Own It

On a recent trip to Mo’s, she taught me something really important. She was giving me a manicure while we sat on her couch, and what I learned I have parlayed into something meta for my life. I don’t chew my nails, but I keep them fairly short because of a) all the typing I do, and b) all the other crap I do with my hands, and c) long nails bug me. Consequently, while my toes are always painted pretty, my fingers seldom were.  But when she was done filing and smoothing my hands, she pulled out this insane ruby red Butter LONDON polish called “Knees Up” (hee!) and proceeded to paint my short, nicely filed nails this deeply scandalous, attention grabbing shade. I rebelled. I was self-conscious. Only women with long, manicured nails should wear a color like that- “I can’t wear that!” I protested. Holding my hand and brushing on the crimson anyway, she looked askance at me. “If you have something you don’t like, and you ignore it, it just looks neglected. If you polish it, it looks like you did it on purpose. Own it.”


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of her saying that lately. Embrace the things that might be looked at as neglected, and suddenly they actually stop being flaws and become a beautiful, purposeful part of the whole. But what do I know- it was just about nail polish… But my nails have been polished ever since. (Today, they are a Sephora Opi called “Under My Trenchcoat”. This weekend, I’m planning on “Queen of Everything“.  Gotta love the names.)

16 thoughts on “Own It

  1. I love the way you repeat the things I say in a way that makes them sound all insightful and stuff.
    We make a good team.

  2. I’m so many baby steps behind you. I just barely managed to get into the habit of painting my toenails before the last paint job starts looking scandalously shabby. Someday I’ll make the pilgrimage out there (for REAL) and I’ll just hold very still and learn everything you have time to teach me.

  3. In my next life, I want to have a job dreaming up names for nail polish colors.
    However, in this life, I shelve books all day long…and it is impossible to keep polish on my nails or have them look half waydecent at all. I’ll have to figure out something else to “own.”

    • Mel, I found, per Mo’s tutorage, that when I buy the better polishes, they don’t chip. Go figure. The el cheapo drug store ones are gone in a day or two, a good one will stay on for a long time, no chips.

  4. Tracy, what brands then would you recommend? I am in the water a couple times a week for an hour at a time. And I haven’t found anything that will last on my nails. That and my nails are starting to thin a little, I’ve always had really white tips that were really strong.
    Oh and is that a new picture of you? I like it!

    • Butter London is the best one I’ve tried- but it’s $14 a bottle- the only one’s I’ve used I borrowed from Mo. But honestly? Days later I had to really scrub and TRY to get it off. No chipping, nothing.

      In the more affordable realm, OPI is a great polish. Sephora carries a whole line of OPI, and you can get it at Ulta or beauty supply stores.

      Yes, it’s a new picture- thank you very much!

  5. I’m a swimmer, but extremely self-conscious. The fact that the cardio room at my gym looks at ONLY the swimming pool really stresses me out. In fact, I have a hard time swimming because of it. Recently, someone told me something similar to Mo’s advice to you – “So, their opinion is more important to you than your health and body?” It really struck a chord with me. It’s very hard to “own it” but once you do, I think it naturally makes you even more beautiful, and gives you a boost. I like the polish!

  6. Okay, I’ve rocked the smoky eye for a few weeks now. Yesterday I painted my nails for the first time in months. Neutral shade, not scandalous, b/c I have clinic rounds this semester and scandalous is against the university clinic rules. Keep this advice coming. I am slowly coming out of the frumpness of 42-yr-old-mommyhood. 🙂

      • I used to be huge into looking my best…..decades ago. But having 4 kids (1 with learning disabilities and 1 with Down syndrome) really put me into a mentality of ‘everyone else before me’. You understand how overwhelming that can be. I have to admit I feel more put together with makeup and nails done. Now I need to start running again.

        love your new pic. 🙂

  7. i’ll have you know that i just got back from ulta and $61 later, i have MANY fabulous colors for my really short nails! thanks!

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