Onward and Upward|Sometimes I feel really down. But then…

I once watched a female food addict demystify her urge to eat everything in sight.

“You know the way we lapse into a zone when we play video games or scroll social media? That’s how it is like when I eat. I can lose myself in the act so much that all my other problems are forgotten,” she confessed to a TV interviewer.

Since I’ve become adept at doing DIY nail art, I know something of the “lapse into a zone” feeling the binge eater referred to, only that in my case, the outcome is a happy one: instead of excess poundage, I get cuticles that are silky smooth and multicoloured nails that are accented with flowers, rhinestones, and flakes of gold.

I’m not sure what that female overeater was trying to run away from, but I sure know what is driving me to seek shelter in that “zone”:  grief over Hong Kong’s political situation, angst over having to make a living a foreign country, fear of the global shockwaves China will send when its financial system finally collapses.

So, into the zone I retreat to whenever the tension gets to me. Since nail polish self-application requires total focus – shake my hand ever so slightly, and the tiniest fleck of excess polish may land on a cuticle – whenever I’m doing my nails, I can mentally shut out everything else. What’s more, the benefits I can milk from each manicure don’t stop when my nails are done. Over the course of a day, every time I catch sight of my nails – how impossibly glossy they look under the elevator light, how long and elegant they make my fingers seem – I get this sharp boost in endorphins. It’s therapy at bargain-basement prices.

This tactic of using appearance upkeep to keep the demons away was once a national policy in the UK. Shortly after the Second World War began, Winston Churchill conferred with British Vogue to launch what would eventually be known as the  “Beauty as Duty” campaign. The theory was that hairstyling and makeup would keep the womenfolk back home in a buoyant mood as much as boost the morale of soldiers visiting home – after all, no man would be happy to see his wife or sweetheart sad and dowdy. So, hair salons were installed in factory compounds; lipstick shades had names like “Victory Red.”

When Hong Kong’s kangaroo court was about to hear the Hong Kong 47 case, I gave myself the licence to go on a nail polish shopping spree. I knew I would be depressed just by following the case, and I figured out the more nail colours I had to choose from, the less mental energy I would have left brooding over my native city. I was right. I once came across this Marilyn Monroe meme with the captions “Sometimes I feel really down. But then I remember I have a nice big round ass and I feel happy again.” Replace “nice big round ass” with “beautiful nails,” and I get a good summing up of the wonders of nail therapy.

Michelle Ng

聯絡方式: michelleng.coach@proton.me
個人網站: https://michellengwritings.com
逢周日英國時間晚上8時 / 周一香港時間凌晨4時刊出




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