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Psych question: Women painting nails = Pointless exercise?





JoryRFerrell
Why do women (most often it's women) paint their nails? What is the point? If it's a "choice", why don't just as many men make the choice to paint their nails as well? Does the fact that men don't often paint their nails, yet women do so in massive numbers, indicate social programming?
Ankhanu
Yeah, it's largely social programming and gender roles; an artificial distinction between the sexes. Some makeup, such as lipstick and blush/rouge can be traced enhancing or mimicking/exaggerating sexual characters/signals (increased bloodflow to the lips and cheeks when excited), but nail painting is purely decorative. It's dominantly women (in western cultures) because traditionally women have been more sexualized and decorated than men, including decorating the nails with polishes; decorating the body has been seen as feminine rather than masculine.
Vanilla
Ankhanu wrote:
Yeah, it's largely social programming and gender roles; an artificial distinction between the sexes. Some makeup, such as lipstick and blush/rouge can be traced enhancing or mimicking/exaggerating sexual characters/signals (increased bloodflow to the lips and cheeks when excited), but nail painting is purely decorative. It's dominantly women (in western cultures) because traditionally women have been more sexualized and decorated than men, including decorating the nails with polishes; decorating the body has been seen as feminine rather than masculine.


I agree with you pretty much. Women are programmed to be "pretty" all the time since the day they were born. Hence my ears, pierced in the day I was born (not kidding here). Although I hate when people look down on women for choosing not to shave her legs/armpits/whatever, I love painting my nails and taking care of myself in general.

I don't consider myself to be very ladylike, 90% of the time I use jeans and polo shirts, so I think by painting my nails I'm somehow trying to differentiate from men. I use make up too, not the heavy kind. I think I look better with some color in my lips and cheeks (I'm pretty pale). This might be another result of the "programming", but the thing is I enjoy it. I don't think it's wrong to admire beautiful things, what I don't enjoy is other people telling me that I need to do something differently or looking down on me because of the way I look.
spinout
If a female taps her fingernails at the table I get interested instantly... So somewhere long nails have an impact at men. Why?
I don't know... healty people have good nails? No need for them to be colored actually. More a poiter to look at the long nails...

If you dont use the nails then they are naturally long, so am I interested in females that sit still?
Ankhanu
spinout wrote:
If a female taps her fingernails at the table I get interested instantly... So somewhere long nails have an impact at men. Why?
I don't know... healty people have good nails? No need for them to be colored actually. More a poiter to look at the long nails...

If you dont use the nails then they are naturally long, so am I interested in females that sit still?

Aye, that's sociological, rather than a biological character. Not everything that attracts us is biological in nature; for example, I seem to find glasses attractive... and, if anything, glasses indicate bad genes. We can learn what is and is not sexually attractive outside of actual sexual characters. To further this idea, consider how concepts of what makes a woman sexy differ culture to culture, or even in time within a culture.

But, you're right, long nails are/were an indication that a person did not have to work, that they were wealthy and could afford servants, etc. Wealth is attractive and imparts social status, as such, long nails were an indication of high status, high desirability.
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