Cheryl: All right, so manicures. How often do we get them?
Cheryl: Never? Why never?
Annemarie: So, not only do I think it's a waste of money, but it feels really strange to sit in a chair and have a person do your nails. It feels very classist, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself. Do I talk to them? Do I look the other way? Do I look at my phone? I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to do and it feels very strange. Also, it's, like, 20 bucks just to get your nails done.
Meredith: Can I counterpoint that? First of all, I will say there's a lot of caveats that I want to give before saying I'm pro-manicure, which is like, "Oh, manicure salons in New York, very awkward, lot of bad things going on!"
But as someone who doesn't enjoy a lot of beauty treatments or how awkward they feel, I really do enjoy the feeling of sitting down, giving my hands to a stranger, and not being able to use them on my phone, or just to distract myself in any way. I have some of my best thoughts when I'm getting a manicure.
The thing about it being classist is super-complicated, so I'm definitely not going to say that it doesn't feel that way, because I think it does. But when I'm getting a manicure, I'm thinking about how classist it feels, and my hands are not... I'm also thinking: This would still be this person's job if I wasn't here, and what does that mean?
Do I think manicures are bad? Kinda. Do I think our society is bad? Absolutely. But I like having my hands held by a stranger.
Julia: So I hate getting my nails done, but I get them done very regularly. I used to get them done weekly. Now I get them done every other week, because I have finally found a top coat that doesn't chip for two weeks (it's Caption).
I think getting my nails done is super boring — I actually hate the act of doing it. But I hate even more not having my nails done. I feel like I don’t look put-together if I don't have them done.
I also will say I've been getting them done in some capacity since I was in middle school. I have not had bare nails in like, oh my God... 15 years. So I feel more like myself with them done, and getting them done at a salon makes it more time-effective and also makes the polish last longer.
Cheryl: Have you ever tried to do them yourself?
Julia: I have, when I was younger, and now I’ll do it every once in a while. When the New York Times story came out, I was like, ‘Holy shit! I need to really look into where I'm going.’ During that time, when I was trying to research ethical salons, I tried to do it myself.
And I just can't. I don't have the dexterity, it doesn't look the same at all on my hands. It looks messy, and it doesn't last as long.
Meredith: If I do it myself, my right hand looks like I let a rude child do it.
Alanna: I never, ever have my nails done. I always have these short little awful stubs. And honestly, I kind of want to be the type of person who likes getting manicures! I’m actually a really terrible nail-biter and cuticle-picker. There have been, like, three times in my life that I've gone to a salon to get my nails done. And every time I've been so embarrassed and self-conscious.
Cheryl: Do you think painting your nails would prevent that, though? Has it in the past? And also, I just want to support you that, as a fellow nail-biter, nail salon workers — especially in New York — will totally judge you and make faces.
Alanna: I've literally had people just look at my nails and make that face, or turn to their friend and start saying something, which, you know, doesn’t feel great. But I will paint my nails from time to time. It stops me from biting for maybe two days, and then the second it starts to chip, that's just a new thing for me to do — peel it off in strips. Which is probably even worse, because it just litters the area under my desk.
Annemarie: I love peeling my nail polish off. That is sort of a gross thing to admit. But I just put it back on again after I peel it. I find the act of doing my own nails very calming. I do my hair at night — I put my hair up and then I do my nails, and it's a calming 30 minutes before bed where I'm not on my phone, not in front of a TV, and I'm just sort of relaxed and getting ready for bed.
Cheryl: Annemarie, you're definitely not opposed to having a regular manicure, because your signature is sort of your red nails. You're just opposed to going to a salon to do it.
Annemarie: Yes. It's not even the classist stuff that I mentioned initially, but it just seems like such a horrendous waste of money to me.