Short fingernails? I’m a nail spa virgin

Short fingernails – I love the sense of feeling in my fingertips

I have a confession – I have short fingernails and I’ve never been to a nail bar. This might sound unfeasible to some of you younger gals but nails were not a ‘thing’ when I was a lass. This post is about how I’ve managed to reach my fifties without the help of a nail technician.

I’ve often wished that my nails were a classic filbert shape. If I’d been blessed with naturally pretty nails I would, no doubt, have wanted to show them off. I could have spent the greater part of my life pushing back my cuticles. Nature gave me nails which are thin and misshapen; some curl and some flare outwards as they grow. As a result, while I don’t bite or try to hide them, I don’t draw attention to them either. Plus I have a love of gardening and a passion for cleaning which are both bywords for nail abuse. I keep mine neatly trimmed with nail scissors and leave it at that.

I have a love of gardening and a passion for cleaning which are both bywords for nail abuse.

Every two weeks I visit my mother for the weekend; she is in a care home. One of the rituals I perform is to trim her nails with clippers she keeps in her gold wallet manicure set. She has the same strong and nicely-shaped nails as her sisters. The nail corners need to be filed to take away the sharp edges but I don’t paint them because this hides the dirt that accumulates beneath. I spend more time on my mother’s nails than I do my own. If I’d inherited fingernails through my mother’s family things might have been very different.

I may want better nails but I don’t lust after long fingernails. I’m far too practical. I can admire a well-groomed hand and a neat french manicure but very long nails make me shudder. I’ve considered this and come up with 10 reasons why I prefer short fingernails:

  1. Claws. Deep down I associate long nails with the wicked witch in fairy tales. There is always the threat that she will use her talons to scratch out the eyes of her victims.
  2. Grace. Being impatient I hate the awkward, exaggerated and slow-motion hand movements that are the result of women no longer in touch with their fingertips. I once had to watch for ten minutes as a small bottle of perfume was gift wrapped in front of me. Each fold was negotiated with the clumsiness of a four year old and the sellotape dispenser was treated with a caution normally reserved for a circular saw. Useless.
  3. Agility. Short fingernails easily negotiate everyday tasks: washing dishes, kneading bread, threading a needle, changing a tyre, wiping a bottom.
  4. Equality. As a feminist I want to show off everything I CAN do – not purposely limit my dexterity.
  5. Hygiene. Short nails are easier to keep clean and I hate dirty fingernails. Just what lurks under all that nail polish?
  6. Time. I can barely find the time to remove my mascara before bed so how would I find time to maintain a proper manicure?
  7. Touch. I love the sense of feeling in my fingertips. The pleasure of tickling the silky soft fur behind my dog’s ears is too good to give up.
  8. Work. I spend my life on a keyboard or holding a pen. As a designer I want as much control over my fingers as possible without a bit of nail, or acrylic, getting in the way.
  9. Self defence. Try making a fist. In the unlikely event you need to punch someone it’s gonna be a whole lot easier with short fingernails.
  10. Preservation. Have you seen the mess acrylic nails can make of your real nails? Mine are weak and flaky enough thanks.



My nails are simply trimmed short with a pair of nail scissors. The knuckle on my forefinger bulges after I locked my keys in a hire car and cut my hand when I broke the window to get my dog out. The lovely crystal ring is by Lalique.


If you have a ‘virgin’ story to share please tell us about it in the comments below. Apologies to anyone offended by pictures of my work-a-day hands!

Avril x