When I was growing up, I figured my favorite color was either red or black. It didn’t really matter that I was wearing whatever my mom bought me. I had conceptual favorite colors.
Then, in college, I started dyeing my hair. I moved through the spectrum through various shades of red and pink and pinky-red. I flirted with red-based purples and burgundies. I even had a brief shining moment in the sun where I had a glowing orange streak.
If you’d asked, at the time, what my favorite color was, I’d have said whatever shade of red or pink my hair happened to be at that moment.
Maybe that’s why now my favorite color is blue. My hair has been blue for several years; more and more of the color creeps into my wardrobe. I find myself looking at blue dresses and shirts with interest I had previously only reserved for black.
This is why I expected to own a lot of blue nail polish. But then I sat down and counted it. And, well.
This strikes me as a little extreme. Not a whole lot extreme, not make up hoarding extreme. But maybe wake-up-and-smell-your-blue-nail-polish-problem extreme.
It’s a warning sign, right?
Or is it? I mean, is there anything actually wrong with having forty bottles of blue nail polish? Yeah, it seems like a lot, but I also use these colors. I’d probably have more if I didn’t use these colors – because I’d be buying new colors to actually use. And throwing away nail polish doesn’t make much sense.
Nail polish is relatively cheap and doesn’t take up much space when you think about the individual bottles. My collection, which seems large to me, fills up a plastic bin but since the bin fits neatly under my coffee table, I don’t think much about it. If I were more organized, I’d have it all in this Helmer thing I got at IKEA (which really is perfect for storing nail polish, actually), so I even have a storage solution that is stylish and affordable.
I own four and a half linear feet of blue nail polish. That’s taller than my friend’s seven-year-old daughter. That’s only ten inches shorter than I am, actually. And maybe that’s the kind of comparison that triggers this weird sort of embarrassment I’m feeling. After all, that’s a very specific way of looking at quantity.
There seem to be these undefined lines of acceptability when it comes to all sorts of things. A friend of mine thinks really tall guys are creepy. “Really tall” is defined as taller than her husband. Because she doesn’t want to think about him being creepy tall.
That’s understandable and yet totally arbitrary. Which is why I don’t feel good about calling someone else’s collection “too much” – if you’ve got twenty nail polishes to your nail, my collection probably seems like too much. Which of us is right?
As previously discussed, I get a little obsessive. And the makeup industry totally plays to that urge in people – the constant cycle of new releases and limited editions is designed to create a need in consumers even if no actual need exists. That’s what marketing and branding are for.
And, on top of that, as a fat woman I am all too familiar with the scarcity model – the idea that when I find something I like, I need to buy it at that precise moment because it might never exist again.
There’s an acid washed denim pencil skirt from the first collection Beth Ditto did for Evans that I still regret not ordering. I don’t regret it every single day, but it’s a near thing.
Blue nail polish is experiencing a moment in the sun – it’s hip right now so most brands are releasing shades as part of whatever collection they’re doing. But I have this fear that one day, a year or so from now, blue will be a thing of the fashion past. And I’ll have my little stockpile to keep me happy.
There is a reasonable part of my brain that says this is ridiculous. Which is why I don’t save anything – if you love a thing, you need to use that thing or you might as well not have it. But there’s also a part of my brain that is whispering about how plus-size fishnets are once again impossible to find in my size so my stockpile has gone from ridiculous to actually useful.
It’s not really a matter of specific numbers, I think. “Too much” isn’t defined by a specific number of nail polishes or a dollar amount that you spend. I think “too much” is relative.
If you’re spending the power bill cash on that polish you are lemming, that might be too much. If your relationships are suffering, that might be too much. Basically, if you’re an actual addict, that might be too much. But it’s relative.
And I don’t think I’m there yet.
Maybe in another few linear feet.