Once upon a time I would pass by the beauty section of my local CVS, take in the sight of all those multicolored Essie bottles shining under the fluorescent light, and NOT feel compelled to buy any of them. Why would you need seven different shades of pink? I used to ask myself. Now I’m at the point where I know all the new colors by name.
I suppose it began when I took a part-time job at Ricky’s last summer. If you’re familiar with this particular chain of beauty supply stores, then you know that they are basically the coolest places to ever exist. There’s a wall of brightly colored wigs at the front of every Ricky’s and a room full of dildos in the back (carefully secluded by a very high-tech wall of beads — I can’t tell you how many times we had to shoo away little kids who saw the amount of pink going on beyond those beads and thought they were missing out on some kind of girl-friendly party palace, which I suppose they weren’t technically wrong about). And in between, there is the wall of nail polishes.
Look at this. If I weren’t already a sucker for things arranged by color, this would do it. After staring at this display for approximately twenty-five hours a week, is it any wonder that I succumbed to its charms?
It started innocuously enough. I don’t have a shade of red polish, I thought. And look at this blue – it looks like TARDIS blue, so clearly it is my duty as a Doctor Who fan to own it, right? I have a 40% discount while I work here, after all. Surely it can’t turn into a debilitating obsession that leaves me spending, at minimum, $20 a month on polishes I don’t need because they are shiny and make me feel like a fancy lady?
Smash cut to a year and a half later, and my bedroom table currently looks like this:
See all those little rectangular glass bottles of fun and delight? They are from Satan. Well, no, they’re actually from this amazing company called Julep, but clearly they were designed by Satan to torment me and take my money. At the beginning of every month I get two new ones sent right to my home through their Maven program, and every month I think, “Well, I’ve got all the polish I need now, I should probably skip next month.” And then at the end of every month they announce the new colors and they are sparkly and I must have them and I give them another $20. It’s a never-ending cycle, made even more frustratingly pleasant by how amicable and helpful their customer service has been to me. Damn you, cheerful women doing your jobs more than adequately! It would be so much easier on my wallet if I could denounce your company in a righteous rage and I can’t!
Still, that’s not so bad, right?
That’s not my whole collection. That’s just the stuff that won’t fit.
Fit where, you ask?
It gets worse. I’ve started painting my nails at least twice a week, partially combat the ever-looming threat of chipped polish, but mostly because I get bored quickly and need a new color to stare at after a few days. And I do stare — I get distracted by my own hands when talking to people. When I’m on the subway and I’m holding a railing, I surreptitiously check out all the commuters standing around me to see whether or not they’re looking at my nails. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m able to do those gorgeous patterns and designs like all the more reputable polish blogs can (and you all thought Mommy blogs were insufferable), but if my current style is any indication, it’s only a matter of time.
Apparently I’m not the only person who’s currently having this problem, According to Reuters, rising sales of nail polish have more-or-less become the new “lipstick index,” a term coined by Estee Lauder executives in the early 2000’s. Supposedly in times of economic trouble, women tend to gravitate towards purchasing smaller cosmetic items as a means of keeping up to date on current fashion trends. Of course, it can also be a way to console yourself about the amount of money you currently do not have for things like health insurance and college tuition. And look at how shiny! Isn’t it so comfortably distracting? Ford’s in his flivver and all’s well with the world!
Okay, sorry, I’m a dork who can’t resist an Aldous Huxley reference. Certainly I’m not trying to shame anyone for liking nail polish — I mean, no one but myself, because self-deprecation is basically my favorite past time. But there’s lots of great things about nail polish! As the PBS Idea Channel pointed out in a fairly recent Youtube video, Nail art can even be considered to be actual art in the same aesthetically pleasing way that high fashion is. And even if it weren’t, there’s just something so soothing about evenly applying the polish and then running your fingertips over it when it dries. I bet it’s like what people who paint models of planes or Warhammer figures, except it’s not exactly common practice to paint a Warhammer figure on your body and call it fashion. Still, with the way nail art has been evolving, eventually somebody is going to stick a couple of Craftworld Eldar soldiers on their thumbs*. Until then, I think I’m just going to stick to your basic shapes and sparkles, thanks.
If you’d like to sell your soul to Julep as well, however, you can use this referral link to sign up and I’ll get a whole bunch of points that I can put towards free boxes in the future. Please do. Momma needs her new colors.
*I had to google that. I know nothing about Warhammer. I thought it was a Dungeons and Dragons thing but there are spaceships in the image search and I am confused now.