A Noblewoman and her Nails
The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368-1644 (that’s 276 years for all my fellow math-not-liking CreCommers). This came after the fall of the Mongol Empire led Yuan Dynasty, but that’s neither here nor there.
It wasn’t long before specific cosmetic trends began emerging during the Ming Dynasty- many which still exist today. Tracing and filling in eyebrows, painting your lips bright red, colouring your cheeks, and applying powder foundation were all parts of a typical morning routine (according to the History of Skincare, Part 5).
It was around the same time that noblewomen began wearing long, artificial nails as a status symbol, indicating that they did not have to do manual labor like the commoners.
Actually, before that, around 600 B.C., Noblemen and women of China’s Chou Dynasty would sprinkle gold and silver dust on their fingernails. And before that, around 5000-3000 B.C., women in Egypt would take the time to dye their fingertips with henna. This was how they flaunted their social status, and amped up their sex appeal.
I read about the history of artificial nails while an esthetician took a dense sponge to the bottom of my feet. As I squirmed around, giggling like a stupid child at the tickling sensation, Cara Dveris sat on the opposite side of the nail studio. Her gels were chipped, and before dinner, she asked if we could get our nails done. I decided on obnoxiously neon coral for my toes.
Cara decided on bright red claws.
Cara Dveris is a 20-year-old University of Manitoba student that I met while in high school. She had made her way from Gray Academy to the whimsical world of Balmoral Hall, and was accepted into our clique with open kilts. The first conversation I had with Cara was about roadkill, and our relationship blossomed from there (anyone who knows me in real life knows my love of all things morbid. I mean that in the best way possible.)
Over the time I have known Cara, I’ve learned about her quirks, her likes and dislikes, her love of makeup, her enthusiasm for cars, her passion for Dexter, and her obsession with bunnies. Unfortunately, I also learned that Cara had struggled for years with body acceptance issues.
I learned that she was embarrassed of the skin she was in, that she was uncomfortable with her size, and that the support she received from her home life wasn’t always, well… Supportive.
Like many young women, Cara has tried for years to feel comfortable with her body. She tries her best, but is still working on herself day to day. With the help of friends, a little lipstick, and a lot of self reflection, she continues to try and love herself. This is how Cara Dveris tries to be body positive.
“In one word, my childhood was complicated, but whose wasn’t? I dealt with a lot of things growing up that kids shouldn’t have to deal with. I became an adult when I was still wearing my mermaid outfit around the house.
Kids are really impressionable, and they notice what you do, and pick up on the little things. They don’t have an established personality yet, so they observe, and take tidbits from the people around them to form themselves. There are so many psychological theories out there about why people are a certain way. Everything from past experiences, the way that you were treated as a child, and even the way you sleep says something about you!
I don’t plan on being a parent myself (unless you count pets) because I am aware of the huge impact that a parent can have on their child. I can’t imagine being the root of a child’s shortcomings or sadness. I don’t want to mess up a kid the way I was messed up.
You start to feel comfortable as the victim after a while. I think that’s one of the biggest things that has stuck with me, and it changes everything. Work, school, friendships, relationships… I take everything personally, and I apologize for things that aren’t even my fault. I blame myself for things that I had no control over. I wish there had been someone to stand up for me as a kid. I didn’t know I was allowed to stand up for myself; especially to a parent.
I don’t have family values or morals. I never have. My friends are my family, and I am perfectly okay with that. You have to find people to love and support you for who you are, and if you can’t find those people within family, then you have to find those people elsewhere.
Body positivity to me means changing the way you view yourself and others. Making your own definition of what it is to be beautiful, and being comfortable in your own skin instead of trying to crawl out of it.
I think confidence is something that has to be worked on every second of every day… It’s a state of mind that is sometimes a struggle to achieve. I do little things to help myself stay confident. I wear makeup, I like to have my nails perfectly painted, my hair perfectly done, and to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing. I like to define it as feeling stable. If I were to go out with my hair in a bun, wearing sweat pants on, with no make up, I wouldn’t feel stable. I would feel nervous, self-conscious, and judged by everyone… Even if absolutely no one is judging me. That’s just the way I am, and I have learned to accept it.
I don’t like wearing my hair up, I like wearing black, I like to wear mismatched socks to counterbalance my colour-matched outfits and accessories, and I like when my bra and underwear are the same colour. I think you get to a point where you stop caring about what other people think of your routines and “isms”. I like doing certain things to make me happy, and that’s just how I am. It helps me get through my day. I don’t think this makes me a shallow person. I feel like my “beauty” routines are not done to impress others, but to impress myself, to accept myself, and to feel confident.
Friends are another huge part of my confidence, and having a positive support system around you can change everything. I’m lucky enough to have some of the most supportive and best friends in the world.
How do I overcome negativity? I don’t. It surrounds me. I always come home to it. My motto has always been to appreciate the little things. I really like pens. When I’m writing with a good pen, it honestly makes me feel good. People at work think I’m a crazy pen hoarder, but it makes me happy: so who the hell cares?
Pets also help. They are the greatest investment in the world. They don’t judge you, they look at you with love, they’re loyal, and they don’t know how hard life can be sometimes; they just kiss you, and expect nothing in return except attention, food, and to be pet. Seeing my bunny look up and run to the front of his cage when I come into my room instantly puts a smile on my face. He loves me for me, even if when I’m wearing sweat pants.
Friends also help negativity. Having a friend that offers to bring you soup when you’re sick, or to come over when you’re having a bad day, or even to just listen to you when you need to talk about something is the most amazing thing. I think that people forget how much they influence others; how one act of kindness, one text message, or even one smile can make a world of difference.
TIPS TIPS TIPS:
If I could offer some tips for girls with small eyes, wearing mascara without eye liner opens up your eyes a lot more, black makes things appear smaller, so try a lighter eye shadow and just mascara. If you wear chapstick with beeswax under your lipstick/lipgloss, it will stay on longer. Oh, and use primer.
But I think a smile is the best make up.”
Despite the roadblocks she’s faced and her body image issues, Cara still looks for ways to be the happiest version of herself. Whether it’s having full makeup, the perfect outfit, a pocket full of pens, or bright red royal claws, Cara continues to search for what will make her happy and body positive.