An uplifting conversation on beauty trends| The culture keeper
Fashion and beauty trends are constantly changing, fading and coming back. One of the latest developments is that men are becoming familiar with wearing nail polish; a standard of beauty that is primarily attributed to femininity. Behind this evolution are liberal millennials and Gen Z who have been at the forefront of defying beauty stereotypes, creating unconventional approaches to beauty, and resurrecting early beauty trends and aesthetics. of the 2000s.
Although it might seem like a new concept to some, it was normal for men to polish their nails. During 3200 BC. J.-C., the soldiers of Babylon spent hours combing their hair and get your nails done and polite before going into battle. The nail color represented their class. For example, a darker nail color indicated a higher rank while a lighter nail color indicated a lower rank. It is believed that in 3000 BC. BC, the Chinese nail polish applied distinguish class from lineage. In Egypt, men wore nail polish to show their status regardless of class.
Men wearing nail polish also date back to the 80s, when television served as a window to various artists and cultures from different parts of the world. Flagship artists like David Bowie and Prince donned wigs, makeup and polished nails. In punk culture, black polished nails represented a community and eventually, subcultures like goth and hard rock reinvented the meaning of nail painting. Over time, this beauty ritual has transcended music and can be seen in Japanese anime like naruto and Hunter X Hunter.
Nigerian men wearing nail polish: self-expression or statement?
In Nigeria, which is heavily influenced by the West, this trend is slowly becoming a thing. Nigerian pop punk and rock artist, Deathshouldrest got the idea to paint his nails from things he saw on TV. “We were the children our parents left in front of the television to go to work. We saw that there is more to the world than what we saw,” he says. As an adult, he takes inspiration from Tyler The Creator to continue wearing nail polish. He tells me, “I’ve always been a fashion nigga. I’ve always been into fashion. I started painting my nails when I saw Tyler The Creator painting his because it felt right.”
Hip-hop artist and web designer Shinx started polishing his nails for a different reason. A few months ago, he allowed his girlfriend to paint her nails and that was it. “I started about 3 months ago. My darling was bored and suggested I get my nails done so I left her,” he says.
For non-binary Emeka, the decision to polish her nails is a matter of personal style. According to them, “I personally wanted to express my style in a way that was considered unconventional and one of them was painting my nails. I started with clear nail polish because it was hard to tell. ‘he was there “.
Whatever the reasons, the concept of men wearing nail polish in a country like ours, where homophobia thrives, is mostly accepted by a specific group that is mostly young or part of the Alte crowd. As a result, a male-looking Nigerian person choosing to do something associated with women often has to deal with the queer label, coupled with mortifying attention, expressions and questioning. A lot of Nigerians find it almost impossible to dissociate nail polish from homosexuality or femininity.
Death should rest faces this problem with his family as his mother immediately assumed he was gay while his father ignored him. In public, people looked at him with confusion and disgust. The facial expressions he got were enough to let him know they were questioning his sexual identity. In his words, “My mum thought I was gay but later accepted it as just a fad. I’m a very stubborn person because I do what I want so she let me go when she saw that I didn’t give a fuck. My dad is a naval officer and he’s educated. He saw it and acted like he didn’t.
Despite the backlash, the pop-punk and rock artist intends to continue wearing nail polish, wigs and makeup, saying, “Of course I’ll rock the makeup, I’ll paint my nails, I’ll gonna rock wigs”.
Hip-hop artist and web designer, Shinx may involve people questioning their sexuality for choosing to wear nail polish. His mother also didn’t approve as she thought the act was only for gay people. On the reactions of family and strangers, he says: “My mother didn’t like it right away. She said it was for gay people. I also get questions from random strangers asking me, “Why did you paint your nails?” ‘Are you gay?’ Or they just stare at my toes and stare at my face like ‘is this guy gay?’
However, Emeka believes gay men are the mastermind behind straight men painting their nails. For them, basic beauty standards like nail polish offer people the opportunity to discover their sexuality and homosexuality. Explaining themselves, they say;
“Buffing their nails is one of the ways queer people can express their sexuality and homosexuality, but more and more straight men are slacking off and getting into it, because other straight men they respect have validated the idea that it’s cool for straight men. Cishet or straight men come into the culture with just black paint because it’s always masculine, it always connotes seriousness and it’s not girly or feminine or queer-presenting like pink or yellow because of the alte scene and afro pop artists of the new modern era. But they don’t realize that the reason these people think it’s cool is because their stylists are queer people who have disassociated themselves from typical orthodox roles and traits or ideas of what’s normal for men, women and non-binaries.
While Emeka’s opinions might represent a fraction of the public, more masculine people continue to embrace fashion and beauty trends that were once considered gay or eccentric with the ongoing discussions of dynamics and gender identities. Currently, male artists are often spotted with manicured nails, especially black in color. This trend has grown from talented alternative artists like Cruel Santino and Odunsi to mainstream Afrobeats stars like Peruzzi, Ckay and Fireboy. Internationally, we’ve seen artists like Jaden Smith, Lil Nas X, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler The Creator wearing nail polish.
With these popular names joining the men’s nail polish bandwagon, others, including their fans, are embracing the trend as well. This simple gesture of a male celebrity showing up in public wearing nail polish is gradually helping to remove the stigma attached to the act and creating a massive change in the culture.
“I’ve seen artists paint their nails too and I think it’s a fashion statement among the new generation of creatives aka alté kids that I identify with. So I preferred them painted. Only the big toes,” Shinx explains.
As the most popular male and gender-accepting celebrities embrace beauty standards (nails, makeup, hair, etc.) typically associated with women, more and more people are beginning to come to terms with the fact that men wearing nail polish fingernails should not be tied to gender identities. or sexuality.