After getting shivved in the shins last night by the boyfriend's giant toenail, I've decided it really needs to be said: Clip your goddamn toenails, people!

Every visit I make to my manicurist ($15 for a pedicure and manicure-the place doesn't exactly look spotless, but I might be able to deal with some gangrene creeping up my legs for 15 bucks), I spot these teenaged girls and grown women who seem to believe that growing out their toenails to an ungodly length, having them filed into a freakishly unnatural square shape, and then getting them painted in fluorescent colors is attractive.

Turquoise polish, airbrushed sunsets and sparkly rhinestones I can deal with, but it's the French-tipped pedicures that leave me with this disquieting feeling of unease festering in my stomach.

Sounds dramatic, right? But it's the same sensation I experience when I ogle something with too many miniscule dots in one place for too long—ants milling out of a destroyed nest; all that crap your physiology professor made you sketch after staring into a microscope at a slide full of an unnerving grouping of globular cells; the mysterious black mold that calls that 5-week-old orange sitting in your fruit bowl home.

Toenails shouldn't look like your fingernails. Long, manicured toenails begin to resemble Lee Press-Ons after a while and, worse, like you actually had some acrylics perma-glued to your toes.

French manicures (an idea that really did originate in Paris) are characterized by a usually translucent rose- or nude-colored base with stark, white-arched tips, supposedly resembling a natural nail-though the tips are usually painted on much wider than on your real nails, which pretty much defeats the very idea of the ideal natural nail anyway.

Pair that with too-long toenails (nails that visibly stretch past your toe tips), and you get a creepy portrait of feet that look like hands. It's weird, okay? Look at them more carefully next time.

When it comes to nails, natural seems the way to go. Clear polish or hues of red really do look best—there's a good reason why that Revlon red is always sold out at your local Target. Short, trimmed nails all around are simply more sophisticated. Most European women—even the snootiest of fashion-industry snoots—usually opt for the au naturel look. During a week-long stay in France, I spotted only one storefront manicurist, and I encountered zero women with polished nails. It's tough constantly changing colors so no clashing occurs, anyway. And even wearing jewelry on painted nails tends to lean toward the trashier side of things.

And, if anything, you'll be able to reduce the risk of accidental shin shankings.


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