August 1, 2014

Can Men Wear Nail Polish?

An employer asked me why I, as a man, wear nail polish. It's actually a question I hear commonly, from friends, family, lovers new and old. Displaying feminine traits, such as wearing makeup and nail polish is seen as abandoning one's role as a man and taking a "lesser role" as a homosexual, a "ladyboy" or some other strange "thing".

Tiger Craven with painted nails

My sexual identity and my gender identity have little to do with it. I'm not gay, but I am a genderqueer who identifies as a gender nonconformist. What that means is that I exhibit behaviors that don't conform to gender norms. I don't do it to fight the patriarchy (though that may be an unintended result), but because I see no problem with wearing nail polish, and because I just want to.

But the main reason why I wear nail polish is this:

The very first time I wore nail polish was in the company of very good friends, of whom painted my nails while we were having a great time. These, of course, are friends I am sadly no longer involved with, but it's the memories that I wish not to forget.

sometimes visual reminders work best

When I paint my nails, it's a visual reminder of happier times; it's a piece of self identity and it gets me through hard times. Up until I was 20, I never had a piece of self identity to get me through hard times and instead took the unfortunate approach to dealing with these feelings by cutting my arms and legs.

I wear nail polish because it makes me happy, and while you can question it all you want to, you have no right to take that away from me.

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author Tiger Craven About Tiger
Tiger is a 22 year old college student, activist, and professional living in the Saint Louis metro area. When he's not being apathetic to the idea of God or writing about atheism, he is serving a presidential term for a mental health organisation and a board membership of another, does public speaking about mental illness and disability, and is a photographer and a bassist.