Nails are not, historically, a topic of wide intellectual discourse. I tried to think of intellectual topics to discourse on in this article, not because AfterEllen.com readers love sloppy sophistry but because it be irritating. But after further (two min max) consideration, I decided to err on the funny side of lesbian nail beds. In all seriousness, once you start pondering, “What’s in a nail?” there’s a surprising amount to contemplate. “Getting our nails done” is a funny phenomenon because it’s a female bonding ritual that transcends class, race, age, and socioeconomic status. Nail cultivation is a luxury, a status symbol, and a grooming ritual coveted by women of all size, sexuality, and political leaning. Including—wait for it—lesbians! Or to be PC, LGBTQ women.
Though lesbians are often written of as “butch” or uninterested in the finer aspects of femininity, we actually have more at stake in our nails than anyone. Whether you’re wifed up, in a relationship, DTF, or FA (forever alone), those talons need to be on point by having zero points. Raise your hand if you have a nail-related sex horror story. You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand. I won’t tell you details because some anecdotes should not be repeated, but there was blood involved and it was ghastly. Maybe the best lesbian nail storyline in history took place on — and it pains me to admit it — The L Word. Rather than narrate the scene, I’m going to take this piece up a notch and make it interactive.
I hope you enjoyed that snippet. Recently I started wondering: how does the modern faguette wear her nails? Obviously not long (although I’ll get to that), but have we evolved to nail polish or do we remain strong and silent with a nice square buff? To answer my burning questions and prune my mangy cuticles, I paid a visit to Polishbar, a lesbian owned non-toxic salon in Beverly Grove, near my Hollywood apartment. Heather, one half of the lesbian couple who own Polishbar, happily answers my questions. Heather is a dainty brunette with a dry sense of humor and serene aura, and I instantly want to befriend her. “We’ve had quite a few lesbians… and I can say that the majority do get polish even if they’re not always on the femme side. It’s usually a darker color and any shade of grey seems to be the norm, though there have been a few sparkly lesbian fingers exiting the building.” Sparkles are awesome. Can an expert like Heather tell a lesbian from her nails a la Shane? “Lesbians in relationships tend to have short nails as they should, but I can’t tell a lesbian from her nails… Obviously if a woman wants almond-shaped nails, I’m going to assume she’s straight.”
I’ve definitely seen femmes with long nails before, and they can’t all be pillow princesses. Case in point: Sada, on this season of Couples Therapy, has some motherfucking talons. How is girl-on-girl done with long nails? For that answer, I went to a pro: Sovereign Syre, an American pornographic actress whose clever mind and sharp tongue overshadow Soverign’s outrageously lush beauty. Sovereign and I know each other through Joshua Darling, my favorite lezbro. Sovereign informs me that girls with long nails can totally do each other. “I actually prefer acrylic nails because they’re thicker and blunter than real nails, so I’m less likely to suffer internal tears from them.The only time I was cut by nails, they were on a girl with naturals.” Ditto, dear. Ditto. “Granted the new stiletto nail style terrifies me. They signal to me on a biological level, ‘Hey, fuck your genitals.’” Stiletto style nails sound absolutely terrifying, please lesbians do not stiletto your talons, no matter how fake they are.
What about the bois, andros, butches, and ladyboys shuffling about Los Angeles? Do they keep those beds tight or just take a swiss army knife to their fingers before making sweet gay love? “A lot of androgynous women do tend to come in and get their nails taken care of and cleaned up but almost always leave with just a buff and no color. Even if there is no color involved, I think it’s important as a lesbian to make sure that nails are kept clean!!” True that. What about nail art, that vacuous trend sweeping the nation since 2012? Have lesbians started painting twee designs on their fingertips? According to Heather, there have been no lesbian nail art patrons, and I’ve never seen a lesbo with nail art. I decide to shatter the nail art glass ceiling, and rope in my androgynous friend/regular Polishbar patron Holly to try some lady gay-themed nail art.
Heather immediately vetoes my strap-on idea so I go for a more traditional gay theme: sparkles. And boobs. And AfterEllen. Ok, my theme is kinda all over the place. I come away with boobies on my pinkie, sparkle rainbows on my ring finger, unicorn horns on my middle finger, and AE scrawled across my pointers as a subtle homage to this site of sites, wonder of wonders, AfterEllen.com.
Whatcha think? I’m obsessed and think nail art might be my new passion. Something about having designs painstakingly applied to my fingernails just makes me feel better than everyone else, you know what I mean? Like I may not do pilates or drink smoothies but I have nail art so I still have my shit together. Holly swigs complimentary champagne and squirms. “I have extremely small fingernails,” Holly mumbles repeatedly, “I have really, really small fingernails.” “Shut up,” I respond soothingly, “and get something gay on your nails.” Holly has no ideas so our charming nail artist sporting immaculate liquid eyeliner suggests baby tuxedos on Holly’s thumbs. “That’s a good idea,” Holly comments, “because thumbnails are the largest fingernails and I have really small fingernails.”
L.A. is just a small, albeit glorious, portion of the lesbian community so I want to reach out to AE readers and find the truth. The truth about nails, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. So with great pleasure I introduce THE GREAT AFTERELLEN NAIL SURVEY. Take a couple minutes to answer a few questions about your nails and in a week I’ll announce the results of THE GREAT AFTERELLEN NAIL SURVEY. Let’s go!
(Scroll through the survey embedded below in order to answer all eight questions.)