Quantcast

When Outside Opens Up Again, My First Stop Is The Nail Salon

But not because my nails need to be done.

Her Voice

OK, so maybe I lied a teeny bit. By my usual standards, I do need to get my nails done along with everyone else I know who really misses being directed to "pick a color" or asked if we want "the spa or regular pedicure?" You know that meme with Arthur's little sister D.W. staring longingly at something off-camera? Well, I am D.W. and D.W. is me and what we are looking at are the nail salons with gates pulled down in front of them.

PBS

Of course, the Twitter jokes flew the moment that folks discovered nail and hair shops would close, with the assumption being that anyone who frequents those places would be "ugly" now that they can't access a professional. "It's gonna be all about personality now," read one tweet that I am paraphrasing. But honey, during this time when my routine is drastically different and I need to better manage all this time I have to overthink, I decided the last thing I need to be doing is labeling anything on my body as "ugly" based on my access to a shop. I am determined to be gentler with myself these days instead of nitpicking at little things.

We're still fine even without a professionally done mani, pedi, wax, or whatever, OK loves?

That said, I still plan to settle my behind in my nail tech's chair as soon as outside re-opens and I can safely do so. Hair and nail salons have long been places many Black women go for using glam as a self-care practice; for some (including me), those places were our introduction to it. We often speak of hair shops doubling as therapy offices but the nail salons offer their own reprieve from life's demands. After a long week of dealing with all the things that pilfer our energy bit by bit, it feels good to get somewhere, sit down, and let someone take care of us for once. Like with hair salons, most of us indeed have a horror nail story or two — but there's still nothing cooler than finally finding your nail person who can do exactly what you want without you having to clock their every move.

It's even better if you link with someone you can trust to freestyle your nails and send you out into the world looking like walking art for the next two weeks.

Marquaysa Battle

Certainly, not having my nails done isn't sadder or more important than the far greater problems occurring due to COVID-19 disrupting nearly everything about our lives. This is no effort to downplay them to uplift the sanctity of a full set. Instead, me not having access to the salon brings on sadness in various layers. It sucks to have one of the joys I'd made a part of my de-stress me-time routine stripped away from me. I've been getting my nails done professionally since I was in high school — the good ole days when acrylic sets were only $20. My mom would drop me at the mall (back when it was actually OK to do that, alright?) and I'd head straight to a spot called Exotic Nails to spend two hours or so with whoever could freak a French mani with a flower design on top — and a pedicure too if I had it to spare.

Although a teen, my life was often busy, stressful, and sometimes absolutely tumultuous. Exotic Nails was my happy pampering place where I didn't have to lift a finger or foot to do anything for anyone except to let the person in front of me file, paint, or massage. There was something luxurious about that moment that made me feel so renewed once it was over. That was my time to not have to do a single thing for anybody else. Time to exhale. Judging by the other faces that crowded up the spot — some of their heads nodding off as they got days worth of trouble, hard work, and putting other people first temporarily massaged out of their feet — it was theirs, too.

Over the years, my taste in nail designs has changed depending on the season I'm in or the job I have. But my appreciation for going to the nail shop remains.

Marquaysa Battle

Beyond my personal self-care woes, I'm concerned about the employees and shop owners battling being completely blown out of business and scrambling to apply for federal loan relief — many of which are Black and brown people who are already economically worse off than the white folks in the same industry. 71% of small business owners worry they may not be able to financially recover from the effects of the pandemic, according to LendingTree's survey of 1200 people. 47% have already acquired new debt in attempts to keep their business during this time. I look forward to hopefully patronizing the establishments near my home again and helping in any way that I can.

Marquaysa Battle

I also feel for other people who lean on their nail appointments for even more support than I do, like the members of the Long Nail Goddesses club in Newark, New Jersey — one of whom made getting her extremely long nails done a part of her road to recovery from drug addiction. "Instead of spending money on drugs," the unnamed woman shared in a 2018 Trulydocumentary published to YouTube. "I started spending money on getting my nails done. I pamper myself and this is what I love to do."

I also feel for the nail tech I had just recently settled with, Mandy, who was saving up to take her soon-to-be 10-year-old son on his first vacation in life and her first in 22 years. I wonder if they're safe, healthy, and how she's dealing with their (most likely) thwarted plans. Unfortunately, I didn't snag her number to shoot over a "How are you holding up?" text, but I do know that when outside opens up, if the nail shop is (prayerfully) even still in business by then, I'll be back in Mandy's chair so she can get these nails right, I can tip her well, and most importantly — I can relax again in one of my favorite happy places.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Shutterstock

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Getty Images

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less

SZA is no stranger to discussing her mental health struggles and her experiences with anxiety. In 2021, the “Good Days” singer tweeted about having “debilitating anxiety” that causes her to shield away from the public. Unfortunately, she still has those same struggles today and opened up about it during Community Voices 100th episode for Mental Health Awareness Month. While SZA enjoys making music, she’s not a fan of the spotlight, which may be surprising to many.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts