The Importance of Having Nice Nails (or not!): Chanel's Nouvelle Vague

“A well-groomed set of brightly coloured nails is the sign of a woman in control of her life,” or so said Peter Phillips, Chanel’s beauty guru in the Times magazine at the beginning of April. He would do. He wants to sell his nail varnish and a headline like that is guaranteed to send us women scurrying off to the Chanel counters at a fair old pace. None of us want to be seen as not being in control of our life. This year Chanel is marketing a ‘surreal shade of turquoise’ called ‘Nouvelle Vague’. Personally, I would say that a well-groomed set of brightly coloured nails may well actually be the sign of a woman controlled by the fashion media. I gave up painting my nails in 2002... to show that I was in control of my life!

In 1999, Julia Roberts ceased shaving her armpits. This fact was released in the media with such words as ‘shame’, ‘uproar’, ‘taboo’, ‘busted’. Can you get busted for having neglected to shave your arm pits? Apparently so. When I Googled ‘Julia Robert’s hairy arm pits’ I was presented with 14.5 million pages! As I perused Hot Hits ‘Hairy Arm Pits Hall of Shame’ I was told that there was ‘no excuse’ for forgetting to shave and Julia’s misdemeanour is dubbed ‘probably the most famous hairy armpit moment of all time’. Even the BBC ran a news article on it.

At about the same time that I ceased wearing nail varnish, an older consultant started on my project at work. When summer came, she would sit in board meetings wearing a sleeveless dress and stretch her arms above her head revealing a pair of positively hirsute underarms. That consultant was so sure she was good she didn’t even have to shave her pits. It was about her ability not about image. I have never forgotten that consultant, although I confess to having a giggle or two.

I'm not about to reveal the current status of my armpits. But should it be that I shave them, it will not be because I am ashamed of my God given hair or frightened that I will be ‘busted’ by the armpit police; it will be because it's summer and it's hot.  Same goes with my nails - if you see me sporting bright red talons (I do have the varnish - ref photo) - it's because I want to, not because Chanel pay someone to persuade me I must.

Read last month's post: 2 mph

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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