Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Ring finger as crafts project

Coughing, fixing the parts of my Napoleon chapter that don't require too much intellectual capacity, jogging incredibly slowly around Genius Circle, and, yes, Pinterest. My observations on the last bit:

-One exciting use of Pinterest is, you get a window into the taste of others generally, and of those who repin/like the things you post in particular. There's a woman in Vilnius whose taste matches up almost precisely with my own. Vilnius! There are others who, when I see the context (prom dresses? hordes of kittens?) into which they've repinned something I'd pinned, make me question my own taste.

-To my fellow fashion-and-style pinners, found via the general "Women's Apparel" section: If you profess to have a interest in fashion/style, and wish to share it with the world, why are your thoughts on the items you pin limited to "want!!!!" or "super-cute!"? It's not that "cute" is a meaningless modifier (although I'm confused about applying it to running sneakers, goth attire...), or that Pinterest is anything other than a glorified wanty list, or that "articulated" has to mean "with text." I'm not saying you need to justify your choices ala your reading list for a qualifying exam, but there should be some articulated something.

-Along the same lines, if your aesthetic preferences just happen to line up with exactly what's out of your price range at Neiman Marcus, your wanty list is less a statement about your style, and more one about your relationship to your personal finances, or your desire to convey status, your insecurities, etc. Yes, Pinterest is an excuse to "get" things you never would in real life, to break free of the practical limitations of cost and comfort, but how many Jimmy Choos must we be asked to admire?

-Along the opposite lines, but reminiscent of the shopping "dieters'" fantasies I read about for this article, it's difficult to get inspired by a pair of sensible plain tennis shoes or unremarkable bootcut jeans. If the mere thought of going to the Old Navy website fills you with adrenaline, perhaps, again, this is about something other than style - a shopping-related neurosis, perhaps, or evidence that you're not really such a fashion-and-style person after all. Don't get me wrong - appealing design is by no means limited to high-end. I myself have made fashion-victimy purchases (ugh, Alexa Chung) from L.L. Bean. But some of these choices seem to be missing the point, and anything that involves dumping the entire Lands End catalogue onto a wanty list would qualify.

-More disturbingly: is it really now done to paint the nail of that finger a different shade than the rest? Does this originate with the addictive treacle that is Cupcakes and Cashmere? "Ever since I got engaged last year, I’ve been wearing glittery polish on my ring finger [.]" When a diamond isn't enough. Women whose income is not via glossy retro-values style-bloggery, do not try this at home. Or, god forbid, at a job interview.

-Most disturbing: despite having evidently banned pro-anorexia postings, the site includes tons of "inspirational" images of thin women, diet advice, dieting mottos, juice "cleanses," etc. Often with a nod to "health." It would seem that these postings are "healthy" if their recipients actually, by some rational measure, could stand to lose some weight/get some more exercise, but are "thinspo" if their audience is 100-lb women shooting for 95, 95-lb women shooting for, I don't know, zero? The audience, at least as much as the content of the advice itself, tells us where to draw the line, but is, alas, unknowable. While there are, as we are constantly reminded by newspaper commenters and other great minds, more overweight/obese/thin-but-sedentary Americans than anorexics/bulimics/exercisaholics, my entirely anecdotal and non-representative sense of these matters is that the women with this obsession tend to be the thin-already-but-never-thin-enough, some of whom would qualify for medical definitions of eating disorders, most of whom would not. The entire "fitness" aspect of Pinterest baffles me.


kei said...

I've painted the ring finger a different color many times, but on both hands. I think I got the idea from nail art--though things depend on the nail tech, the client, in what country one is in, and so on, a lot of designs seem to include dressing up the ring finger per hand rather than every single finger. I think this saves some money & time for salons, but also, I've had a nail tech say, "That's too much to put it on all fingers, I'll just put it on the ring finger." This was before I had any ring on my hand (when I played around with acrylics in college) so it must have been a practice established before 2005 and maybe became disassociated with the engagement and wedding ring finger.

Sometimes I just can't make up my mind about colors, like a particular combo, and paint the ring finger a different color. It can be any finger, but I think I just go with the ring since I've seen it done before.

Phoebe said...


Thanks for that explanation. So reasonable!

I'd only ever heard of this in the Cupcakes and Cashmere context, where the sparkly nail is intended to complement a (massive) diamond engagement ring. When I'd read that post, it seemed shocking to me, I suppose because I'm coming at this from a milieu where the fact that I walk around with not one but two sparkly rings is already viewed as pushing it, feminist- and serious-person-cred-wise. The idea of drawing extra attention to the shiny and the married-ness seemed almost incomprehensible. But also, from a less academia-specific perspective, it seemed like a choice that would rub one's single-but-looking girlfriends the wrong way.

But, to reiterate, I fully approve of ring-fingers-only nail art as you explain it, without the engagement connotations.

Flavia said...

I just saw this for the first time today! (or, I only noticed it today, after having read your post): the receptionist at my high-end-for-WNY salon had both ring fingers painted a different color.

But one of them did have a monstrous rock of an engagement ring on it (along with a wedding band glittering with pave diamonds). So. Jury out.

Phoebe said...


This is the risk one runs with shiny symbolic jewelry. I suppose my stance is the middle ground. I don't think there's much to be gained by avoiding/apologizing for anything beyond a simple gold band. (Often enough, "bling" is an heirloom, and it would have been more wasteful to go out and get a second ring, just to self-present as lower-maintenance.) But I'd also be wary of painting (a) ring finger(s) differently in conjunction with anything Elizabeth Taylor-ish.