Saturday, March 9, 2013

In Which I Create A Kerfuffle

Caveat lector--this post has nothing to do with making anything. Except the aforementioned kerfuffle.

First things first--I am absolutely aware of my privilege. I'm a cis, hetero white man, of unexceptional girth and slightly more than average height. I have no scars, no birthmarks, no differences of ability which would draw the eye. In short, I'm playing the Game of Life on the lowest possible difficulty level, and damn lucky for it.

So. A few months ago (right before Hogswatch Christmas), I decided to start painting my fingernails. I've always wanted to--or, at least, since I was at least a preteen--but I've never had the courage to do it. I'm not prone to an action such as this simply for attention or to be "different". I simply realized that, for the first time in my life, I was comfortable enough with myself and my life to scratch a long-denied itch.

My beautiful wife bought me many varieties of polish, and I've been painting my nails ever since. A couple of people at work teased me a bit, of course, but out of love, and that's been that. Since then, I've enjoyed the meditative experience of the delicate work of applying polish to my nails, the experimentation involved in figuring out how to keep my nails looking good as long as possible, the attention I get from people about my color choices. It's been an altogether positive thing in my life.

A week ago, I shot a product video for work. I gave a nice little tour of a new circuit board, pointing out the various features with, naturally, my (beautifully blue nailed) fingers. I'll own I was curious how it would be received; I was anticipating a bit of insult slinging, along the lines of "What a fag" or "That chick's got really hairy arms". What I wasn't prepared for was anger.

There is no such thing as a grown up, there are just kids who get older and have kids of their own, and no one really knows what the hell is going on. And this guy painting his nails is a perfect example. Also, it's our right to judge people too, it's a perfectly natural thing to do, based on my observation of his nails, I can see that he is very insecure and probably makes a lot of bad choices in life, IF he actually did paint his nails for personal reasons. (Aliens8MyCows) 
NO DEAL! I tried not letting it bother me, but it REALLY DOES BOTHER ME THAT HE MADE A VIDEO WITH PAINTED NAILS. Same way it bothers me when people where pants below their butt, or how Afghan women wear those cloths around there face. Its somewhat offensive... (Marco LovesNambla)
To those who want to pretend that a man wearing nail polish is no big deal, why is his urge then so great that he wear it to work in a highly visible public setting. There is no way anyone could be so clueless as to not know how socially unaccepted that is so it has to be very intentional. Like a drama queen looking for trouble.
Stuff like that is a clear indication of mental issues. Same as guys wearing a thick black strap around the wrist.
Like Sandra Bullock should have done, just say no  (Dan Frederiksen)

I'm pretty amazed by that, truthfully.

I'm not really offended by it--if I'm not expecting blowback surrounding such a thing by the age of 34, I'd be a fool indeed--but, geez, do these people really think I didn't know that I was doing something outside the norm?

Anyway, it's been an interesting taste of what it's like to be outside of my privileged class. I can always take off the nail polish. It's not who I am, and it's not central to my sense of self or well-being. Were I, for example, transgender, I'd imagine the reaction would be much the same, and I doubt I (or anyone) could be so sanguine as I am about this.

Finally, I want to thank my coworkers for their support. The outpouring of genuine love from them only reiterates to me that, for perhaps the first time in my life, I've found a group of people that I truly fit in with. I'm proud to be a part of an organization of people who will go to the mat for something as silly as my right to wear nail polish--I can only imagine what they'd do for someone who is LGBT or of a minority suffering similar slander.


  1. WTF! I watched the video, noticed your nails, booted the board and continued to have fun with technology...

    Really glad I didn't read the comments. I am speechless at the reaction of some people. I would have never expected that at all.

    Keep painting your nails, keep making videos, and keep making cool stuff! You should try resistor color codes for your next video...

  2. The comments that people wrote are really odd. I color my hair. I do get someone every now and then that thinks that only hoodlums and other nefarious people have funky colored hair. However, I also get people who think, wow that dude must know his stuff. In my day job I get paid to thing outside the box (way outside). I enjoy the hair color, and it fun to break out from the status quo. It's my perspective that only a very small midset seem to be lacking the brain functions to not say anything negative or harassing and understand what is going on. Self expression. It's fun for me, and they must respect our own personal decision. I say go to town Mike! Have you tried ferrous nail polish yet?

    1. I tried the stuff that flows when exposed to a magnet, but I think I broke it by exposing it to too strong a magnet.

  3. Seeing your nails has a negligible effect on my impression of you personally, or your company. Seeing this post, and your co-workers' reaction to the vitriol? That wins me over. You guys rock :-)

  4. Dude! Paint circuit boards on your nails. That'd be awesome. If you wanted to go all-out, put some actual wires on there.

    Or just keep with pretty colours.

    I teach preschoolers how to speak English in Japan. One of the boys sometimes shows up with nail polish, and I always make sure to compliment him on it. Because men should be able to wear nail polish too.

  5. "...I'm playing the Game of Life on the lowest possible difficulty level, and damn lucky for it." <---THIS!! AWESOME!!
    keep doing what you're doing dude! I think you're setting a great example for how to be a well-adjusted, conscious, critically-thinking man in today's world. don't let the haters get you down. kudos!

  6. I think I'm going to paint my nails in solidarity. I used to do it when I was a teenager, but I got out of the habit in college. People gave me a hard time then, but I suspect it's worse now that we're past 30 and are "adults".

    1. So far, over four months, I've caught *zero* flak for it in meatspace. I'm not looking forward to the first time I do, of course, but I feel like it's a measure of my adulthood that I've learned that people's reaction to something like this is a reflection on *them*, not me.

  7. you should appeal to, etc for support and products. they've been creating and developing polish for men for years.

    i admire guys who have the desire to maintain their hands. no girl wants to have their hands held by someone with manky fingernails.

    you'd be welcome at my manicure nights any time.

  8. So I know you already poopoo'd the idea of having conductive fingernails at work, but seriously, a tiny battery or a cap you could charge, and some smt led's might be awesome. Just clear coat over the top before work.

  9. An RFID fingernail would be pretty slick.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I got called out to my CEO by a client for wearing 'too much jewelry'. Didn't know a watch, bracelet, wedding ring and a diamond pinky ring were too much but apparently it ruffled his feathers.

    There were a couple of Goth's in the office that wore black nail polish, no colors, and people didn't seem to get bent about that.

    People that tend to get the most upset are those that aren't capable of dealing with their own possibly confused sexuality so anyone doing something outside of their preconceived notion of what's gender appropriate will make them go on full tilt.

    If more people could embrace the differences instead of overreacting like a bunch of scared monkeys on high alert on the Serengeti we would progress faster instead of wasting our time of such nonsensical trivialities.

    For the record, back in my 30s I had a few manicures but only went with clear polish, I'm a chicken ;)

    FWIW, if something as banal as nail polish causes such an uproar among some then we as a species are definitely not ready to meet the aliens.

  12. I just wanted to let you know that your blog is brilliant! Thank you for putting all this effort into writing such rich, informative posts.
    Teacher Training Pakistan