In anticipation of tomorrow evening's Second Helpings FATINEE at SOMArts in San Francisco (the show is sold out but I will be heavily photo'ing it - don't worry) AND the public debut of my Tracy Turnbladesque homage I decided that roach nails were #MANDATORY.
Thanks to the interwebz and all the nail karma I've wracked up, Taylor of @sfpartynails (find her on Instagram immediately) got in touch and said she could make my roach dreams a reality!
My very first introduction to nail art was when I was living in Bangkok. After the sun sets (cuz ghurl it's won hottest city in the world for a while now) some enterprising Thai women set up an on-the-go nail art studio out on the sidewalk. They turn gorgeous nail jobs on a tv dinner tray (set up is fast and easy, ghurl) and you can get literally ANYTHING painted or glued on your nails in about 15 minutes. These nail queens are talented! And they're totally using nail art to gain class mobility (#getthatmoneygirl). I remember wondering why I hadn't seen this in the US.
And then some babes showed me Taylor's work on Instagram. She started out doing nails at bars and parties in the Bay and now works at a salon in the Temescal district in Oakland.
While Taylor and I were chopping it up in my kitchen we got to talking about the politics of nails.
I need to set the scene for you: 2 babes - me + Taylor - sitting in my kitchen nook.. Taylor is painting epic roaches with little pink hearts on my nails and we're analyzing the race, class and gender implications of nails. It was like my idea of the best femme afternoon ever.
I didn't grow up in high femme nail culture. Taylor did. But we both see nails as ways of broadcasting messages - some call this flagging. For me, brightly colored or cockroach-covered nails demand visibility, align me with a history of adornment commandeered by women of color, declare my undeniable femininity. When I grow my nails out they become claws that make me feel ferocious, independent and anything but harmless.
What do you do with your nails and what does it mean to you?
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.