I think nail polish is fabulous. Seriously, I love it. Black, bright colors, jewel tones — I think it’s great. I’ve posted before arguing that nail polish should be socially acceptable for everyone, not just for (feminine cis) women. However, when I say that nail polish is for everyone, I don’t mean Alphanail. Alphanail rather horrifies me, actually. Bitch Media posted a good response to it here.
Let me start by repeating that I love it when guys wear nail polish. I wear nail polish (lavender, hot pink, black). My friends wear nail polish. I thought the J. Crew ad with Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toes pink was adorable. I’m even okay with particular nail polishes being targeted specifically at men (I mean, insofar as I’m okay with certain — read: virtually all — nail polishes being aimed at women and girls). That’s how marketing goes: it’s never really aimed at everyone.
Alphanail, however, I find deplorable. It is so obnoxiously aimed at men in this really hypermasculine, bullying, aggressive kind of way. They have polish colors like Cocaine. They say things like “No self respecting man should ever have to buy cotton balls.” They call it “war paint” and “nail armor.” It saddens me that they do things like that in order to market nail polish to men. It saddens me that they feel the need to police what a “real” man should do. It saddens me that they advertise in such an over-the-top fashion, that there are so many bikini-clad women draped over the warrior men in their photos (including one just of the woman’s derriere) — as though the only way to sell anything to men is by objectifying women. None of this surprises me, but it still makes me sad. Alphanail just seems so terrified that someone might think it not quite masculine enough that they want to bash you over the head with how incredibly manly and not-at-all girly it is.
Part of what I love about men (and trans and gender-variant people of all forms) wearing nail polish is that it goes against societal norms. They’re secure enough in who they are to do what they want. I’d like to see nail polish marketed as something fun, something attractive, something whimsical. Something for people. Not something that is going to rebuild the walls and separations between what “men” and “women” are supposed to do.
I will say two (and a half) positive things about Alphanail. Number One: The applicator pen looks cool; I’m not great at using the little brushes, and it looks easy to use. Number Two: “Deep Ocean” is actually really pretty, and I kind of wish I could get it (although I refuse to give money to Alphanail). And the last little half positive thing: Even though I strongly disagree with how Alphanail goes about marketing itself, I may be in favor of the fact that it’s still trying to get guys to wear nail polish. I don’t think it makes up for the negative things, but it’s something.
This is also objectifying, but I don’t want to have that photo on my blog.