Last week, in the midst of browsing dessert porn and retro swimsuits on Pinterest, I came across a picture of a beautiful woman. She was holding a mug, presumably in an outdoor cafe in a big city. She was very chic, with beautiful hair, big sunglasses, and…neon nails.
And I loved those nails. I wanted those nails, even though, until that moment, I didn’t think I could have neon nails because I didn’t think they were age-appropriate for me.
See, now that I’ve left early twenties and am firmly planted in my mid-twenties, I’ve become more aware of whether or not the choices I make are age-appropriate. I take myself and my life a little more seriously than I did a few years ago. I don’t feel like a college girl, so why would I want to do my makeup like one?
And, up until I saw that picture, I assumed neon nails were for college girls. They were always shown in close-up shots that focused only on the nails, and maybe an accessory or two. Forced to guess what the person attached to the manicure looked like, I always assumed she was young. Hip. Trendy. She didn’t have a career yet. She wasn’t settling down. She was thinking about where she was going out that night, not thinking about her 401(k).
And then I saw this woman. Now, I have no way of knowing her age, her job, how often she goes out, or whether or not she has a 401(k). All I know is that she looked my age — or older — and that she was rocking neon nails and looking incredibly professional at the same time.
There are many other trends that seem, at first glance, to be better-suited for the young. But how exactly do we decide what those trends are? A lot of the things that come to mind — excessive shimmer and glitter, tons of bright colors and/or wild prints — are things that a grown woman can totally rock. Why is our culture so quick to call out women for “trying too hard” and “clinging to youth”? Why did I dismiss neon nails as “too young”? I mean, there’s nothing biological that makes certain trends a better fit for young women. Perhaps we call trends and styles “too old” or “too young” when the makeup is wearing the woman, and not the other way around. But isn’t it better to encourage someone wear the colors and styles that she knows are authentically “her” instead of making hard and fast rules about what she can or cannot do?
The day I came across the photo of the neon nails, I went out and bought a few neons and brights to play around with. A trendy spearmint shade — one of my favorite colors in dresses, accessories, and home decor, but never before in nail polish — was the clear winner. It was me. And once I had it on, I realized that there was no need to worry if it was appropriate; defining your personal style, getting a little boost of happiness from your personal makeup choices, and being authentic is always appropriate, no matter your age.