Sunday, April 18, 2010


Of all the arbitrary, labor-intensive, and mildly humiliating things considered markers of attractiveness in women, few baffle me more than long fingernails.

I understand the appeal of clean and smooth fingernails, of course, and painting nails isn't too shocking. That's just another form of makeup, or a very mild body decoration.

No, what I don't get is the long nails. For my job, my sex life, typing, and frankly my life in general, I find it much more comfortable to have very short nails. I once tried on long fake nails, and it was a miserable experience; I had to manipulate small objects with the nails rather than my finger pads, and I found myself prone to "levering" the nails painfully off my nailbeds. (Then I tore and nearly removed my real fingernails when I tried to take the damn things off. I was dripping blood from a couple of fingers. SEXY GLAMOROUS BEAUTY.)

The really weird thing about long nails, too, is that men don't seem to care. Men often mention noticing a woman's body and clothing, often her makeup and perfume. I've never heard a guy comment on a woman's nails. The phrase "she was a slim 34DDD with silky blonde hair and nails so long she couldn't do her damn zipper" does not appear in Literotica stories. But somehow the nails still seem to be considered "sexy," sometimes even "slutty," and porn stars and sex-symbol models and actresses have ridiculous manicures.

What's "sexy" never seems to have much to do with what's good for sex, but in the case of nails the problem is particularly obvious. I got fingered once by a chick with long fingernails. OW.

At least the nails aren't mandatory. Short nails, like flats, are one of those beauty areas where you can generally get away with being comfortable and still look traditionally feminine. As long as they're clean, very few women and very few men are ever going to go "oh my god, your nails are so short, ewww!"

But this just makes it even more baffling that some women do go to the trouble of doing the nail thing. I don't understand it at all.


  1. People who have long nails learn to use them quite efficiently (I have observed). But, as to why they do it... Why women do anything to be pretty? Why they do that vajazzling thing, for example? Or wear jewlery, or make up? Or pierce various parts of the body? It makes them look pretty. (I guess.)

  2. Asp - I spose. (Although female beauty is not entirely voluntary; a woman who doesn't put at least a little femininity-effort into her hair and clothes can be excluded from a lot of social and career opportunities.) But the nails thing seems to be a particularly large sacrifice in functionality.

  3. No, female beauty is definitely not entirely voluntary, you're absolutely right about that. As for the sacrifice of functionality - well, my ex roomate has had long nails for years, and they don't get in the way at all. She even types better than me on her laptop, and the keys on a laptop keyboard are really densly spaced, you know? So, I think, she's learned to use them in a way that doesn't impede her functionality. The only thing that might be a problem is masturbation. I know my fingernails get in the way even when they're relatively short, because I can't bear to feel the fingernails on my clit at all. I'm sorry now that I never asked her how she manages...

  4. Well, I have long nails, so I'll try to help... I had them really short for years, and grew them out on a whim. I like them because I find they elongate the look of my naturally rather stubby hands, & make them look slimmer and more feminine. I also find that some people are mildly impressed by the "achievement" of having grown them out, so that's fun. I would imagine the trend first started as a way for women to signal upper-class status by making their hands decorative, thereby showing they don't need to use them for manual labor. Which makes them rather impractical if you actually DO need to use your hands for your work, not that that stops people trying.

    When I first grew them out I remember them getting in the way somewhat while masturbating, but now they don't, & I can't remember why or how they caused annoyance. Thus proving that I have learned to work around the natural handicap they create.

  5. Women handicapping themselves - even if only in ways which the handicapping effect can be largely mitigated with enough practice - has existed in many societies in many different eras. In general this is due to males who like to show off how rich they are by having a wife who obviously doesn't work because she puts a lot of effort into making herself appear to be incapable of working. (Whereas, among the poor, both spouses and often the older children had to have jobs if the family was to survive.)

    It wasn't until the post-Victorian era when the poor started imitating the idiotic "status signals" of the rich when they could. And it hasn't really gone away yet, though modern feminism has made the various "female self-handicapping" practices much less common.

  6. Lastnightsclothes - I guess I don't see the point of having to "work around" something you inflict on yourself... but then again, I just inflicted sixteen hours of lying in cold mud on myself. So I'm not one to throw stones.

    Not Me - That's part of the story. I do notice, however, that even upper-class men never seem to end up with the "I'm so rich I can afford to be useless" affectations.

  7. Weell...I have long nails because I'm too lazy to cut them! Both my mom and I can cut our nails down to nubbins and have a gorgeous set that people comment on within a few weeks. Since I find cutting my nails to be a particularly annoying chore (mostly due to how extremely right-handed I am) I do it as rarely as possible.

    So I've had long nails pretty much ever since my mom stopped cutting them when I was a kid. They never, ever get in my way and are actually very useful for opening packages, opening necklace clasps, scratching...Granted, I don't play guitar, though, so maybe that would be an issue.

    As for masturbating, well, it's never been a problem for me *shrugs* At this point, I don't even know if it's because I know how to keep my nails out of the way or if I just like how my nails feel (I've had long nails longer than I've been masturbating, so I never gave it a moment of conscious thought).


  8. We're humans: we're tool users. Nails just kind of get in the way.

  9. I generally have long nails. For many many years I was a nail biter btu I got tired of getting hang nails and I just got old enough that it seemed...gross. So, I found that if I kept my nails polished I didn't bite them as much. So, now I just let them grow, file them occasionally, and polish them when the modd strikes. swhen they get too long and start getting in the way, I trim them a bit. But, I can't stand to have uneven nails so if a couple break (generally 3 or more) I cut them all back to be even with the shortest nail.

    They don't really get in the way much, maybe because I don't let them get terribly long. They're currently about 1/4 inch and I don't tend to let them get lobnger than about 1/2 inch. I've never had a problem masturbating because of my nails. I've never had a guy say to me that they didn't like long nails but I did have one in aprticular that LOVED them. I'm sure that had/has some afect on me not cutting them.

    I think that growing them naturally is a lot easier to deal with than fake nails,. With natural nails, the4y grow gradually so you get used to them. With fake nails you go from noting to daggers and it's awkward, at best. The opposite is true, IMO, when you have long nails. Mine will be long until whenever it is they start breaking, then I'll cut them all off and it'll feel really weird for a few days.

  10. I don't especially get it either, although sometimes the false nails with symbols on look cool and I'm a sadist and if I have a partner willing to be scratched during sex, they would help. I can't grow my nails though. I tried for a while, when I was consciously looking for ways to test out my hyperfemme side, and it was a little dull, especially the varnishing, being unable to do anything active at all. I am an active person. I bought some "claws" ( so now when I want Evil Fingernails I can just put them on - then take them off. The rest of the time I cut as short as possible. Easier for a ton of things - masturbating, sex, guitar-playing. Although harder for separating stuck together pages.

  11. As a guy I don't really understand long nails. Maybe once in a while as a change, but not normally. I'm convinced that the most obviously inconvenient of women's daily-wear fashions are reinforced primarily by other women; long nails and high heels in particular, reinforced by female superiors in particular. Same way as with unhealthily skinny women; lots of them in fashion magazines like W, not too many in porn. My wife was always worrying about her clothes, but she dressed for her female department head not for me. She is perhaps an extreme example; I still remember the time we went out to dinner, with lots of intimations of sex afterward. She dressed up and looked really nice; I complimented the outfit many times. When we got home she immediately changed into baggy, worn, paint-stained sweats, then hinted she was ready for sex.

  12. I find that long/painted nails squick me. Just the way it is. And yes, it's a "I'm so rich I don't have to work" affectation. Men, though, have to DO things. Even though they be rich, standards of manliness "You're the man, you go kill it" endure.

  13. I'm just wondering if the typing errors in some of the above posts were caused by long nails hitting extra keys?

  14. Mousie00 - Yeah, I've noticed that women are usually harsher enforcers of these things. I have to admit that I've done the sweats thing too myself--mostly because I figure that once a guy has been my partner for a while he's not going to care that much? Maybe that's inconsiderate of me.

    Caramella - Okay, you made me laugh out loud.

  15. I love long nails precisely because they are something I do for myself and myself alone.

    I like the way that they look. I don't let them grow long enough to interfere with cooking/etc. -- don't need talons -- but I like a good third of an inch if I can manage it. Once they reach a nice length, I paint them sparkly colors like blue with red glitter, and I can look at them.

    They're also fun to drum against the table.

    Mostly, I can look at them. I have some lovely eye makeup shades, but unless I haunt a mirror all day long, I can't admire my own makeup. Nails are a pretty gift to myself, because I can actually SEE the darn things. Men don't care, they never have. Except once in a while, when a man notices that I'm wearing bright green nail polish with blue sparkles, because that's cooooool.

    It IS cool. But alas, I haven't been able to grow my nails out in ages, because I'm learning to play guitar. I don't really like the look of painted short nails. C'est la vie.

  16. Holly, you said you'd done the sweats thing yourself, and wondered if it was inconsiderate. It depends; did you approach your partner from the comfortable, home-only state you had been in all along, or did you dress down for your partner? Only the second is inconsiderate.

    My wife generally wears worn sweats to sleep in, so that was the most common dress state for sex, and there's nothing inconsiderate about it. It was only inconsiderate when she changed out of the outfit I'd been complimenting into the sweats when planning to have sex immediately after changing; it says "I'll dress up for other people but I can't be bothered for you."

  17. I know a woman who's a junior lawyer and a black belt martial artist. She struggled with nails, because it's unkind to your aikido partners to wear them long, but her superiors felt that short nails were unprofessional. She had to go for a compromise length that wasn't quite right for anything.

    My impression was that her superiors felt short nails->bitten nails->lack of self-confidence. I guess it is a test of self-control to be able to grow them out, but (being a martial artist and not a lawyer) I cut mine whenever I remember, which my dojo regards as a test of consideration for others.

    You can hurt yourself quite badly with your own toenail--I have the mark to prove it.

    Mary Kaye

  18. Holly -- well, it's a very mild inconvenience to have to work around, when it is an inconvenience at all. Having long hair is MUCH more of a pain in the ass. And there's the occasional task where the nails are helpful, like separating the pages of a book, as somebody mentioned earlier. (Although I think this wouldn't be the case with acrylic nails, which are much thicker and not as strong, hence wouldn't be good for precision tasks. Acrylic nails are really awful IMO, I don't know why so many people bother with them.)

    One thing I just remembered, that nobody has mentioned: Scratching your back/scalp/other itchy body part with long nails is just heavenly. They are nature's back scratcher.

  19. Nah, don't care about long nails on a woman. Sometimes I notice when my wife has painted her nails nicely and they set off her eyes or her outfit or something, but even that is frankly a gamble on her part if she's doing it for me.
    I figure she probably isn't. ;)

  20. I've been growing my nails long since i was about 13. Right now they are about 2" but i have had them as long as 3" for a few years when i was younger and a bit more out there with my appearance. I have grown accustomed to having long nails, having them pretty much all my life, they are a part of who I am and would feel naked without them.
    While going to school my nails certainly became a topic of discussion with all my friends and family. The girls all tried to grow long nails and a few might get to an inch or so before breaking them and giving up. My nails grew quickly and were as strong as acrylics and gave me the ability to have the length I desired. Of course all my friends were jealous of my long nails, which I kept well over an inch through high school.
    Over the years, my long nails have become something of a statement. I love to have them painted in wild designs and colors even getting them professionally airbrushed every now and then. Having 2" long fingernails, like I have now, is something that I consider a gift of female extravagance that I truly love. I adore when someone makes a comment about the length or style of my nails. I can't wait for the opportunity to show them off. My long nails have given more joy to me than I can explain.
    Every woman should have the chance to experience the sensation that wearing long fingernails gives to you. There are some girls that just don't like long nails, but for the rest of you i suggest giving them a try. I understand that work or other reasons might prohibit it, but in my opinion, having longer nails extending from the ends of your fingers will give you a different outlook on life. It sure has made me a believer and I will forever wear the long fingernails that I love.

  21. Personally, I feel exactly the opposite. I don't know how people can function with short nails. My nails are long (not crazy-long, but longish) and pretty strong, and I use them for just about everything. If I ever break one or have to cut it short, my hand is damn near useless until it grows back out.

    As was pointed out, they're fantastic for scratching your back, or your head, or your partner :) Fake nails don't even come close to the sensation.

    Honestly, I'm more confused by why men don't grow their nails long (actually, a lot of my guy friends do, gender expectations be damned) than by why women do.

    (As for masturbating - I dunno, I like indirect pressure, so it's never even been an issue.)

    1. Here, here! Nail polish bewilders me (would you gild a hammer?), but I USE my long nails. Scratching, opening cellophane-wrapped packages, any sort of cooking that requires a kneading motion.... the list goes on. I love my long nails!