Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Color me true



It's very exciting for me to be in New York, a place where having many nail salons lowers the price of a manicure to $6, half as much as it costs in Seattle.

The nail salon on Kingston was quiet when I walked in with two friends the other day.

The arduous mental task of picking a color was all that stood between me and my seat in front of a sweet, middle aged, non-English speaking Asian.

I looked at the wall of colors.

Does anybody actually wear lime green nail polish?

Probably not, but they have it anyways.

It’s all there, to create a beautiful rainbow on the wall of potential colors that can have you standing for hours trying to decide.

My eyes go directly to the row of reds.

Red nail polish is so fun.

Red is boldly feminine.

Red is eye catching.

Red is dramatic.

Red is alluring.

Red is…

Gosh, you know the word I'm trying to get at.

I pick up the red.

I’m excited about this.

But something keeps me looking.

I am being held back from committing to the color.

The voice within is talking.

It’s saying, “Red is just too hot.”

It’s saying, “Red is a statement.”

It’s saying, “Be attractive, not attracting.”

In contrast, the friend I was with decided on red rather easily.

The pressure kicked in, and I told her about my inner struggle.

She said, “Yea, who cares? Do what you want.”

I say, “I should go with my intuition, right?”

She agrees.

But what is my intuition?

One part of me is saying, “Do what makes you feel good.”

The other is saying, “Don’t be so loud.”

I decided to end the inner battle by going with my initial attraction to the red.

I fell for its flames, and, with an excited smile, went to get the show on the road.

I sat down, and started chatting idly with the lady who was now dipping my hands in blue liquid and filing my nails to a square.

The whole time, I’m looking at the red positioned next to her hands, and glancing back at the color well.

The thoughts are still like waves in my head.

Would I wear red nail polish on a date?

Would I feel comfortable wearing it in front of the people I admire?

Does it give off a false impression? Portray a boldness that I just don’t relate to?

My hands are now ready for the polish.

The lady is shaking the bottle.

She is twisting the cap.

My hands are limp at her whim.

No joke – a second before the brush is about to hit my nails, I pull my hands away.

“Wait, I’m so sorry, but I am going to go get a different color!”

The color of nail polish should not bring forth such a mind battle.

Either it fits, or it doesn’t.

I took it as a sign that I really am uncomfortable with the red.

Right then and there, I decided - I am going to show my true colors.

I quickly ran back to the color wall and picked out something lighter, a warm peachy color.

For me, no matter how attracted I was to going for the bold red, it didn’t sit well with me.

I had to question my motives. I had to hear the stronger voice. I had to be honest.

When it came down to it, something overrode my attraction to the red.

I have not formulated a strong opinion about red nail polish.

I am not making broad claims about the nature of those who wear it.

This was just me being forced to make a personal decision, and trying to be true to myself, and where I’m holding.

I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t care.

If I had to tell myself “I don’t care” to go with it, then I couldn’t do it.

With my decision against red that day, I decided to have a conscious about even the seemingly insignificant choices I make all the time.

Everything about my outer appearance, yes – down to the color of my nail polish – is meant to blend and jive with who I am beneath it all.

So, I spent that Shabbos with a polish color that was more “blah” than “wow.”

And the funny part is that, deep down, what nobody sees is that I am very attracted to hot red nail polish.

I am wearing lighter shades, but little do you know, I hurt my head deciding against red.

“Mimi doesn’t wear red nail polish.”

Yea, so what? I don’t wear it. But I am attracted to it.

In the end, does my choice of color point to my modesty?

Modesty starts from within, but within - I want red!

There, the truth is out there.

Don’t be deceived.

Yes, in the end, though – I didn’t go for the red.

And what does that say about me?

It’s not so clear.

But one thing is for sure.

While my nails may not be painted a bold red, the decision I made left me feeling pretty brave.

18 comments:

chang said...

Mini - I've always thought of us as schizophrenic. the n.h. and the n.t. Two of us in one person. The yaakova and eisav struggle. keeps us on our toes...this is for sure.
here's a bracha to continue making awesome choices. don't be schizo. stick to one personality. 'shkoiach!

Anonymous said...

Would I wear red nail polish on a date?

The better question is: would you go to the Rebbe in Yechidus and starch out your hand to give a Pa”n with red polish or to get dollars and put out a hand with red hot nail polish??? I think the answer is a loud NO!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mimi, your posts are so inspirational! There's so much in that decision that's much deeper than the issue of nail polish.

Dov said...

I smiled reading this. Very entertaining.

I think us Notiks are often indecisive because we always have the weight of the world in every passionate decision. Mostly that's a good thing, Thank God. I'll leave it there.

Who's down for Mimi really taking this blog to a whole new level? Stay tuned.

Love,

--Dov

Bachur. Yeaaaa. said...

Rad, Mimi!

I mean, red.

Raw, real, wow.

On Shlichus in Cali said...

the truth is i get uncomfortable when chassidishe girls wear red nailpolish

seriously

and im not one to judge or have an sensitivity...

but

chassidishkiet isnt about following rules

its all about becoming something, developing that sensitivity

refinment

purity

INNOCENCE

and red is the color of

guilt
of shame
of revenge
agression
assertivness
sexuality
blood and passion

and thats where the Yetzer hora chills
...in anger
and lust

ten points on your post

im lovin my orange

actually, its a deeeeep orange

more like a red

hmmm

the said...

nice mimi, nice

(im saying it in a soft gentle aidel tone of voice--while inside im doin cartwheels and flappin around wildly)

Nemo said...

I don't think that the poor Chinese lady should have to put of with your tirades for a measly $6.

I don't see anything wrong with red, but then again, I wouldn't wear it ;)

Anonymous said...

But honestly- there are so many paradoxes that have evolved and have now become "accepted" in Chabad communities- especially in the area of women's outward appearances. Today, Chabad girls are "allowed" to wear clothing that really are not the very picture of modesty. Yet, even the very chassidish girls dress this way. So at this point, don't you think that even a good girl wearing red nails can get away with it? People don't think twice about it anymore. Or do they?

pia said...

mimi... i am very impressed!
i dont even have to tell u what i would like to read about, and u write it!
i was just learning about this in tanya class! i think this is something thati should definately read to my high school! would u mind?

Rochel Leah said...

It is funny, I think that we all have our "red nail polish" moments throughout the day, and it is how we deal with them that helps us become closer to H-shem. Great post!

Pragmatician said...

What a battle, your unconscious seems to work with you that's a wonderful thing.
You were brave as red is a powerful colour.
Did you like the colour you ended up choosing?

LubaGal said...

Wow, you're amazing... I can so relate!!
Loving your blog!

Estee said...

I like it.

Anonymous said...

hehe
the opprosite to anonym00kie's red room!!

lubi educated in Bais Yaakov said...

just the other day i was talking to my friend who is seriously in the dating scene. she made a completely innocent remark that still leaves me stinging.
"Oh I know the lubavitchers. the guys all have long beards, but next to them always walks a hottie."

we should all look good, be confident about our outward appearance, and love the skin we are in. but does this elicit the title hottie?

i, for one, would not be proud if that discription was of me.


on a diff. note:
once while i was in bais yaakov we had a strange extra credit question for a test. we had to connect a red jelly bean to the chumash matter on which we were being tested.
i mentioned how red is royalty and we are all daughters of G-d - princesses. (at the sametime "the beaty of a princess is within")
my class mate wrote how red is a loud color, and we must stay away from wearing it.

it's all determined by your perspective.

Anonymous said...

As a man, I have always wondered about the allure of painting... nails!

As a Chosid, we learn that nails represent but two elements: death, as in dead skin - that are so dead so they do not even hurt when cut - and causing trouble to a fetus, hence the burning of them).

And the second element of nails represent damage and hurt (as in claws as specified in Hayom Yom).

Why nails?

Why not paint the tip of the nose? After all, lips are painted! Why not paint the tip of the forehead (Indian anyone)? After all, the eyelids are painted!

Where does it end? Begin?

As a man, I may never understand it. But there you go, Mimi, taking something as mundane and feminine and turning into something deep, personal, and brilliant.

After all, that is one way of looking at the idea of modesty and "inside" designated by the Torah for the woman: Deep, personal and brilliant.

Thanks, Mimi.

Mimi said...

Chang: Keeps us on our toes indeed. Hey, speaking of toes. What color? Hmm, no one sees them...how does that play into this? Maybe a separate post...

Anonymous: Totally. For me, yes, the answer is a loud no. I was just trying to use a more, um, practical, possible, and relevent example. Thanks for bringing that to life, though.

Anonymous: Indeed, can go deeper inside, get crazy with the ins and outs of this struggle, what it means...ahh, yup. Glad you feel it. Thanks.

Dov: You rock. Awesome to have made you smile. Yeeaa!

Bachur: Hmm, who are you? Yeaaa...

On Shlichus in Cali: Wow. Thanks for sharin' darling ;-)

The: Who are you? Hilarious, was cracking up. And you so got what I was saying...

Nemo: I don't know that I would call it "tirades" but apparently you get defensive for the nail salon workers. I don't know why, being you're a Bachur...who...would, um, never wear red nail polish.
Just by the way, you don't have to see anything wrong with red nail polish, so not the point of this post, and besides - who are you to have an opinion of such a personal female experience? Appreciated neverthless. :)

Anonymous: You bring up a heavier issue. All these thoughts were going though my mind during the decision. In the end, I decided to go with how I felt inside, not how other people feel, what they accept. It's a good rule. Maybe I'll write something about what you're bringing up here, hmm..

Pia: Hiii! Niiice - and of course, please, share in your school. Lemme know about it afterwards...

Rochel Leah: "red nail polish moments" - I like that. So true.

Pragmatician: Thank you thank you. I didn't end up loving the color, but it was alright. I still didn't regret denying the red...

Lubagal: Hi there, who are yoooou? Welcome to the Hilltop, stick around. And thanks.

Estee: Hi. Glad, glad...

Lubi educated in Bais Yaakov: Real things you bring up.

I've heard the same comment, but I kind of like it, doesn't get to me. At least the sentiment. I like the image of a Chassid looking guy with a pretty girl. Much to analyze here. But yes, the term "hottie" is so lame, offensive.

Crazy about the contrast between a Chabad girl and a Bais yaakov girl, and the approach, association. But at the same time, you're both right, and it depends where the red is going...

Anonymous: I kneeeeew there's so much to learn about what Torah has to say about nails, colors, etc. Great to hear some of it, thanks for taking the time to share it. Looking deeper into our habits, our desires...it's always an amazing learning experience, isn't it?

---

I wish I could open up a forum to discuss all the thoughts and opinions that this brings up.

Meanwhile, I've been to the salon since, and it's not the same now that I've loudly expressed a part of my inside process.

I still want red. But I feel stronger.

This time, I went for a pinky-white, almost clear fresh look. Don't like it, nothing special. But, hey, it comes off so quickly. And still, it feels right to think so deeply and critically of seemingly irrelevent things.

Nothing is irrelevent.

Down to the pinky (nail, that is).

Thanks everyone!