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Verena von Pfetten

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Chipped Nail Polish And Other Reasons I Hate Fashion

Posted: 05/22/08 05:03 PM ET

A confession: I wear chipped nail polish. Currently, my nails are a bruise-y shade of peacock blue, with one chip on my left-hand index finger. I painted them myself last night. Tomorrow, there will be more chips and by end-of-day Saturday, they will look like several gerbils spent the afternoon nibbling on my nails. Some time next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday, I will get fed up, self-remove the polish, and start all over again, probably with a color on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. Perhaps an orange-y pink. You never know.

I do not, however, paint my nails to have them chip, nor do I aid nature in the process. I don't bite my nails, I don't pick at them. I can barely manage to push my cuticles back when I paint them, let alone pay the art of chipping more attention than the art of painting.

All of this is a long way of saying that the fashion industry is absolutely absurd.

Today's New York Times Styles Section has a two-page article two pages too long on the new trend of "chipped nail polish."

Now there is another stylistic tic that would have been unthinkable on a proper lady in your Aunt Beatrice's day. Over the last few years -- since the era of the skull print scarf, let's say, or the (metaphorical) rise of the Olsen twins -- having streaked, chipped or just plain grotty nail polish no longer suggests drug addiction, manual labor or pure laziness. Like untied high-tops, thread-worn jeans and bedhead, it's now part of a deliberate look.

I am embarrassed for any and all women out there who go out of their way to purposely chip their nail polish (while simultaneously, I'm sure, juggling a Goyard bag and absurdly expensive and absurdly high heels). Do they not realize that there is something so gratingly insecure, so cloyingly pathetic about the strategic determination to look "un-done"?

I'm going to assume that I don't need to explain the sheer contradiction of it all.

Purposely chipped nail polish falls into the same category as bangs that are clearly too long and clearly annoying (a dead giveaway is when the person is constantly blinking and/or fiddling at their fringe), and yet worn anyway, because it looks "cool" and "rocker-chic". [See also: freshly washed "bed-head" and newly-dyed roots - a la Madonna.]

Ah, but apparently this manicurial affectation is not a sign of laziness and a decided inability to afford weekly (or any) manicures, but instead a sign of "professional fabulousness."

The article continues with: "'It's not easy on your nails when you're BlackBerrying all the time,' Ms. Diamond said." No, she's right. It's not! The keys are just so small and message far too important. But wait! There's more:

Sending the message that your life is much too complex, darling, to bother with maintaining a manicure is exactly the point, said Michelle Markowitz, an aspiring actress sporting artfully eroded blood-red nails.

"When I get my nails done, I like how it looks," she said. But she also likes less-than-perfect nails "because it shows you don't really care."

It shows you don't really care. Does it, Ms. Markowitz? But does not your admission of awareness not show exactly how much you do, in fact, care?

And here (finally) is my point: I don't care about chipped nail polish, and I don't care who wears it. I do, however, care when the fashion industry decides out of sheer desperation and lack of inspiration that it's own tail would be a tasty treat. Just because an Olsen does it, or because a Lower East Side hipster DJ wears it does not make it an aspirational trend.

The fashion industry seems to have gone so meta that they are now embracing parodies of themselves. Does no one remember Zoolander and Derelicte? Come on people, just because New York City has a lot of homeless people does not mean you should start dressing like them! Oh, wait. Too late.

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Fashion is a farce because fashion should involve some aspect of personality. If you care about what you wear, what you wear should be showing who you are, not showing how you wish to be seen. My nails are chipped because I actually, really and truly, Do. Not. Care. I rarely wash my hair and the last time I had a pedicure was, well, so long ago I don't remember.

But I do care that my under-eye circles are covered up, that my mascara is expertly and perfectly applied, and that my cheeks remain forever and unerringly artificially rosy. And if the other Olsen and Anna Wintour get bored over a non-existent lunch and decide that pimples are the new beauty marks and that bags are a sign of "professional fabulousness," well, I can promise you that I will not, ever, leave mine uncovered.

Because I care about people seeing a pimple on my face and I don't like to look tired. And while my nails may be chipped and my hair maybe dirty, I can promise you that I never look in the mirror and think that looks "cool." I do, however, look in the mirror and think, "That looks like me."

 

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