Left: Courtesy of Kidd Snooze. Right: Courtesy of Humza.
You’d think nail polish on men wouldn’t be much of a story in 2021. Thanks to Lil Nas X, Troye Sivan and Marc Jacobs, as well as heterosexual early adopters like Bad Bunny, A $ AP Rocky and Post Malone , men with their fingernails done should just be another form of accessorization. Along with other fans including Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves, Chanel capitalized early and launched her own line of men’s nail polish last year. Machine Gun Kelly is also dropping hers later this year.
So far that’s in the past – except that there are still a lot of places in the world that need to catch up. This was brought to light last year when Trevor Wilkinson, a 17-year-old Texas student, was suspended for wearing nail polish to school. The decision was later overturned, but outrage on social media was light years away from the talk about Snoop Dogg’s French manicure in 2014.
While nail polish on men (and people featuring men) may have become the mainstream, wearing acrylic is still stigmatized and much less common. No, those Chris Evans memes with touched up nails don’t count.
“At first I was hesitant to get them, but once I did I honestly fell in love,” shares model and acrylic wearer Humza Syed, who first experimented with a themed ensemble. Christmas last year. Since then he has remained manicured, matching the colors of his dyed hair or launching into contrasting colorful designs. “I would say they complement my aesthetic. It’s like it’s mine to wear them. So every time I get dressed, the nails look perfect with whatever I wear in my head, ”he adds.
Kidd Snooze, a musician and other acrylic wearer agrees. “My favorite thing about wearing my nails is how they look, they are very aesthetic,” he says. “I wanted to try them out because I’m really a huge fan of nail art and you can do so many different things with acrylic. I never cared about the “gender norms” they perceived. “
Humza and Kidd Snooze are part of a small but growing group of male acrylic aficionados, and you’ll find more like them parading on TikTok – the #boyswithacrylics hashtag has just under 100,000 views. But, with greenhouses unfortunately come people’s preconceived notions about what type of person should (and shouldn’t) wear them. The videos are often accompanied by captions calling for the normalization of men and people featuring men, as well as inevitable trolls in the comments who think wearing them is negatively feminine.
In fact it is quite the opposite. Model, actor and TikToker Mason Hooper says they’re powerful women – from Catwoman and American Horror Story: Hotel‘s La Comtesse – who inspired him to try acrylic first. “I always thought the almond-style pointed nail aesthetic was so badass,” he says. “All of these femme fatales are using their fingertips as the trendy fury facilitators, and I think that’s so cool.” It is a direct blow against the patriarchal structure and uses a traditionally elegant and effeminate aesthetic as a source of influence and power.
While this may seem obvious to most, it bears repeating that nails are not related to gender or sexuality and can be worn by anyone – something which is sadly lost on opponents. “People think that if you wear acrylic nails you are automatically gay or not straight. Most people who see me with fingernails assume I’m LGTBQ + and when I tell them I’m not they’re always amazed, ”Humza says. “It’s annoying because we should be able to express ourselves as we want without having misconceptions haunting our heads. I do them because I just love getting my nails done and I love the way they fit.
It’s a sentiment shared by Kidd Snooze, who is also straight, but constantly asks him if he’s gay or trans just because of his fingernails. “It’s a huge misconception that people think men with acrylic nails are gay,” he says. “People also think that we do it to impress people or because we want to attract attention, which is not the case either. We wear nails because we love them!
While you might expect the LGBTQ + community to be a little less critical, Mason suggests it isn’t. “As a sexually fluid queer person, my fingernails can be a drag on straight women, but more shocking, I found this similar mindset among men in the queer community,” he says. “Receiving a ‘painted nails are too gay’ message on Grindr is one of life’s most confusing oxymorons, but these kinds of misconceptions stem from internalized homophobia and a lack of education and development. ‘experience. ”
It’s not all bad news, as things are slowly moving in the right direction, according to nail artist Danny Tavarez. “Homosexuals have always used fingernails as a form of self-expression, but now that more and more chick men are catching up, it’s becoming more socially acceptable,” he explains. “I’ve had a few conversations with men who were scared and their fear always stems from how they will be seen by others – the root of it all is really toxic masculinity. Ultimately, nails are just a form of self-expression like any other art form.
Despite the trolls and their outdated perspective, all acrylic wearers agree that experiencing beauty has taught them a lot about themselves. “I learned that I’m just an ordinary boy who dresses,” says Humza. “I want to inspire other people who find it difficult to dress the way they want – whether it’s because of friends, family, or even themselves – to go out and express themselves.”
Mason is equally optimistic and thanks Gen Z and TikTok for moving fashion and beauty trends away from outdated gender norms. “Gender norms are just toys now,” he says. “It’s a trend for the men who feature on TikTok to wear skirts and maid outfits. E-boys and their make-up are going viral. Blurring of gender lines is no longer a shock value tactic in mainstream media, but a valid and valued form of expression. ”
So what are you waiting for? If you are interested in experimenting on your own, Danny assures you it will be worth it. “I understand how important it is to make a decision and how nerve-racking it can be, but I can’t stress enough the confidence that comes with a new pair of nails,” he concludes. “It is your right to own who you are and take up space! ”