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Monday, February 3, 2014

Paint Your Nails . . . Manicure Messages

I’ve always admired a pretty hand, and I like to see nails neatly polished.

In case you care, I don’t paint my nails—except for weddings or other very special occasions. (I don’t have any problem with nail polish. I’m just a perfectionist, and I don’t like chipped nails. With my normal routines—which include cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning—my natural nails stay much prettier than they would painted.) So, now you know.

Photo by: stockimages

Recently, I noticed on social media several beautiful manicures. They had a few things in common: one finger—the ring finger—was a different color than the others, and the others were pink. Some of the pictures I saw had rhinestones and swirls and other such pretties. Someone had spent serious time producing those works of art.

I was intrigued. Why is it always the ring finger in a different color? What could that possibly mean—if anything?

I went to my trusty Google search and asked, “meaning of fourth finger painted differently.” Google came through for me, but I was shocked! I got more than I bargained for.

You see, all my friends who had so proudly displayed their new look and gorgeous manicures are Christians. They, I’m sure, have never Googled why their manicurist paints the fourth finger a different color. It’s pretty. Period.

But I did, because I am incurably curious.

Here are the answers I found:
  • The custom of painting the fourth finger a different color began when lesbians* wanted a way to subtly signal other women. It’s called “femme flagging” and basically means “girl likes girls.”
  • It has become a trend. That means that others (meaning people of any persuasion) have caught onto the fad because they think it’s different and interesting.
  • There’s other “finger flagging” as well, with similarly negative messages. You probably don’t want to do the middle finger a different color or paint rainbow nails.


You can do what you like with your nail polish. I believe you have Christian liberty to paint your nails green or yellow or blue or black. (I don’t necessarily prefer those colors myself, you understand; but I’m not twenty anymore, either.) You can accent your thumb with diamonds and your pinky with spots. You can get a French manicure on fingers and toes. You can do red or pink or lavender. You can paint your nails white, red, and blue with stars, or each finger differently. You can paint them any way you want—with faces?

But, you probably wouldn’t want to be in a public place, sending a message you don’t mean.

Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do
(even painting your nails), do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).


*Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 20:13

14 comments:

  1. Así es, hay muchas costumbres que tenemos como cotidianas y no sabemos el verdadero significado. Hay que tener cuidado con lo que hacemos y saber lo que significa para no cometer equivocaciones en lo que hacemos.

    Bendiciones:)

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Tere. God bless you!

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  2. Wow! I never knew this. Thankfully, when I do paint my nails it's all one solid color. My daughters like to add little stickers to their nails, but they like them on all ten LOL. Thanks for the heads up. Good to know!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, it's good to be informed. I was surprised, hence the blog post. I like pretty nails, too!

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  3. I appreciate your article, and as one who tries to stay away from appearing evil, I have learned something today. That being said, I think if we look for the world's explanation of nearly anything we can find some negative meaning behind it. I'm wearing my hair short right now, some would say short like a lesbian's haircut, but I am confident my daily life would prove that assumption wrong. The world can turn the meaning of anything to wickedness. This is the first I have heard of this explanation for the ring finger being painted differently. My daughter had it done for her wedding to emphasize her ring. I thought it was beautiful. As bold as the gay community is these days I find it difficult to believe they would feel the need to use such covert signals.

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    1. You make some very good points, Mrs. H. Thank you for your input. I agree that anyone can go too far, since as you so rightly say, "The world can turn the meaning of anything to wickedness." I honestly thought the ring finger was painted in order to show off a ring or not, as the case might be. I am sure no one took it the wrong way when your daughter chose to emphasize her married status. You make some excellent points, and I appreciate your comment. God bless you!

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  4. Hna, yo he hecho manicuras por mucho tiempo, pero nunca pense que ese seria el significado,pues normalmente se hacia la decoración en el 4ª dedo por ser el que llevaba el anillo de compromiso o de boda y era el que lucia más, pero aqui estamos parta aprender cada dia algo nuevo, muchas gracias por el aporte,bendiciones!

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    1. Sí pues, la verdad es que pensaba lo mismo. Creo que hoy día es muy común este estilo, pero empezó por señalar otra cosa. De todos modos, es bueno saber. Gracias por leer y comentar. ¡Que el Señor te bendiga!

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  5. I don't wear nail polish, either, because as a wife at home, they'd get constantly chipped. Like you said, I'd rather not have them than have them chipped half the time, plus I just don't like the time it takes to paint them all one color, much less have one decorated.

    You're more observant than I am - I had noticed the trend of having one nail decorated differently but hadn't noticed it was the ring finger. Now that I know what you describe here, I probably wouldn't decorate my nails that way if I were inclined to, but I do wonder, too, since it has gotten to be trendy whether it has lost its original meaning.

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    1. Yes, from the response, I think it's a fad. Just interesting to know where it started :o(. Thank you, Barbara, for your comment. God bless!

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  6. I did a search of "meaning of fourth finger painted differently" on two different search engines to see if I could find. I found nothing like what you wrote. I would not be surprised if it is true but could you put a reference for me? Thanks!

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    1. No problem. It was on jezebel.com under finger flagging. It's true that many other places didn't mention the "why." Thank you for your question. God bless you.

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  7. Palm-reading.org shows that the ring finger is the Sun finger. Being that the trend started so visibly in the entertainment world, I suspect there is a bit of a nod to ancient sun worship cultures and the light bringer aspects of so-called mystery teachings.
    However, an episode of "Orange Is the New Black" supports the femme-flagging origins of this tend.
    I just know that internally I am compelled to be suspicious of this trend.
    Thank-you for your article.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Sage. I think a lot of people do this with no thought at all about any meaning. They just want variety. I appreciate your input.

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