There was a time in my life when I would not wear open-toed shoes unless my toe nails were painted.
They had to be perfectly painted.
I thought my natural nails were ugly. Or maybe not ugly, but that they made me look unkempt.
“What would someone think of me, if they saw me with my natural nails,” I sometimes wondered. I imagined they would think I was poor, didn’t have my shit together, wasn’t classy or who knows what.
Maybe because at times I had been guilty of judging others based on their appearance.
I’m not talking about nasty, crusty, you need to clip those claw toe nails. I’m talking about cut toe nails that are clean and simply don’t have anything extra covering them up.
For some reason, I just could not wear my nails like that and feel okay unless I was in flip-flops on the way to the nail shop.
I thought that my natural body looked better covered up with something toxic. I thought that there was something wrong with me to be seen that way. You know as I was naturally.
I felt attached to painted toe nails in the way that some women feel naked without make-up and feel uncomfortable if they have to go out in public without their mask of colors on.
From an early age we receive messages from multiple places that we are not enough.
We are told that pretty girls sit like this, nice girls sit like that, but girls who sit like this, get this like that. (Do you guys remember that finger game?)
Pretty girls wear dresses.
Messages that say that in order to be feminine you must cloak yourself in things cover your natural beauty. We’re told that we’re framing our natural beauty – enhancing it. Making ourselves better.
“This highlighter will help to accentuate your lovely cheekbones,” the make-up artist at the Benefit Counter told me, sweeping a liquid (chemical) highlighter over my cheek.
She had me look into a mirror.
“See how great that looks,” she says from behind me as we both gaze at my highlighted cheekbones that look pretty much like my regular cheekbones with white sparkle on them.
“This just makes your cheekbones pop,” she tells me.
“I’ll take it,” I say, handing over my credit card.
I leave the store feeling beautiful because my cheekbones are highlighted.
But was I really any more beautiful than when I walked in. Probably not. But I felt that way.
One day I decided that I just wasn’t going to paint my nails. I wasn’t in the mood and I didn’t want to have someone else paint them, or I didn’t have time or something like that.
But it was hot and I wanted to wear sandals.
So I went out with my nails in their natural state. And then I did it again, and again, and again.
To the point where it’s more common for me to not have polish on my toes than to have polish on my toes.
One day I looked down and realized that my toes nails didn’t look bad. In fact, they’re really quite lovely.
So, why oh why, are we ladies always covering ourselves up?
Why do we feel that our natural just as we are selves aren’t enough?
I don’t know the answer to that question.
And, yes, sometimes I still think a good pedicure is fun. I still think painted nails look nice but I don’t think they’re better than my natural nails. They’re equally nice in their own way.
Just like make-up and lip gloss can be fun, but I don’t need them to feel beautiful.
What I’m learning is that I am enough. Me, bare toes nails and all.
I am beautiful just because I am me.
I am enough.
You are too!
Do you have anything that you felt naked without?