Beauty IRL: On Living Your Fullest Life With Kim Kardashian’s Nails

Like Rihanna, Coco from SWV and a variety of other women I admire for their fashion sense and general lack of fucks to give, I love a nice, long nail. I like how they lengthen my wrinkly, fat little hands and turn them into something more glamorous, a little fancy, and slightly dangerous. I like the way they look. I am comforted by the fact that it sounds extra-important and loud when I’m typing, as if I were preparing very important documents under a strict deadline, instead of writing about beauty trends and penises.

I’ve kept my nails long for a while now. I can’t really remember what life was like with short nails. When I have to cut them off because one breaks, or because I’m sick of cleaning errant bits of food out from underneath, I have to re-learn how to do simple things. It feels like my hands are moving a split second ahead of the rest of my body, and it’s strange and disorienting. Long nails are now my default. So, when I read this account of one woman’s weekend — just a weekend! like, two days! — with shiny, nude talons like Kim Kardashian’s, my immediate reaction was a swift eye-roll as I made a nail appointment to test this shit out for myself.

As of this weekend, my own nails were a respectable length, but not the dragon-lady, power-bitch claws I craved. My youngest sister has been rocking a set of Kylie Jenner-inspired acrylics, long and softly tapered and lilac. When she got them done, I grabbed her hands and touched them, in awe.

“I want them,” I told her, bringing them close to my face for examination.

“Please get them so that you stop touching mine,” she responded.

When it was time for her to get a fill, I ventured to the salon with her and left with a set of pearly-nude talons, about a half-inch long, with a square-tip — a deviation from my usual rounded pointy kitten claws. Once they were on my hands, I was obsessed.

They are long, but not too long, and my quality of life has not diminished in any form. There have been a few tiny struggles. Buttoning my coat on the way out was a little trickier than normal, but not to the point where I had to request help from an outside source. If you put a gun to my head and needed me to say, pick up quarters from the ground in a speedy and efficient manner, we might run into some problems, but other than that, I was able to extract my MetroCard from my wallet, get on the subway and open the door of my apartment. I was also able to do stuff like eat some chips, turn on the television, unbutton my pants and change my socks, all without incident.

Fake nails are different only because they’re not growing out of your body. Your regular nails, even when long and claw-like, are still attached to your actual fingers, which have nerve endings and can feel pain. If you bend a nail in a weird way while putting on your pants, or trying very hard to open a window that is stuck, you feel it in your fingers and nails. So, yes, it’s a little weird to do stuff with nails that aren’t yours per se, because you lack certain sensations suddenly, but you know what? It’s not that hard.

Like any sort of modification to the way you live and do things, if you go from having very short nails to very long nails, it requires making tiny changes. Put on your thinking hats, dudes. Figure it out. Typing, for example, is not actually more difficult, just different. It’s not completely untenable. I type with the end of my nails, getting the job done without sacrificing speed or accuracy. Opening things is actually somehow easier. Use a spoon. Use the edge of a knife. Use your keys, or whatever’s lying around. Watch bartenders when they open those cans of Modelo you just ordered. See how they’re not popping the top on those brewskis with their fucking fingers?  Your nails, natural or not, are not the only tools available to you.

Women have been regularly living their lives with fake nails for years. I understand how on the surface, it seems to be a status symbol, a body modification that renders you helpless, in need of assistance from your various minions who will certainly pull your tights up for you if you need it. But the women who have embraced fake nails as their regular day-to-evening-wear-with-everything-fuck-you-this-is-my-look thing have been quite successful at raising children, and doing their jobs, and opening cans of cat food. It’s an adjustment, but it’s not a disfigurement. To call long nails a “functionally useless luxury” is insulting to the women that exist with this sartorial choice every day.

I am on the fourth day of my attempt at capturing the glamour of Kim Kardashian West, at least on my hands, and my life hasn’t changed for the better or the worse. I still make it to work in the mornings and go to sleep at night feeling like I’ve successfully accomplished everything I needed to do that day. These nails are admittedly a luxury –$23 and a couple of hours of my Sunday — but they aren’t the waste or voluntary impairment some would have you believe.