Rise of the Nail Art Activists

by Katrina Pallop

When I was a kid, there was a woman in my neighborhood called The Nail Lady. I’m sure that she had a proper name, but to my five-year-old self, her epic and ever-present nail art eclipsed any of her other characteristics. Every time I ran into The Nail Lady on the way to the school bus, I took careful note of her inch-long acrylic tips, which were always decked out with a new design. And while The Nail Lady’s seasonal nails were fascinating to me as a child, I’m far more taken with nail art’s recent rise and the ways in which it is more relevant than ever.  It’s no wonder that nail art, eye-catching and conversation-starting as it is, has been appropriated by activists with more to express than their favorite colors. 

In recent years, nail art has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. This new surge of interest can be attributed to curatorial social media sites and features like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. In our culture of constant sharing, people get hooked on particular trends and escalate them by contributing their own variations. But nail art has established itself as more than a meme. People are beginning to utilize their nails not only as canvases, but also as sites for activism. 

Nail art can be as much a political statement as a fashion statement, it turns out. The Web is full of stories about groups and individuals expressing their views via nail art. Whether its a show of solidarity or an eye-catching message, politically charged nail art is a whole new frontier of activism. 

This new wave of interest is keeping nail artists plenty busy. Those in this niche profession are enjoying unprecedented attention, and artists like Fleury Rose (a favorite here at BUST) are becoming stars in their own right. It seems that the practice of nail-painting, centuries old though it may be, is becoming more vital by the day. Feminists young and old have embraced this new take on nail art, utilizing it as yet another way to make themselves heard. 

Nail polish is already a noted recession-proof good, but who knew that it was also such a powerful tool for social change and awareness? Check out the trailer for the much-anticipated new documentary about the subject, NAILgasm


Photos via Cosmetic Proof, Twitter, MTV

Video via Youtube


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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