I can vividly remember my very first bottle of nail polish.
It was a barbie pink glitter that delighted me so much in it’s sparklyness that I insisted on attempting to paint my bunk bed with it. (Suffice to say it didn’t go very far.)
After that first whiff of polish and the pleasure of seeing my nails transform with a swipe of a brush, I was completely and utterly addicted.
I was the girl who spent evenings lacquering up my nails in my mums Chanel Rouge Noir only to be sent to the school uniform office the next day to scrub it off with their painfully cheap nail polish remover, leaving my poor fingernails as bleak and as boring as the day I was born.
Call it my style statement against the conformity of school uniform, or teenage rebellion, but having my nails adorned with colour was my thing, and I embraced it completely. Spending pocket money on the latest limited edition of Barry M’s and playing with nail art until I mastered the french flawlessly.
But as I’ve grown up and ruined a number of white sheets and cream carpets, (a girl never learns), the importance of my polished nails has remained.
You see to me, my nail colour isn’t just about having a great manicure, or about distracting onlookers gaze from my inherited chunky fingers, my nail polish is my war paint, and without it I feel naked to the world.
Equipped with a splash of colour depending on my mood; red for serious business, pink for fun and flirty occasions, blue for when I’m feeling broody and glitter for when I feel like life’s too short. Each colour has it’s own part to play in my style decisions.
Now that I’m older and wiser, (supposedly), life has got a little busy. And my religious regime of applying polish each evening just isn’t plausible. Not only do they not dry quick enough, but as chips and cracks only lead to me frustratingly picking it off during any solitary moment, I’ve found myself becoming a regular visitor to a manicurist.
At first it was just a treat, but here I’am almost a year later still enjoying this personal treat and not feeling one bit guilty.
I most definitely miss the calm therapeutic method of nail painting, but I don’t miss the hours I could easily spend deciding which colour better suited my mood or my outfit for the following day.
You may be thinking it’s a very vain way to be, but there is something far deeper in the psychology of this self representation than many of us realise.
I’m not the first woman to use make-up as a way of giving me that confidence to face the world. and I’m certainly not the last.
In times of conflict or great trauma we often need those small things that can lift us out of the darkness and makes us feel like ‘us’ again. And even the smallest act can help us defy the hard times and let us not be defined by them.
I’ll never forget reading about a woman in Syria, who’s daily routine of applying eyeliner would be the one thing that would save her from crying every time she heard bad news or saw devastation. Instead it was her cape to stay strong and carry on.
And how can anyone condemn or claim vanity at the incredible work that the Look Good Feel Better campaign does for improving self-confidence and wellbeing for those undergoing cancer treatment.
Whether it’s that red lippie, a bold liner or a little nail polish, sometimes make-up can play a far bigger role than we truly give it credit for.