• Howl Carter

Men shouldn't Wear Nail polish... (Video Included)

Updated: May 21, 2020

Men shouldn't wear nail polish...Why? This is my question to you all. I'm sure you all have your opinions and I'm all ears. You're going to start with..., "Men shouldn't wear nail polish because nail polish is for women, right?" Let's take a second and just think about the that. Nail polish is intended for fingernails... Am I right? As you read further and watch the video you'll figure out that at the end of the day it's about so much more than just nail polish...

Let's be honest...

Masculinity is so very fragile. I'll go ahead a say it. Growing up I wish this was something that I knew or was exposed to much earlier in life. The idea that a "real man" acts a certain way and possesses a very narrow and at times seemingly unattainable and dare I say unhealthy subset of characteristics is outdated. We've heard it time and time again... men are macho and strong, lack emotion and aren't nurturing. As a man I know these things are not mutually exclusive in existence yet they are constantly pounded in our psyche.

(photographed:My natural nails with gel polish)

As a gay man and a queer man (I use the term "queer" here as a way to identify my non-normative expression of gender as a cis-man that paints his nails) but also as a man in general. Yes, I too am susceptible to the pressures to present and express myself as a "man should" and in a masculine way. I am not exempt from these ideals simply because I identify as a gay man. But men are so nuanced; there is no one right way to be a man, no matter how much society pretends that there is. A straight man can paint his nails, too, right? You probably paused a little when answering that didn't you. But ask yourself, "Why shouldn't a man paint his nails?"... if your answer is somewhere in the realm of, "that's for girls"... then you my friend are likely a fan of gender policing. (Watch the video to learn more about gender policing.)

I sat down the other day and had an idea to record a DIY nail tutorial video. What I intended to be just another fun nail tutorial video turned into so much more. In the process of recording this video and thinking about my experience as a man that wears nail polish, I began to unearth so many moments in my life and memories from the past until now that have played a huge role in shaping the way I present myself to the world and exist within society. It made me think about what it means to be a man and why we even came to that conclusion in the first place.

(Blog continues below video... continue to read and enjoy the video.)

Not just another storytime or nail tutorial.

This video features personal stories about my experience as a"Man that wears nail polish".

Boyhood stories popped in my head, where I was reminded, "boys don't do that" or "stop acting like a girl"... they all relate to my adult experience as a man that wears nail polish and is proud of it. I remember feeling shame at first about even wanting to wear nail polish when I started a couple years back. I started first wearing darker colors like black (this felt safe). It wasn't too out there but I only did it during the weekend when hanging with friends. Come Friday night I would apply the polish and come Sunday night I would take it off before I had to go to work the next day. It sometimes felt like I had a secret life. Eventually I started wearing lighter colors like tan and gray (gray and tans became my favorite and still are). It was like clockwork every weekend, on and off. Until eventually I felt confident enough to wear nail polish around my family. I've always been the creative artsy kid in the family so maybe it didn't catch anyone off guard. To my surprise no one said a thing. This was a huge step for me, I remember I was so timid about it but tried to emote confidence.

Next to work, I started by painting one nail blue with glitter... it was my ring finger. I work with kids and this also caused me to be cautious. To my surprise no adult said anything but oh did the kids notice. But none of them found it too out of the ordinary. And then I got my first compliment. I remember someone saying"Oh, I love that color." That moment meant so much to me. That little nudge of acknowledgement and seeming acceptance made a world of change.

Since initially painting my nails, today I smile often just thinking about my growth. Not just because of my nails but because of such more more. What I've grown to know to be true is that gender expression and sexuality are different entities, but they can overlap in complex ways but they don't necessarily have to. I've grown to understand that I don't paint my fingernails simply because I'm gay or because I have a desire to be or identify as a woman. Though I am gay, I've never desired to be a woman. The desire doesn't stem from these things. We have to remind ourselves that things aren't so black and white... a gray area actually does exist. It's the non-existent box that people are pinned into because of their self expression and non-normative gender expression that doesn't exist in the first place. It goes beyond that rudimentary way of thinking.

In a lot of ways painting my nails forced me to grow personally and to be more confident in myself and my gender expression. It made me vigilant of assumptions that people can and will make based on my appearance. It's always interesting when a woman flirts with me and then notices my nails and retreats. It's little things like that remind me that it's bigger than nail polish, why does it seemingly an identicator signifying so much. Why does a man wearing nail polish hold so much meaning? Why shouldn't men wear nail polish? I'll leave you with that question to figure out on your own time... because this man will confidently continue to wear nail polish.

Let me know what you think of the video in the comments and keep the conversation going!

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