I Hate Myself For Buying ThisHow One Bottle of Grey Nail Polish Has Made Me Too ImportantPamela Ribon

Let’s start with the nerd fact: I’m going to spell it “grey” instead of “gray” for the purposes of this essay, because I’m talking about fashion and I want to be fancy. And just so I can be extra fancy, I’m going to throw in this word spelled like this now: favourite.

As in: Grey nail polish is not my favourite.

I get a mani/pedi about three times a year. It’s just not cost-effective for a woman who is either typing furiously or chewing her cuticles at any given moment of the day. I do it when I know for certain people are going to see my toes. I also can’t go three minutes post manicure without chipping a nail. The one time I managed to make it all the way home without smearing, smudging, denting or shanking any of my twenty digits, Happy Nails immediately threw a party. “Tiếng hoan hô!” they shouted. And there was much rejoicing. Tears of celebration.

I’m not always used to the sight of polish on my fingers, so I find most of the colors out there make my hands look like I’m a child playing “Hey, I’m Just Like Mommy!”  All deep reds make me look like a lady who’s smoking Kools while doubling down on eleven.  Pinks somehow make my skin take on an eerie shimmery green. I tend to stay with a nice, safe wine color. But sometimes a girl wants a change.

People these days are doing some funky stuff to their nails.  Things we used to all agree were tacky. Grown-ups — full-on adults completely finished with puberty — are doing things to their nails meant to be done while trying to keep from falling asleep in Algebra II. Dots, tiger stripes, newsprint, the faces of the American Idol finalists — I’ve seen some craziness painted on a fingertip.

People: our nails aren’t trucks. Please stop having someone airbrush palm trees on them. PS: I don’t need to see your headshot nor your manuscript affixed to your pinkie.

That being said, I want to join a trend, I want to belong, I like taking risks and doing new things. I’m not afraid to do something different. My job isn’t being Lady GaGa, so I can’t paint the words “SKANK SUCKA” across my hands. So I went with grey nail polish.

(Note: not the author's hand)

I thought it would work as a transition color out of winter and into spring, as most of my wardrobe had taken on a color palate that can be accurately described as: “Sadness with a hint of oatmeal.” Maybe it would look like all the dreary was dripping out of me, saving my fingers for last with little kisses of periwinkle grey.

Nope.

It gave me ghost hands.  Corpse fingers.  I look like I was found floating dead in a bayou, three days old.  And while a very sexy hour-long mystery will emerge, all the hot characters will quickly forget that they only reason they’re in bed together is because their eyes met while averting my bloated, grey-nailed carcass in the opening scene.

But here’s the real problem: other people are extremely supportive of the grey nail polish.  They’re all like, “Ooh, that’s so pretty.”  And I’m going, “No, it’s not.”  And then they’re like, “It’s really pretty.”  They go a little overboard on how much they like it, which is how I know they know I know I’ve got the hands of a dead girl.

I think I look hypothermic, post-marathon, and in a pair of strappy sandals with stacked heels, it appears my tottering weight is crushing forward, cutting off valuable circulation to my toes.  Oh, and my toes.  My poor toes.  It looks like I’ve got marble statue feet.  Cold and lifeless.

So everybody’s being very rah-rah about my grey nails, like I’m some kind of trailblazer, so now I’ve got the weight of the ladyworld on my shoulders.  They need me to wear the grey nail polish so that someone has, so that they can say they know someone who’s done it, so that maybe they can feel free to try weird colors, too.  I’m like the first woman who wore a micro-mini, the first girl to try that knuckle-ring thing that makes wiping your chin or flashing some jazz hands impossible.  I’m now a direct descendant of that very first girl in a loincloth who was like, “Maybe I could put this turkey feather in my hair and it would look pretty.”

I’ve gone past the point of no return, you see. I’ve become a representative. A symbol.  No longer a woman, I am an experiment, an important dot in our nail polish time line.

I will wear this nail polish.  I will wear it in grey. I wear this nail polish for you.  I wear it because you keep on telling me it’s super-cute even though I know that can’t be true.  You need me to wear it so that you don’t have to.

I will do that for you, Internet stranger.  Because I care about our future.  But don’t hate me if I stay inside until it chips away.

Image credits: Shopstyle and Forever 21, Daily Makeover and Fright Catalog

Pamela Ribon writes for books and televisions and runs her nerdy conglomerate out of pamie.com. You can follow her on Twitter @pamelaribon

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  9. I love grey nail polish… on my fingers, not my toes. My sister and I have been obsessing over it all summer. My mom is not a fan though.

  10. Essie’s Playa del Platinum is a grey that I really like to use. I always get compliments on it. As a fellow pale girl, I had the same fear I would look ghostly and ill. This grey is almost the color of a Mac’s aluminum part. It has a blue-ish undertone in it and it looks really nice. Google images has a lot of pictures but it photographs slightly differently. And layers change the intensity of the color. I recommend it.

  11. Grey is my favourite colour/shade/thing. I love grey nail polish, it makes me feel ghostly and mysterious. ps. It is spelt grey. ALWAAAYS!

  12. This happened to me with a green nail polish I recently bought. Green is my favourite colour, and so I tried painting my nails green, but I immediately regretted it. I don’t know, it looked ugly and smelly. Green on your hands and feet? NO. Everyone loved the colour, but I couldn’t. I changed it the next day.

  13. I looove gray, excuse me, grey nail polish! Important indeed. :)

  14. Just today I was at the bank and the 50 year old teller looked at my gray nails and said, “Wow, what a unique colour!” I knew that what she was really thinking was, “Gray is the colour your nails turn when you die.” But you know what? I love it anyway. I don’t even care that my hands are also wrinkly and dry which probably just adds to the whole corpse-hands look. I’ve always loved gray and looking at it on my nails makes me happy.

  15. so i have been starting to wear grey nail polish because i have a creepy case of baby hands. my hands are the same size as a five year old a chubby 5 year old. and im 17. it makes my hands look more “grown up” in a way a little boney but in a high fashions sort of way? maybe im just crazy but im enjoying this trend.

  16. i have still not found the perfect grey!! and i have over 75 bottles of polish in my army right now…

  17. I have a small nail polish addiction and grey is actually one of the few colors I have yet to try. Might be my next purchase to see if i like it. One way to liven it up and make it cute for summer could be to do french manicure tips with a light pink instead of white. Just a thought! :)

  18. I’m half-and-half on the grey. Some girls pull it off beautifully. I tried it because the Kardashians were wearing it (ugh, I cannot believe I just admitted that on the internet, now my mom is going to find out and judge me), but I’m with you–I’m too pale and/or not cool enough to pull it off. Maybe a different shade would look better on us. Or maybe we should just let the Kardashians keep rocking it and we can paint our toesies fancy colors and hide them in shoes. It can be our little secret, like wearing mismatching argyle socks.

  19. I actually love the grey on you! I just bought the O.P.I. Pirates of the Caribbean Skull and Glossbones which is a light grey polish, and I have gotten SO many compliments with it on. I was unsure at first whether of not I liked it but after time it grew on me. ;-)

  20. I’ve tried out the grey (I’m not fancy, just British) nail varnish (OK, I’m a little fancy) too and definitely had that feeling of “I’m trendy, so it *must* be pretty” while wearing it. It’s not that it’s attractive, but I wanted to believe that it was. I felt fashion-y and borderline cool and I guess that’s how you really know you’re… not.

    I still like to think I didn’t look like a corpse, but when I choose nail varnish now, I definitely veer towards actual colours.