I am menstruating, so nail polish obviously.

If you’re unfamiliar with this little routine (since it’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this) long story short(ened): the majority of Muslims believe that one cannot perform the ablution ritual before prayers with nail polish on her fingernails because the polish creates a barrier between her nails and the water, thus rendering the cleansing ritual incomplete. However, when a woman is menstruating, she is not required to pray, and so there is no need for her to refrain from wearing nail polish. Unfortunately (and unIslamically) menstruating women are culturally viewed as shameful and unclean, and so there is supposedly some kind of element of shame in “advertising” that we are menstruating by wearing nail polish.

Which of course compels me to wear nail polish when I’m menstruating, because LOL I can do it and cis men can’t. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m a woman, even when it’s painful. (If you want the longer explanation of the attitudes in the Muslim community toward menstruating women, can read about them here.)

My nails this week are pastel, although I am usually not fond of wearing pastel colors. It’s a varnish called “lilacism” but it should really be called “lavenderism” because the undertone of the blue is lavender, not lilac. (Lavender has a blue base; lilac has a pink base.) It’s actually kind of grown on me; I find it sort of cute in a really grotesque way:

I’ve been thinking a lot about participation in what has been regarded as “feminine culture” and what that means—both in terms of the boundaries established by patriarchy to limit femininity, and in terms of the defense mechanisms emerged to survive those limits. While I’ve written about modesty quite recently, I’d also like to examine why we perform femininity the way we do, and why we comply with certain defining or limiting systems.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that since I’ve already ventured past the dictations of what is acceptable to wear according to how I look (pale colors like this blue are said to be unsuited for the skintones of women like me—more on this later, possibly) I thought I might as well veer off one of my most staple looks and go with a lipstick that is *gasp*! other than red. So I bring you… pink.

I am also wearing bright eyeshadow with bold lips, which supposedly no woman is supposed to do EVER. I hear because it makes us look like whores? If I want to look like a whore then DAMMIT I WILL LOOK LIKE A WHORE. (What exactly is wrong with looking like a whore? I have nothing against sex workers anyway. Just their “clients.”)

In case you’re wondering if I deliberately posed with the fish face, the answer is ‘no.’ This was snapped just as I realized I’d forgotten something. Yes, that is my =O face.

The necklace I am wearing, which you can get just a glimpse of there, is a locket from Khadeeja, a gift that I absolutely love. I’ve always wanted one exactly like it.

The best kind of performance of femininity: the kind that symbolizes a strong friendship.

10 thoughts on “I am menstruating, so nail polish obviously.

  1. well in the part of the world where i live, i.e. Pakistan, we Muslim women do wear nail polish/varnish/colour when we are menstruating and otherwise as well. And LOTS and LOTS of other women i know do too.

    And about bold colours, this is the very FIRST time i have ever heard that the combination makes you look like a whore- nonclassy maybe, but definitely not a whore. I always have been made to believe that a mix of bold eyes and bold lips is just too much for the eyes to take and looks tacky. To each their own though.

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  2. Soliste

    Nahida, your eyes look so beautiful! I don’t mean the eyeshadow, which is also beautiful, but your eyes themselves… they have such a mysterious look to them

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  5. Aaliya

    I don’t believe that nail varnish should be banned because it prevents wudu. Have you heard of the sock rule? If you do wudu and then put on your socks you do not need to take off your socks for the next time you do wudu. Wouldn’t nail varnish work similarly?

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      1. Aaliya

        I’m not really sure! I was brought up with this rule and when researching into it, found it legit. I regard nail varnish in the same sense and so I wear it even when not menstruating.

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