The sight of chipped nail polish fills me with existential dread. There’s nothing like a perfect, glossy manicure with a chunk missing to remind you that everything is transient. It’s bad enough that I stopped painting my nails for a full eight months.
But two weeks ago, I gave myself a manicure. I was bored. I knew I was being a little dramatic about my nails. And quite simply, I liked the color of Jin Soon’s Vanity and wanted it on me. Described as a “hot red,” the color made my nails look like polished jewels. I liked the small delight of seeing them glow at me while I did mundane things like type, bring recyclables to the basement, try to cram a large pot into the dishwasher, and open bills. I felt even better when several strangers complimented me on them. Jin Soon Choi, Marc Jacobs’s favorite manicurist, developed the shade; she told me she designed it to look like a red from a classic Hollywood movie, with its balance of blue and red undertones.
Of course, I did get chips — a respectable (and not overly terrifying) ten days later. I’ve since learned that the Japanese have a phrase to describe embracing the beauty of impermanence called mono no aware. Wikipedia explains that’s it’s about “the ephemeral nature of beauty — the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life — knowing that none of it can last.” It applies to cherry-blossom season, photos of young beautiful Marlon Brando, and red nail polish. Nothing can last forever, but, hey, it’s nice while it does.
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