Nailed

Nails

Writer Jeremy Drysdale doesn’t discriminate against people on grounds of face, body, skin or hair colour. But chipped, uneven nails frequently prove a dealbreaker

Once we get to know someone, we form an opinion about them based on their personality. Are they kind? Do they make us laugh? Would we want to do business with them, have sex with them or become their friend? But of course before we get to know them, our judgements are more superficial. We look at eyes and clothes, listen to their voice and react to their mannerisms. Or at least, you do. I have a slightly different mechanism: I look at their hands and nails.

 

If you Google ‘nail fetish’, you’ll find someone who isn’t me. A nail fetishist is generally someone stimulated by very long fingernails, or nails painted in a certain colour – normally red. Some get off on long nails scratching skin, or holding a cigarette, or even dipped in grease. I am not one of those people. But when I meet someone new, I do immediately check out their fingernails, and can find myself instantly attracted or repulsed.

 

I don’t know where this weirdness comes from. My mother, as far as I can recall, didn’t have great nails. Nails weren’t discussed or important in my formative years, but somehow, along the way, they became important to me. How important? Well, I’m happily married to a woman with good nails. So far, so reasonable. But before that, I couldn’t have sex with anyone who bit their nails. Ditto those who had nails of irregular length, or chipped nail varnish. Even now, Megan Fox (clubbed thumbs), Britney Spears (nailbiter), Gordon Brown (torn nails), Eva Mendes (nails so small as to be almost invisible – see also James McEvoy) would fail my ‘fuck or friendship’ test. Which is of course very much their loss.

 

Is all this really so different from more common prejudices about ‘acceptable body types’? I have a girlfriend who wouldn’t sleep with ‘a fat guy’ and a male friend who ‘only finds blondes attractive’. These value judgements aren’t nice, but isn’t everyone guilty of them to some extent? My criteria are just a bit less…obvious.

 

So, what do I find attractive in nails? Long nail beds, even length and a very shiny topcoat will do it for me, every time. Dark colours, not light. And please; no ‘one nail a different colour’, because that’s just never going to work. Guys – I’m not going to find your hands arousing, but if you want to get along with me, then your nails will need to conform. (You don’t need to worry about the shiny topcoat.)

 

I can tell you about the nails of everyone I know; how long, how clean, what shape. I find certain women attractive, even if they’re not conventionally judged as such, simply because they have fantastic hands and beautiful nails. I love travelling on the tube because there are hands everywhere, and I don’t like winter because so many people wear gloves. I have no real interest in shopping with my wife, but if she goes looking for a new varnish I can spend an hour helping her choose – although she never does, because she tolerates my preoccupation, rather than indulging it.

 

If I meet someone with bitten nails, I can’t look at their hands and they MUST NOT touch me under any circumstances. If it’s a business meeting, then our business is probably over. Naturally, I don’t have any close friends with bitten nails. If you have good nails, then you’re probably clean and well groomed. If they’re bitten, then you clearly don’t value personal grooming (so who knows what’s going on under the clothes?).

 

Arbitrary? Of course. Unfair nonsense? Probably. My loss? Almost certainly, but I’ll live with it. And if you don’t like it, well, let’s just shake hands and move on. But know I’ll still be looking down and judging yours.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Jon Jordan / Flickr Creative Commons

 

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  • Kath GTL

    This is really honest and interesting. I look at people’s teeth; I can still befriend them if they have awful teeth (which is good of me, I know), but I will judge them. Get a brush and some Colgate ffs, how difficult is it?

  • Fi Nightingale

    We can never be friends, Drysdale. I am a nibbler *hangs head*.

  • Sali Hughes

    I’m really interested in this. I’m funny about teeth, myself.

    • Fi Nightingale

      I once went out with someone with lovely teeth. Until he lifted up his top lip and they were all GREEN at the base near the gums, because he never cleaned them. They didn’t look yellow or anything either. Urgh.

      • Sali Hughes

        Nooooooooo. I could not deal with this.

        • Fi Nightingale

          We didn’t last long after this discovery. Kissing suddenly lost its joy.

      • Kath GTL

        ARGH. Deal breaker for me.

      • Igg

        SCREAM

      • Gabi Jones

        GIPPPPPPPPP

  • Fi Nightingale

    We can never be friends, Drysdale. I am a nibbler *hangs head*

  • Sali Hughes

    I am fine with nails, bad with dodgy teeth. It puts me off people, so I understand the sentiment.

  • Fi Nightingale

    And I agree that it’s no different to any other preference where sexual partners or friends are concerned.

  • Esme

    Skinny legs on men make me a little bit sick in the mouth. Just thinking about it is turning me off my breakfast.

    • Fi Nightingale

      I don’t like skinny men, full stop.

      • Ali Nightingale

        Me neither. That old chestnut ‘no man with an arse smaller than mine’ remains true. Made my pickings slim though, the bigger my bum grew year by year (still growing).

  • hepburn

    I actually find it quite sexy when someone is really into a part of the body…*checks nails

    • Sali Hughes

      I know exactly what you mean.

      • Fi Nightingale

        I like interesting teeth. Billy Corgan, Bowie before he had them fixed…

        • hepburn

          A bit of kink makes the world go round 😉

  • Nicola Rossall

    You see I’m funny about really long unkempt nails, especially on men. Make me feel a bit weird. I also don’t like men with really little podgy hands which is purely irrational.

    • bigbamboo

      Yes, men’s mails should be short and well-kept. Irregular nails are WRONG on either gender…

  • Igg

    Eyebrows. Can’t stand a scruffy eyebrow and monobrows make me feel ill.

  • Jade

    Horribly judgemental and outdated but men with long hair (like, in a ponytail long). Can’t deal with it.

    • Fi Nightingale

      I don’t mind long hair, so long as it’s deliberately long and not just someone who never bothers having it cut. I absolutely could not go out with anyone with a ponytail though.

    • Gabi Jones

      I love long hair on men. Especially when they wear it up in a bun (not like a sock bun, but you know what I mean). Different strokes for different folks I guess!

    • Sali Hughes

      Same. Not a fan.

    • rochefoucauld

      As a metalhead, I’ve got lots of male friends with long hair. I think it looks totally awesome on them (and I’ll forever regret not meeting my beloved back when he still had long hair). :)

  • Beklet

    I hate my fingernails, so I never paint them. They’re so wide and ridge that I just keep them short. I really dislike bad teeth on others and find it so hard not to judge for it. The current trend for gappy front teeth in adverts makes me heave.

  • Hattie Kennedy

    This is really interesting, I am freaked out by men with long nails and feel quite unwell thinking about one particular person I know who has them long just on one hand and they are filthy and am a bit like this about dirty teeth.

    I think you would find me and my one clubbed thumb upsetting.

  • Reddest_Roar

    I don’t really like it when men are totally clean-shaven. Or have hardly any body hair. Beards FTW!

  • Bekahbea

    I’d react badly to dirty fingernails, and I hate thick, ugly toenails. Personal hygiene is a basic requirement, so no greasy hair, unpleasant body odour or rank teeth, thanks very much.

  • Jackie Gunner

    I just keep thinking that the picture accompanying this piece must be quite upsetting for Jeremy Drysdale.

  • Steffi Gtl

    Not sure how i think about this. It seems a bit “I’m going to be controversial here and say that RAPE IS BAD” because i have never met a single person who didn’t think bitten nails are unsightly. I don’t anymore but i used to bite my nails and would have been furious if someone had refused to do business with me on the grounds that i “clearly don’t value personal grooming”(er what?!). Personally, i have very specific preferences when it comes to my partner but it doesn’t matter at all to what my friends look like. Ok, I can’t stand people who smell like bathrooms. Or people with tiny dogs and tiny handbags. Or conservatives. Or.. ok. I guess I am just as shallow:D

    • Sali Hughes

      It’s not claiming to be right or reasonable. And yes, I think most of us have similar prejudices over something similarly stupid.

      • Steffi Gtl

        No it doesn’t and yeah, everyone does. But in my ideal unicorn fantasy world becoming aware of one’s prejudice should be followed by either an attempt to get rid of it or acknowledging its stupidy instead of justifiying it with pseudo-personal facts (which to me “you clearly don’t value personal grooming” is). Having said that – I’m really really bad at getting irony so if that was the case … i hereby invoke my right as a second-language learner to misunderstand everything and be easily offended! Ha :D!

        • bigbamboo

          I think I simply meant; ‘if you don’t take care of your nails – which are on display – you may well not take care of the other bits, which aren’t’.

          • LittleSallyRacket

            I’m a nail-biter. By all means, people are welcome to find this monstrously unattractive, and that doesn’t offend me. I completely understand why people would find it horrible to look at.

            But I’d certainly take exception to any suggestion that because I bite my nails, I don’t value personal grooming. My nail-biting is related to OCD; to suggest that because I’m a nail-biter I’m some sort of minging sloven is a bit harsh in my book. In all other respects, I really look after my appearance. But I bite my nails in the same way that some people with OCD scratch their skin until it bleeds or compulsively pull out their hair. I have briefly managed to stop a few times for a couple of months but I always find myself returning to biting them, usually triggered by stress or anxiety.

            Nail-biting might be ugly (I’m acutely aware of this fact, believe me; I cringe when I look at my hands myself, hide my hands in photographs, and fully understand why a lot of people hate to see bitten nails) but I’ve got to admit that it’s not nice to hear that some people would assume that it’s linked to poor hygiene or a lack of personal grooming. Biting nails is hardly akin to having rotten teeth or stinky armpits…

  • Jo Macauley-Weeks

    Long nails on men skeeve me out. If I see a man with long nails, I mentally check whether they’re long on both hands. If only the right hand his long nails I’ll assume he’s a guitar player or other kind of musician who uses his nails to finger-pick and I’ll let it go. Otherwise I’ll be inwardly disgusted by him every time I see or think of him.

    • Rowan Smith

      Perhaps they are trans and beginning to come to terms with aspects of their identity and expression? Being disgusted is perhaps a little harsh without knowing more about them?

      • Fi Nightingale

        Oh come on, what are the odds of that being the case, without some other clue to them being trans? It’s not harsh, it’s just a preference, the same as other people not fancying people with curly hair or blond eyelashes. We don’t ask them for their back story before we decide we don’t like those things, it’s instinctive.

    • Kaybar007
  • Mrs de Winter

    Murderers Thumbs make me feel very queasy. Male feet too, in fact the only good thing about the weather getting colder is that soon all men will be wearing proper shoes again.
    What was that film with Keria Knightly wearing a cracking green silk dress? The male actor who got his mitts on her had badly bitten fingernails which made me cringe a bit. Not sure if they were like that to keep him in character, I think he was a ner do well, it had the effect of making me think badly of him.
    However, I am shallow as a puddle.

  • Bunty Winter

    I try not to have chipped nail varnish but when it does happen it makes me feel a little bit grubby and slutty in a good way, esp if its red or dark!! :-O

    • Devon Clark

      YES! I don’t often let mine get too ruddy. But for some reason if I wear red or black I let it go way longer than it should. It feels badass in a good way.

    • Kaybar007
  • Tindara

    I really really hate when people wear sandals or peeptoes that are too short for their feet and their toes hang out over the front. It totally skeeves me out. Get a bigger size!

  • Mac Marsha

    Long toenails on anyone give me the heebiejeebies and not in a good way. I don’t like long fingernails nails on men but also I prefer shorter nails on myself too – I think they look better with dark polish when they are short.

  • Wilma78

    I’m afraid that I can’t look at small hands on a man. It makes me feel all queasy.
    I think we all notice hands, to a greater or lesser extent, because they are so much a part of how we communicate. I gesticulate A LOT.

  • Annelie

    I really hate long nails on a man, and I can’t help it but big, red lips on a man makes me a little queasy.

  • Devon Clark

    I had to do a double take, because I swear those are my nails up there! After a day in the studio followed by building an epic Lego Maze my nails look EXACTLY like the ones above, short nails with black varnish chipped all to hell. I secretly love a black or red polish chipped beyond repair, a faint reminder of that time last week when I cared to make them perfect. But I get this. For me it’s socks and sandals. *shudders.

    • Sali Hughes

      I often wear socks and sandals – mainly high heeled ones. I like it.

  • wiiaholic

    Long toenails on either sex freak me out a bit, but I try not to look at them..

    • Dorayme

      Ergh. Long toenails make me feel physically ill. In the summer I see so many women walking round with toe nails hanging over the edge of their sandals, WHY?! Get some clippers on them! Another thing I kept seeing this sandal season, french manicure on toenails?! Sorry but, If your toenails are long enough to get a french manicure, THEY ARE TOO LONG! Abomination.

  • Badgirl

    Love it when people drag their neuroses out for everyone else to see :) Personally I hate the Tube, and more so having read those reports of the utterly filthy state of everything you touch on a Tube train – so if you see me on one I’ll be wearing gloves even if it’s summer!

  • Clarabunda

    I WILL judge someone for shite tattoos. Not all tattoos, but the “lads holiday, got drunk in Magaluf” ones. or done themselves ones. Or “Man I’m hard” ones. And the teeth, yes.

  • Nic

    Long nails on men *pukes*
    Chipped nails on me *winces*
    Unpainted toe nails *heaves*

    • Sali Hughes

      Yes, my toenails are never, ever unpainted for longer than 2 minutes while I swap colours.

  • Petula Gordino

    I used to work with a man with really long nails. He obviously looked after them – they were buffed and filed and neat – but the length really gave me the heebie-jeebies

  • Pancakehead

    Oh, I do feel wronged. I have awful-looking hands through no fault of my own; square and stumpy and pudgey (no connection with my body weight, they march to the beat of their own drum) with ski slope nails. I am so cruelly discriminated against *flouce*

  • Jackie Gunner

    I feel compelled to post again to say that I have quite nice nails. A bit short, a bit wide, but well kept. 😉 As you were.

  • Cuntpuffin

    People with one huge long pinkie nail, now what is that about? I’ve seen a few people with it and it really freaks me out!

    • bigbamboo

      It’s a thing in certain Mediterranean countries, whereby males illustrate that they don’t have a manual job (and are thus a ‘cut above’ the norm) by having a long pinkie nail. (See also: The taking of cocaine.) Love your name, by the way…

  • LittleSallyRacket

    I’ve been trying to think of anything that I really don’t like to see on men and – beyond the obvious things like just having poor hygiene or rank breath or something – I can’t really think of anything except over-grooming. Men with fake tan, whitened teeth, over-styled hair etc really make me cringe.

    Oh no, hang on, there is something else: I couldn’t fancy a man with a weak handshake. I find it revolting.

    In my late teens, I had a huge crush on a customer who came into the shop in which I worked at the time. He was probably about 28 and had very crooked teeth, multiple piercings and a missing leg. He always wore army surplus combat trousers with one leg pinned up at the knee, as he didn’t appear to have a prosthetic leg and used crutches. I was too shy to ask him out, though.

  • AC

    I have this but with cuticles. Raggedy, uneven, dry cuticles give me the heebs.

  • Nancy

    This is interesting. The other week I went out with a guy. Looked down at this hands and noticed that there was dirt under his nails – this was the moment I decided that I would not be seeing him again.

    However my best friend eats the soft skin under her nails when she is stressed. And rather than being grossed out I just hold her hands to stop her – having said this she has also chucked onto my feet and my main concern at the time was getting her hair out of the way and wiping her face with my favourite cardigan. So maybe best friends are like babies, you can’t find your own gross.

  • Kate Crowther

    I bloody love my hands and my nails. Long fingers, long beds, even length nails. Used to be a biter, but kicked that. Couldn’t wear nail varnish for years cos it made me feel claustrophobic, but I got over that oddity. Bright red or dark colours my favourite.

    Gappy teeth mind, so you can’t have it all.

    I tend not to notice other peoples teeth or fingernails. Unless REALLY bad.

  • Kaybar007

    DITTO. I could have written this – I have the same sentiment but I thought it was from having a mother who had a weekly manicure and never had unpainted nails…

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