I have never given birth-nor plan to do so anytime soon-but feel quite confident that when the day comes for me to push a cruise missile out of the barrel of a shotgun, I'm not going to be too worried about how my toenails look. But apparently, some women are.
The latest in you've-got-to-be-kidding-me trends finds expectant mothers primping for their due dates like high schoolers preparing for prom night. In a brief profile of moms-to-be, the New York Post reports that more pregnant women are spending the days and weeks leading up to their delivery date getting everything from basic manis/pedis, to Brazilian bikini waxes, hair styling and blowouts-anything to guarantee they'll look their best when the baby's head starts crowning. In some cases, vanity goes so far as to trump labor. One profiled woman got a Brazilian wax while dilated and headed straight to the hospital from the salon. Another went for the full package on the morning of her delivery-hair, manicure, pedicure-all after contractions had already begun.
While the article's author claims that such self-absorption is understandable given the extreme vulnerability that accompanies giving birth, to me it seems more like narcissism run amok. Sure, lying spread eagle on a delivery table while sweat pools over your body and your face turns bright red from huffing and puffing your way through contractions is no one's idea of a comfortable situation, but it comes with the territory. You are literally pushing new life into the world-it's okay for your hair to be flat and tangled. And although I have no experience with the process, I'd bet decent money that in the 200,000-plus years that humans have been giving birth, no one's ever said, "Man it was gross when the amniotic fluid came rushing out! And did you notice that her toenails were unpolished?"
Having a baby is arguably the most significant moment of a woman's life, a day that will be forever ingrained in her memory. But it is not a wedding, a bat mitzvah, or even a graduation. There's no expectation of beauty. No formal dress code. If anything, it is one of the few times when a woman is allowed to look tired, haggard and all out hellish. The fact that we're now taking one of the most natural experiences in human life and forcing it to conform to unrealistic and all too pervasive standards of beauty deeply disturbs me. The increased number of planned C-sections, rapid post-pregnancy weight loss and now pre-delivery primping all point to one troubling reality: we value beauty over life. As women, we're increasingly willing to subject ourselves to more and more painful and often dangerous procedures, all in the pursuit of attractiveness.
And while it's true that a pedicure or a new haircut hardly constitute dangerous procedures, anything that's done to a woman's body while she's pregnant can have unexpected effects; pregnancy hormones make everything a bit of a mystery.
Besides, it's just so unnecessary, so ridiculously vain. I don't know when I'll have children, or if I ever will. But I sure hope that if and when that day comes, my mindset is nothing like Nicolle Cannone's, who told the Post, "at least when I look back at the pictures of me holding my baby I can say-other than how beautiful my son is-Oh, what a damn good manicure that is!" If I ever have a baby, I want my fingernails to be the furthest thing from my mind.