Beauty | April 14th, 2022
Breaking Double Standards in the Nail Industry
By: Charlesalyn Preston
For decades, long acrylic nails with extravagant designs have made considerable contributions to the nail culture. However, there has been an ongoing, egregious double standard when black women practice this style as opposed to a non-black woman.
According to The Guardian, Long nails can be traced back to ancient Egypt in 5000 BC. Archeologists discovered Egyptian mummies with gilled nails and henna-tinted fingertips, and other women around that time period stained their nails with henna.
Since then, black women such as Diana Ross, Donna Summers, and SWV’s Coko have set trends with their long nails displayed in the media. Especially women like Florence Griffith-Joyner, a three-time U.S Sprinter who set records in track and field and trends with her nails. Although Joyner was a great sprinter, her nails judged her harshly.
Refinery29 says, “Regardless of intention, French manicures and pastel colors signal white, middle-class, heteronormative beauty. Long, sculptured, airbrushed nails, on the other hand, are markers of blackness, sexual deviancy, and marginalized femininity”. Even after Joyner’s death, she was still criticized for her choice of nails, but now those same nails are celebrated when non-black women wear them.
However, recently, Black nail technicians have been on the rise, helping combat negative stereotypes about long nails. Local nail technician Jahnessa Williams, who has been a nail tech for over a year, expressed her passion for nails and making people happy with her creativity. During a recent interview, Williams said, “I think it is vital to have more black nail techs because, at most nail salons, they do not care about what you want. When you go to a nail tech, you will get the creativity, and you are going to get exactly what you want. Also, having a black nail tech, I feel like clients are more comfortable and enjoy themselves instead of just being silent the whole time.”
Another local nail tech Eryn Cheeley expressed her feeling about Black Women and how they are unfortunately judged for everything, including their choice in nails. She says, “I’m not shocked. Non-black people are always being praised for taking things black people did. However, black women need to be recognized more for their nail work and nail designs because celebrity nail techs are taking designs from black women. After all, the celebrity posted their nails and tagged their nail tech; however, the original creator of the set is not getting any recognition.”
The constant evolution of nail culture and what is acceptable on who has not gone unnoticed by black nail techs, and surprisingly non-black nail techs see the shift as well. Nail Technician Amaris Wright has noticed the length and artwork change over time and how Black women have been ridiculed for a trend they essentially started. She says, “I feel like the majority of people judging black women for their long nails is usually white women, though I have heard comments from other black women as well. As someone who loves long nails, I feel like people are only judging because they would not be able to deal with the nails themselves. I can agree that long nails only became a trend or popular, especially on social media, once non-black people began wearing them as well.”
Influencers have made long nails with creative designs that would typically be considered ghetto on Black women, trendy and in style. Fortunately, Some Black Women can see the shift and are fighting hard to ensure other minority women are not left out of the trend.
According to Allure, three young women who are nail techs had the idea to create an Instagram page dedicated to black nail art after they noticed how difficult it was to find nail art on black women.
The creators of this Instagram page felt that it was essential to create a space for black women to see different nail artwork on brown hands. “The triumvirate of nail enthusiasts takes a communal, collaborative approach to posting, which allows each woman to contribute from her creative wheelhouse. While their roles and duties for the account fluctuate, the joyful mission of
There is no question that black women have contributed a lifetime of creativity in nail art over time. Anyone can see from the beginning of time to the present year black women have used long nails, extravagant designs, and colors to express themselves. Unfortunately, they will always have to fight a little harder to receive the recognition they deserve, but their contributions will always be at the core of any new trend.