Permission To Be Me

Rainbow colored nails
Photo Source: D. Sharon Pruitt | Pink Sherbert Photography. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A friend posted recently on her Facebook page asking the advice of friends regarding what color her nails should be painted as she is ready to birth her second child. She posted a picture of a bottle of nail polish called “marsala” and claimed that she loved it but was worried it was too “fall-ish.” She wanted the perfect color to be immortalized in her birth photos and was seeking some fashion help.

And then the floodgate of opinionated commenters gushed forth. Apparently “marsala” really IS too fall-ish. Some advocated for a more subdued nude color so as to not distract from the baby in the photos. Others shouted that the orange-based “Endurance Race to the Finish” and the even orange-er “No Stopping Me Now” perfectly layered would be the THE color for her birth-pool, home birth hands. My point here isn’t to discuss the outlandish names of nail polish colors (and seriously, whose job is to name them?), but what drives us to always seek the opinion of others? Why are we drawn to what others think and base our actions on those outsider opinions?

I wrote as much as I threw my two cents into the frenzied nail color ring: If Marsala makes you happy, then boldly go into your too-fall brownish-red for the beautiful birth of baby #2.

But it’s not that easy, is it? Most of us, most of the time, feel the need to check in with those we love and respect and ask for their opinion. It acts as a gut check to validate if our feelings are what is considered normal or ok. My friend wasn’t just asking about what nail color she should wear for her homebirth, she was asking for permission to talk about her birth. She was asking for support on such a huge day in her and her new baby’s life.

And you know what’s funny—after I quietly judged most of the commenters for their overly insistent jockeying for their color of choice? Not ten minutes later I posted to the same group of friends asking exactly how short I should cut my hair. I knew that I was going to go into my stylist’s salon and tell him the same thing I always tell him when I want short hair, “I want it short and I want it to look good.” I knew that I was going to trust him implicitly as he clearly has more style than I ever will (I am, at times, aptly described as frumpy). I knew already that I can rock a short haircut. But I posed the question because I wanted a show of support knowing people cared about me and my daily life. I asked for the opinion of others because I wanted to know I had their buy-in on me being me. And you know what else? I’m ok with asking for that kind of support. And yes, my new short haircut does indeed look fabulous and my friend painted her nails a nice shade of mint and it was the perfect choice.