darker than my legs. If I get too dark (ha! me, dark? Like that would really ever happen) I think it looks weird. Not like me. Like me in bizarre clown makeup or something. Not natural. The natural me is Casper-White. It's what I'm used to, so anything else looks odd. Even in summer. But because my skin is SUPPOSED to be pale it is therefore the good sort of pale vs. the undesired pasty pale. There is a difference. Someone who is more naturally dark but doesn't see the light of day in months looks pasty. Me, I look just pale. There is a healthy pinkness to my pale. Not a yellowish-greenish undertone of a tanning bed junkie whose gone too long without a fix. But I'd be a big fat liar if I said I'd take my paleness over the ability to get a natural tan. Tan lines? What are those?? I'm only familiar with sunburn lines. And then it just fades back to pale - not a tan. I know people who go out and get a sunburn ON PURPOSE because it will then fade to a tan and they're on their way to building up a good "base". WHY CAN'T THAT BE ME?? I'd have "base" to spare if it were! But no, I get to enjoy the burn and then return to my pale. With maybe an extra freckle for my trouble.

So all you long-and-strong fingernail growers and natural tan havers, enjoy your blessings. I notice you. I see you out and about. You make it look so effortless! I'm envious of you. I like most everything about myself, but I covet your nails and tans (but fake nails and fake tans - I'm not talking to you. You can keep your fakeness. Even *I* could have long nails and a tan if I paid for them) Wanna trade? I have decent eyelashes and naturally thick and wavy/curly hair. If only it could be that simple: trade one element of yourself for that of another. Oh wait - people already do that! It's called plastic surgery.

I guess I'll just have to keep on hoping that one day the strengthening nail polish really will work.

Comments:
From one weak nailed, pale as a ghost woman to another, I feel your pain!
 
Right there with you! But, mistrust of fake tans aside, that Jergens lotion really works. Especially if you get the tint made for the pale honkeys like us. Just use it as you would lotion as you get out of the shower and its really gradual with no streaks. Worth a try... I love it.
As far as long nails go, I HATE them. I think they are totally gross and usually look like nasty dirt-collectors. I'd so much rather see clean short nails with clear or pale polish than those claws. Coming from someone with HARD and too-fast growing nails, too.
 
MP--

I hate to admit that I'm one of those women you envy, but I have to tell you what I envy...

People with good, clear skin. You would think at age 30 I wouldn't be worrying about acne, but lo and behold I still am...and I SWEAR it's worse now than when I was a teenager!! UGH!! So, I may not have the same envy you have, but I still have one. :)

Jen
 
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