--red to be exact.
The color red makes us stop and take notice. It represents passion and all that passion describes love, lust, sex, energy, blood, and anger. And so we can be certain our guest today wants us to stop and take notice as she expresses repetitively in
I Shall Paint My Nails Red.
by Carole Satyamurti
Because of a bit of color is a public service.
Because I am proud of my hands.
Because it will remind me I’m a woman.
Because I will look like a survivor.
Because I can admire them in the mirror.
Because my daughter will say ugh.
Because my lover will be surprised.
Because it is quicker than dyeing my hair.
Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.
Because it is reversible.
Every time I paint my nails (any color) I think of Satyamurti’s poem, I Shall Paint My Nails Red. It is an act I hardly have time for and so my nails are rarely painted; however, I do like when they are coated in a color of my choosing. In lieu of wearing my own writing around as clothing, it is an outward form of expression. I feel put together, “polished.” I feel as if I have treated myself a bit. It says, in a way, ‘look I took some extra moments and did something just for myself.’
I don’t ever go to nail salons and I use only an instant dry polish, but I still allow myself those few moments of focus. I have to have a steady hand and a patient approach before I am able to jump back into all my roles. If I start back too soon, the nails are smudged and all is ruined. I have to say no to do anything until the nails are dry. It is a meditative practice in a way. I must be in the moment and it must be all about me for that moment.
As a woman who plays many roles, (reference my author’s notes), like so many women, it seems defiant. How can I be so selfish?
And this I believe is why the speaker in Satyamurti’s poem starts ever line with “Because.” She is explaining this defiance, “Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.” She seems to be trying hard to stake her claim that she is worthy of this action, so much so, that I cannot help to feel she is trying to convince no one other than herself. And by the last line of the poem, I feel she has caved, “Because it is reversible.” She is trying to convince everyone else when, really, she has not convinced herself.
This makes me think of the L’Oreal’s slogan, “Because You're Worth It” tweaked over the years to “Because We're Worth It.” I know the approach is to raise women’s self-esteem. Is it a rally to all women to…what…waste the time and money to try to make themselves look like Penelope Cruz? Hmm. It’s quite contradictory. The real truth, however, is that all the roles we play as women should make us too worthy to be pandered to like that. Though, I do get the intent. We do so much for so many, that it is a shame that we have to be reminded to care for ourselves.
When we do, we feel guilty. Then we are mad that we feel guilty. Then we may even cast outward blame at everyone else that we cannot seem to find a bloody moment to ourselves. Can we just have a MOMENT?
The answer should always be yes. BECAUSE we should be the only one answering this question. We control so much for everyone else, we can control this too.
Who we truly are can get buried beneath everyone else’s needs. We need to take the time for ourselves without apology and love ourselves as we do everyone else.
And so I did paint my nails not red but Lincoln Park After Dark while writing this blog today “Because it will remind me I’m a woman” and I’m not sorry.