Long before BiterGate a reader left a comment on an old post criticizing the brightly painted red toenails on the girls. I don’t mind (constructive) criticism, but when someone questions the values that I’m teaching the girls about beauty and self esteem and snarks that I probably let them wear makeup too, well, I’d rather you ask about why I let the girls have painted toes than assume the worst. You see, aside from the fact that I don’t think it’s a big deal, there is a story behind it (isn’t there always?). It’s true that the girls have had more pedicures in nail salons than I have in my lifetime (I’ve only ever had 4), but it started with my dad, of all people.
One summer when we were living with my parents while renovations were being done to our apartment, my dad would often take Mia, who was then 18 months old, to the property of stores that my parents own. There was a playground around back and in the next little strip adjacent to my parents’ was a nail salon. The women who worked there would often let Mia play in the salon while my dad took care of business around the property. The following summer, Mia started getting little pedicures with flowers whenever she would come by. She’d toddle over to the rows of bottles and pick out a color, bring it over to the table, get her nails done and then sit with the other women at the drying station, chatting and striking up conversations. When Claudine was old enough last summer, my dad would take both the girls out and she too would get her nails painted. It was their little ritual whenever we went over to my parents’ for the weekend – to go out to the stores, play in the playground, get pedicures and then get treated to huge cups of frozen yogurt at the new yogurt place on their strip. Who am I to argue with this? But more significant to me is the fact that my dad initiated this bonding ritual. This is a man who didn’t allow my mom and I to wear colored nail polish when I was growing up. We could only wear clear. I don’t know when he decided that pink nails were ok on a 2 year old, much less on us, but this seemingly innocent and fairly insignificant act for me symbolized a little triumph – for feminism, for being able to make your own choices on what to wear without being dictated by a man, for the fact that sometimes, people can change in little ways.
I think you know what the moral of this story is. Speaking of mean, seems like there’s a lot of chatter recently about mean comments being posted in blog land. Which is why I love this.