Many years ago I had the privilege of working with Carla Mathis. I was living in Massachusetts and she had flown there to work with private clients. I spoke with her briefly and set up my appointment in the home of fellow image consultant.

During our time, the topic of nails came up. Our fingernails to be exact. She was telling me about her daughter who was about to give birth, and how beautiful her nails were – long and manicured. I naively retorted about how hard that would be with a new baby.

Carla gently reminded me that fingernails were personal and that her daughter could handle anything with long painted nails.

So why was I so perplexed about that?

Mostly because I had always wanted long nails, could never grow them, and had not invested in professional manicures on a weekly or semi-monthly basis. That seemed too extravagant for me at the time.

A few years later, however, I did begin to wear acrylic and then gel nail polish – having it applied professionally. Just a couple of years in I realized that I no longer liked how they felt. The polish felt heavy on my fingers, caused my nails to turn red, and more than that, they began to feel inauthentic to me – to my personal style.

Now inside of a workshop I do on dressing authentically I ask the audience members how they feel about certain topics – one of them being — their nails.

Inevitably the room divides by about 50/50 those that have professional nails done and those that don’t depending on the audience. It’s very enlightening to hear each woman talk about why she does or does not have her nails painted professionally.

It’s delightful to watch the women support and encourage each other on their decision to take care of themselves in different ways, and when the judgment surrounding nails is removed – the topic is discussed freely.

After tackling my need for non-judgment, Carla went onto to tell me the story of her dad painting her fingernails (fingers actually) when she came home from school one day crying about being teased. The reason is so poignant, I wanted to share it with you.

Here is part of her story from her website:

“Identity is a celebration of what makes us special. To be celebrated is all a child wants, all a child needs really. I was born with webbed hands and feet (My mom was very sick in her first trimester when my hands and feet were being formed). When I was born, my father declared, “Every baby is a special gift from God. Our baby is special on the outside, aren’t we lucky!”

This initial shot of affirmation was followed by a childhood rich in honor where lots of room was made for me to grow. After 14 years of surgeries to repair my hands and feet, every opportunity to explore the world was encouraged. A “can do” attitude was instilled in my brother and me, in my case, literally, from day one. There was never any whining over what might have been or could have been.”

When we contemplate any changes to our personal style – our bodies — whether it be clothing, hairstyles, nails or accessories, let’s think about what works best for us.

What works, what doesn’t and why – and then be at peace about that.

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