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Hi, my name is Mish. M-I-S-H. I'm 24 years-old and I live in Vancouver, B.C. Last year, I graduated from SFU with a degree in Women Studies and Communications. I am a free lance writer and I also play in a band. I like to drink beer, tour, hang out with my friends and read. Everything in my life is great, except... I'm a chronic nail and skin biter.

(I've been watching too much Intervention.)

I emailed Hana last week after seeing the first edits of the photos of Pink Dollaz telling her that I wanted to do a nail experiment. Mocha, from Pink Dollaz, has the longest, most beautifully manicured nails and they look amazing (like the way facial tattoos, seven inch platforms or aliens look amazing to me). I have short, gnarled nails that look like they have been picked at by a flock of wood peckers and, because of my chronic hand chewing, I have never had long nails for more than a week or two. Once in grade nine I had long nails. There is even a picture of me with braces, a tank top and a peach cooler to prove it. And then I had long nails again in October of last year when I returned from New Jersey with a forced (but much appreciated) New Jersey manicure. Needless to say it did not last.

Having long nails is a signifier. A girl with long, French-tipped acrylic nails means a different thing than a girl with chewed up, bleeding stubs - on the surface. It could mean one girl has prom tomorrow and the other is trying to finish her graduate studies thesis or, it could just be a matter of aesthetic preference.

I decided I wanted to spend a week with Mocha-style nails. I wanted to see how it effected my mundane tasks, work and general appearance to strangers. So, I bought myself a set of press-on nails and glued up.

The first day sucked. I could barely use a lighter, untie my shoes or open beer cans. Getting used to my new plastic appendages was hard and I felt pretty feeble not being able to do anything without worrying about breaking a nail. My boyfriend laughed at me when I could not undo my bra clasp. I finally understood why it's impractical for straight men to have long nails - for the bra reason and the "finger banging".

I went to my night job as a server. My fellow waitresses noticed my french-tipped hands right away and commented. Maya even told me I looked like a "slut". Serving with an extra 3 cm of fake finger nail is not easy because your job is all hands. First off, when I had let Jenna apply the nails the night before, we were a few drinks deep so a bunch of them were glued haphazardly to my hands. My hands moved differently when I picked up cutlery, handed customers glasses of wine or tried to process their debit cards. I was conscious of my hands which was something I had never been before (unless it was covering up the chunks of skin missing from around my thumbs). I tried to do some roll-ups and one of the nails fell off into the napkin. I found it before it ended up on someones plate. I used a band aid to secure it back onto my finger. A real press-on patron would have remembered to bring nail glue in her purse. Rookie mistake.

When I got home from work, I had to clean all the gunk out from under my nails. It was disgusting and smelt like rotten dirt. I re-glued the band aid nail and decided that if I was going to keep these things on I better make them my own which meant ditching the French Tip look. I painted them dark brown.

The next day I showed Maya and she approved, "That's much better."

Life got easier after a few days. I learned how to use the pads of my fingers instead of the tips. I avoided roll-ups and clothes that had zippers. I learned how to scoop lip gloss out of the canister with my nail and re-apply with my pink finger. I developed nail tricks. Texting was a nightmare (I could only use my pinky) and I actually started calling people back. Fake nails turned out to be a good cure for my lack of communication. I couldn't pick up change or bobby pins or type without fucking up every couple keys. I tapped my fingers on every hard surface relishing the irritation it must have caused the people around me. I acted like a girl with nails because I was a girl with nails.

Animals in the wild develop new appendages to aid them in the quest for survival. Humans add on new features for the sake of beauty and force ourselves to keep going. The Bearded Dragon Lizard has three main tactics for fending off predators. First they hide on burnt wood to appear a part of the stump. Second they run on their hind legs to intimidate others. And thirdly, if all this fails, they blow out their beards and hiss. The hissing has purpose - they are showing off the red in their beards, a color that, in the wild, signifies that the creature has poisonos venom. Unfortunately these lizards couldn't kill if they tried. The nails made me feel like a Bearded Dragon Lizard. I looked put together - tapping my daggers, twirling my hair, smoking with lady-like grace - and my claws looked dangerous. I mean, one wrong move and in theory, I could take out an eye. But in practice, I had to get my boyfriend to help me untie my shoes. Maybe if I had spent a year in the nails, I could have grown into a whole new creature but I peeled the nails off after a few days and went back to my stubby, chewed-up self. After all, I'm not a woman who has truly evolved.

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  1. Charlotte charlotte says:

    I only started painting my nails as an adult and only because I wanted the chris angel look.

  2. Mish Mish says:


    Jesus Christ.

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