Confession: green nails make the world happy
When a change of polish represents a change in everything 💚
Manicures have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. When I was a child, it meant accompanying my mom to Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills, a good 25 minutes away from our home (and 20 minutes further than the local manicurist) so she could get the perfect French manicure. Long before gel manicures that last for weeks, these self care expeditions happened weekly. I’d like to say my mom did these things for her own self pleasure and benefit, but I grew up in a culture and community where self grooming wasn’t about self care — it was about meeting expectations and keeping up appearances.
Unsurprisingly, when I came of age at 13 (my Bat Mitzvah year), maintaining a flawless outward appearance became my responsibility, too. So together we’d go back to Robertson Blvd. Maybe I wouldn’t get services weekly like my mom, but I’d get my nails done frequently enough that the smell of nail polish will forever trigger memories of my adolescence. While French manicures were my mom’s standard issue, I vacillated between shades of light pink (the proper choice) and red, my favorite color and thankfully an acceptable choice (as long as I got it removed before it chipped).
The funny thing is, I never felt good about my color choice. I’d take my time choosing, and yet, the moment the polish was on, I’d regret not choosing something else. It’s not like I knew what I would have liked better — I just always felt like what I chose was wrong. This feeling followed me for a very long time. To the world, I was perfectly put together, just like my mom. But inside, I doubted myself. A lot.
One of my earliest Fred and Far promo shots, back from 2017.
My commitment to manicures followed me into adulthood, especially after I created the Self Love Pinky Ring and suddenly became a hand model. For over five years, I’d constantly be taking pictures of my hands and posting them to social media and the website to showcase the ring. My nails were front and center, and so yet again, I made sure they were perfect. This time, I only had three colors to work with: nude, white or black. I needed the nails to match every stone we offered, and to appeal to the broadest set of viewers. I kept them long, in the Instagram-favored almond shape, and maintained them religiously. I remember one time my natural but way too long nail ripped off. It wasn’t easy keeping long nails while raising twin toddlers. Instead of having the long nails trimmed down, I had the manicurist superglue what was left and add a fake tip on top. There was no way I would ever post a picture of short nails on my Instagram.
Self Love Confidential by Melody Godfred is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Last year, I decided to take a break from Fred and Far and the Self Love Pinky Ring, which meant the need for picture perfect nails subsided. For a few months I tried not doing my nails at all, to see how it would feel to be natural and to relieve myself of the financial and time commitment my nails required. I was surprised to realize that despite doing my nails for the world, I actually did enjoy having them done, too. So in January of 2023, I made the appointment, fed my parking meter, and set out to pick my polish color.
Me and my blue nails in January 2023.
This time though, instead of picking the most people pleasing color available, I would let joy be my guide. What color would bring me the most joy? I chose a bright, electric blue. Every time I caught a glimpse of my nails, I felt tickled. This quiet rebellion represented my freedom: from both my prim childhood, and my Instagram audience. So in February, I did it again — this time a glittery opal — and in March an electric purple. Each time I let my joy pick my new color, I experienced something I had never felt before: certainty. I never regretted my color choice, the way I had for so many years in the past.
In April though, I took it all the way with neon green. Purple and opal and even blue all felt safe in comparison to the shock of green I’ve now been wearing for almost a month. The green nails have also become an inadvertent social experiment. Of all the colors I’ve worn in my life, none have solicited as many compliments as neon green. People from all walks of life, in all kinds of spaces, stop to compliment me. An old man in the Trader Joe’s elevator, the Uber eats delivery person. The bank teller, the school administrator, the gas attendant. Young people, older people, children. I’ve never had a man compliment me on my nails before — especially one I don’t even know. It’s wild! “I love your nail polish!” coupled with a genuine smile awaits me wherever I go. Green nails have cultivated the most social interaction I’ve had with strangers in years.
We’ve all heard the about green M&Ms being the most popular, and now I get it. Green, the color of Spring, is in many ways, the color of my own rebirth. These nails not only make other people happy, they make me happy, too. They deeply connect me with my joy.
By shifting my perspective on a manicure from pleasing others to pleasing myself, I ended up pleasing everyone. In a world where we are bombarded with messages of self care (I’m guilty of this, I know), imagine if we rooted our self care in joy — our joy, the world’s joy.
Here are five, actionable strategies for joy-focused self care that you can start practicing today:
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Self Love Confidential by Melody Godfred to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.