Nail Polish Gets my Claws!

As I strolled along the nail polish aisle in *insert your favorite box store here*, I was immediately interested in a lovely purple lacquer.  It was sparkly and shiny and I was in need of a polish pick-me-up, so I grabbed it.  As soon as I turned the bottle on its end to read the name of the color, I was forced to pause. The color was called: “No Means No”.  Hm…here, this lovely bottle of purple nail polish was working to end sexual violence…right?  At first, I was excited and my mind was spinning with the possibility that the makeup industry was taking a stance on sexual assault and I was ready to offer my support.

My excitement chipped away like the cheap paint I was holding as I read the other color names in the line: “Strapless”, “French Kiss”, “Cheatin”, “Don’t You Wish”, “Strip Tease”, and my personal favorite “Nasty Girl”.  I became furious in the makeup aisle.  I began huffing and puffing, ready to blow the whole place down.  What kind of message are we sending individuals who wear nail polish (women and young girls specifically)?  What kind of message are we reinforcing when we buy nail polish with such sexist and victim-blaming names?  Because essentially, dear reader, Pure Ice blames victims of sexual assault.  “No Means No” is a fun new catch phrase, a label for a nail polish, not a firm message against sexual violence.

Tell me, Pure Ice Nail Polish, what are you going for with these polish titles?  First, they tell me nothing of your product.  What part of this pretty baby pink color says “Nasty Girl”?   Second, you reinforce the idea that because I like to feel pretty (for myself) in my sparkly, lacquered nails that I am essentially a “tease” or “french kiss”.  When you pair the phrase “No Means No” with “Nasty Girl”, you send the message that no does not mean no.  No becomes: I am a flirt, try harder; because I winked, we should have sex.

Now I sit here catching my breath from the rage that has built inside me.  And I begin to wonder if people think I’m crazy.  After all Liz, it’s just a color name on a cheap bottle of crappy nail polish, what’s the big deal?  To me, the big deal is a phrase that should be taken with the utmost seriousness has been trivialized into a flirtation, a joke, the horrifying notion that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it.

And darn it, that is criminal!  Needless to say, the polishes went back on the shelf (rather firmly), and I left sans-lacquer.  But I certainly won’t be giving my money to a corporation who thinks “No Means No” should be a nail polish color.  Instead, my money will be going to ACCESS, where No DOES mean No!

And don’t even get me STARTED on Justin Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” nail polish collection.  *insert extreme sarcasm here*  Because the real tragedy is a single girl!

Liz Steinborn is an Equity and Social Justice Educator at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and can be reached at eas123@iastate.edu or (515)294-4154.

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About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on March 10, 2011, in Activism, End Violence Now, Feminism, Sexism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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