What’s the Queer or Lesbian Manicure?

The L Word cast.

Picture Supply: Everett Assortment

I, like many, grew up on “The L Phrase.” The sequence centered round a gaggle of lesbian and bisexual-identifying associates in LA and subsequently formed my understanding of what it meant to be a queer girl. It showcased how queer girls interacted, how they introduced themselves, and finally how they signaled to different girls that they had been queer. Then once more, it was very a lot a program of its time — as indicated by Shane’s low-rise denims, Papi’s fedoras, and the gross mishandling of Max, a personality who transitions from feminine to male in the course of the present.

One other, extra delicate instance of the sequence being a byproduct of the early 2000s happens in season one, episode three titled, “Let’s Do it.” The scene sees Alice, the group’s token bisexual, and Shane, the androgynous lothario, informing the sexually inexperienced Dana on the best way to spot a lesbian primarily based on her manicure. “Dana, take a look at her fingernails — are they lengthy or quick?” Shane asks as they observe a buyer at their go-to espresso store, The Planet. Dana responds, “They’re lengthy and polished, so she’s . . .” and Shane finishes her sentence, “Leaning to straight.”

This interplay, though fleeting and general inconsequential to the bigger plot of the present, set a precedent for tens of millions of queer girl who handled “The L Phrase” as scripture. It embedded a cultural expectation that largely persists to today: queer girls ought to have quick nails, and longer manicures are exclusionary to heterosexuals or the so-called lesbians of mainstream pornography. This notion does not depart an entire lot of room for nuance, and has left many queer girls questioning how they will categorical their sexuality and femininity concurrently.

Enter: the femmicure — additionally known as the queer or lesbian manicure — a nail development that (auto)straddles each vogue and performance. It usually consists of an extended set of pure or acrylic nails adopted by two (or extra) nails at shorter lengths.

Picture Supply: Courtesy of Laura Sterling

“In my expertise, probably the most agreed upon queer/lesbian manicure is having the index and center fingernails quick, generally referred to as ‘social gathering fingers,'” says Laura Sterling, recognized on Instagram as Lorb, a nail artist at Cute Nail Studio in Austin. “However actually it may be any variety of quick or lengthy fingers, satisfaction flags, kinky, goth, tremendous cute, tremendous modern, celestial, bejeweled — you identify it.”

This model, though not totally new, has begun cropping up increasingly more on social media and permits the wearer to specific themselves by way of their manicure with out doubtlessly harming any intimate companions.

“There have been a pair years after I first got here out that I did not get my nails achieved due to my want for secure, snug intercourse with my companion and desirous to be visibly queer — I could not discover a solution to have each,” says Queenie Von Curves, a lesbian burlesque performer and femmicure fanatic. “I first obtained a femmicure being in a monogamous relationship. I’ve all the time beloved having lengthy elaborate nails, however they weren’t working with my intercourse life. I then discovered about it on-line in a humorous meme on a queer Instagram web page and was like, ‘Oh my god, that is good.'”

Queenie 1

Picture Supply: Courtesy of Queenie von Curves

The femmicure has a sensible goal but additionally acts a queer signifier for the wearer — as if to say, “Hey world, I am a woman who likes women.” Signifiers have lengthy been part of the queer group, with photographer Hal Fischer documenting the hanky code of San Francisco’s homosexual scene way back to the Nineteen Seventies. Fischer’s pictures decoded the coloured handkerchiefs and the implied sexual preferences of his topics, which had been dropped at mainstream recognition by way of an artwork exhibition and later guide entitled “Homosexual Semiotics.”

To today, many queer folks make use of signifiers, together with a femmicure, to discretely talk their sexuality to fellow LGBTQ+ people. “Personally, [femmicures are] a method for me to sign to different folks on the L prepare that I’m not solely femme but additionally queer,” says Rocky J, a queer femme tattooer who goes by Child Rock Tattoos on Instagram. “It makes me really feel empowered and permits me to publicly make an announcement about not solely my femininity, however my sexuality.”

It is also vital to acknowledge that whereas the femmicure has grown in recognition amongst lesbian and bisexual girls, it is not unique to both of those teams. As nail artwork continues to develop amongst all genders and sexualities, so does the necessity for a manicure that features accordingly. In spite of everything, no matter intercourse or sexual preferences, all of us wish to make our intimate companions snug with our selection of nail size.

Nonetheless, though many queer folks perceive the aim of a femmicure, it is nonetheless comparatively underground. Traditionally, many within the LGBTQ+ group have been covert when displaying signifiers to keep away from judgment, harassment, or violence. Shining a light-weight on these signifiers has, when dealt with appropriately, given recognition and illustration to a largely underserved group. Within the fallacious arms, it has led to stereotyping. (Who may overlook all of the fuss across the “homosexual ear piercing” within the Nineties and early 2000s?)

But, with generational adjustments has come extra LGBTQ+ acceptance from most people. “I get just a few totally different blended reactions,” Rocky J says. “Some are shocked, some are happy, and others are inquisitive about their goal. My favorites are when folks suppose [my nails are] simply damaged and I have not had time to get them fastened.”

Though occasions are definitely altering, many who put on a femmicure aren’t all the time up for the fixed questioning from strangers. As somebody with a number of seen tattoos, I perceive the sensation. The reality is, there are many sensible explanation why somebody would possibly desire a mixture of lengthy and quick nails. Those that play guitar and bass would possibly reserve quick nails for his or her plucking hand and put on longer nails on their strumming hand. You may additionally hold a few of your nails quick for buttoning up your denims, clasping jewellery, unbuckling a automobile seat, or retrieving a bank card from an ATM slot.

“I’ve seen a brief index finger and thumb for contact lenses,” Lorb says. “The model is completely handy for day-to-day cleansing, private upkeep, urgent buttons — every thing {that a} finger is supposed to do.”

Picture Supply: Courtesy of Queenie Von Curves / Rocky J

Along with permitting the wearer to specific their femininity whereas offering a wide range of useful advantages, a femmicure permits Black and brown queer girls to attach with their group. Nail artwork, significantly longer and extra elaborate types, roots from Black and brown communities. It is a cultural expression that many Black and brown people traditionally have been discriminated towards for sporting — whether or not you are an Olympic Gold medalist or a Grammy profitable performer. The femmicure permits those that put on it to concurrently have a good time their tradition in addition to their sexuality.

“Rising up in a Latina family, I used to be surrounded by lovely girls with vivid purple lips, massive gold bamboo hoops, and skinny brows,” J says. “However what I gravitated most towards was the lengthy french suggestions I noticed my mother’s associates with. In fact, being so younger, I wasn’t allowed to dive into [getting manicures] head first, particularly since my dad and mom had been on the conservative aspect. However the older I obtained, the longer my nails grew to become, and that is led me to the place I’m at the moment.”

Nails are seen as a “female” service, however they should not be, and persevering with to interrupt down that barrier begins with illustration.

Simply as a femmicure consumer will search out a nail artist for his or her technical experience, they’re additionally inclined to seek out an inclusive setting. Queer folks incessantly see magnificence salons (whether or not that be nails, hair, skincare, or in any other case) as a spot of refuge, and so they make up a rising proportion of clientele throughout a spectrum of sexualities and gender identities. “Nails are seen as a ‘female’ service, however they should not be, and persevering with to interrupt down that barrier begins with illustration,” says Alaina Schwechler, a nail artist recognized to TikTok as HoneySheNailedIt. “Persons are seeing nails for the artwork that they’ve all the time been, and with that, extra persons are utilizing them as a possibility to outline who they’re.”

Creating an inclusive setting isn’t solely vital for queer clientele, but additionally the nail artists themselves. That group of help, each in particular person and on-line, exhibits the influence one thing as small as a manicure can have: “I used to be a late bloomer in coming to phrases with my sexuality,” Schwechler says. “The primary queer nail-art set that I did was a bisexual satisfaction set; it was my method of popping out with out popping out. It was the primary video of mine to hit one million views and launched my platform. If that is not proof that we needs to be dwelling in our reality, I do not know what’s.”

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