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Artificial society-mandated ways of spending time and money

January 2nd, 2015 at 06:34 am

Every time I'm in a nail salon, I can't help but think of that.

Doing your nails is a social requirement for a professional woman. Just the way it is. Keeping your nails clean and trimmed is not sufficient anymore. They have to be painted. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that did not exist before and now there are more nail salons than grocery stores.

Yes, you can do your own (I can't do that nearly as well though), but it is still a waste of time and money (more time, less money if you DIY). How much time is wasted collectively on something that stupid?

But as a society we don't see that from the inside. Just as people did not see giant powdered wigs as unnecessary and ridiculous. Or, we look at the culture that puts ring coils on a woman's neck to stretch it as crazy, but don't think that ripping your hair out in a Brazilian wax as something crazy or weird at all, and comply with whatever society tells us is the new norm. And we create whole industries around it. I know if we lived in that society, we'd be piling on those brass rings like no tomorrow.

7 Responses to “Artificial society-mandated ways of spending time and money”

  1. doingitallwrong Says:

    I think your specific example is a regional thing, a 'minicosm' of US society in general. (One of many, of course.) Around here, mani/pedis are still considered a luxury. (And I do think a Brazilian wax is crazy! LOL) Still, to the larger point, yes, there are societal norms and a lot of them involve spending money. (Heck, even clothing has a social element; back in the dark ages when I was a kid you were a social pariah if you didn't have Jordache jeans.) I think it's harder on kids to buck those societal pressures, but as adults it becomes easier -- for some, anyway -- to go against the grain.

  2. buckybadger Says:

    I used to be terrible at doing my nails - mostly my "off" hand. Looked like hell. Now I'm quite good. It's something you can get good at if you practice a little.

    Grooming standards are very industry specific, though. I'm a scientist and I work in hospital locations. Women in my field are not expected to look a certain way. In the OR, nail polish is forbidden and must be removed. I wear scrubs and clogs during clinical procedures. Perfume and scented hair and cosmetic products are not allowed.

    This expectation follows into our professional meetings, as well. No one is expected to have the sort of look that requires manicures and a smokey eye.

    But for a certain type of woman, things like manicured nails are expected. That's why it's nice that you can learn to do that yourself!

  3. LittleMissSplendid Says:

    I agree the thoughts on painted nails being expected of professional women may be a regional thing, say in larger cities or where there are more white collar jobs. However this isn't just an expectation of professional women, but for single women in general (perhaps also a regional thing). I was just thinking about all the things I spend money on largely for the purpose of being more attractive to single men ...nail salon, hair salon, facials, waxing, makeup, clothes, jewelry, heels, etc... and it is kind of comical. Sure some of you will say men don't care about any of that stuff or won't notice, but my single gal pals and I have experimented with this off and on over the years and found that not doing these things = no dates. I think the same thing happens in certain professions with the women who choose not to do this being viewed differently regardless of how effective they are at their jobs.

  4. Buendia Says:

    I feel very relieved that in my field, if I painted my nails, I'd be made fun of! (By contractors). I won't even wear a pink shirt! And where I live, in any business setting, it's perfectly ok not to have a manicure, but I live in a very casual (western US) city.

    However, I'm sure there are a lot of other things that I do that I wouldn't do if society didn't mandate it (deoderant is one that instantly comes to mind!), so I understand what you mean completely!

  5. buckybadger Says:

    I am forever happy that my husband and I found each other while we were both in graduate school working for our PhDs. No nail polish necessary!

  6. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I like doing my own fingernails, but definitely prefer getting a pedicure at a salon. For me it has nothing to do with what anyone else will think of me, but how I feel when I have it done.

    I rarely wear makeup, and I don't really "style" my hair. My bf likes it on the occasions I "put on my face" because he knows I'm doing it special for him - if I did it all the time it would be out of character and not so special.

    Just a side note -- the big white powdered wigs apparently came into fashion to hide signs of syphilis. Smile

  7. scfr Says:

    Clear polish can be done easily by yourself and can be very classy ... think of women like Cate Blanchett. And the best part is that you can use non-toxic polish and remover instead of the standard salon toxic mix and DIY at home while doing something like watching a DVD with hubby and son.

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