Don’t declaw the cat

We all know declawing a cat is a horrific thing to do to them don’t we kittens?

I feel that way about my own claws. And I will tell you why.

Blood heart pendant by Ugly Shyla. 2013.
Blood heart pendant by Ugly Shyla. 2013.

As a little girl I loved all things freaky, you know that if you read my posts on the Goth scene or the Addams family! And part of that was that I liked long painted talons, and always intended to have them when I grew up. I first grew my nails long in high school. Just as a look I liked, I can’t say it had any other serious meaning at that time. Though they did cause  a run-in with a teacher who suggested, in front of the class, that I was stupid because of my long black fingernails! Which is against the rules btw, you can’t use a student’s appearance to belittle them, I could have had him for that one.

When I finished High school at 16 my mum told me she would support my music and art aspirations, as she had for my Dad, but only if I got a ‘trade’ behind me to fall back on. So I went to beauty college.

The head of the beauty department was a dictator.  She would say “it’s my way or the highway” … which only assholes say, am I wrong Kittens? She actually made us grow in our eyebrows (I had previously been rocking an undead Marlene Dietrich look). Then she tweezed them for us. Seriously. Every girl in the class had the same brows because that’s how she liked them! And I had to cut my nails. We were required to have short nails, so we didn’t scratch the clients. They must be unpainted on a Wednesday for facial massage class incase of skin allergies. But painted on Thursdays for manicure class so we could demonstrate that we can perform a manicure without messing up our own polish. I was considering a facial piercing and she said if I got one she would remove it herself! so I dyed my hair pink and purple, which did not go down well LOL.  Needless to say she didn’t like me much.  She drove several of the other girls to quit. Well  I was not going to give her the satisfaction, so I stuck it out and got the qualification.

But, once over, the first thing I did was to shave off my eyebrows and grow back my nails … longer than ever. This was a clear declaration of independence and rebellion! hahaha.

With every millimeter my nails grew it was like I reclaimed myself and grew with them. So  for the longest time I didn’t want to cut them at all. This ended in me having my fingernails at over two inches past the tip of my finger and my thumb nails at  least double that and coiling back on themselves! I could scratch my left wrist with the nail of my left thumb, without turning it. Trying to picture that aren’t you? Yep.  As you can imagine this was a look that got a lot of attention … most of it negative. LOL. I went from an enforced standardized beauty to an extreme that was repellent. And you know what?  it felt good.

After a few years though I no longer needed it, and the hassle of their upkeep was outweighing the joy of having them. Much of the hassle actually comes from other people. Many of you kittens will relate to this one I know … A strange thing happens when you look ‘different’.  Other people suddenly think they have the right to ask you really personal questions they would never ask someone ‘normal’. It is like they can’t imagine why anyone would look like you if it was not to get THEIR attention, and as such you are fair game.

Typical questions/comments include (mostly from males) – “how do you pick your nose?” “how do you wipe your arse?” “how do you put your underwear on?” … mind your own business you sad perv.

(mostly from females) “obvious you don’t do any housework” … not true I do all the housework and work with my hands… “obvious you don’t have kids” … No I don’t but how is that fact any of your business?

Lastly (mostly from lesbians) “no way you can pleasure a woman with those” Oh do you bloody think so? bitch you have no idea… oh yeah and… mind your own business you sad perv.

Truth is, in answer to all those questions, is that when they are a real part of your body you just adjust to them as they grow. Like any thing else. It is no great mystery.

Did I mention that not only was there comments but also hand grabbing? oh yes grab my hand, pull it this way and that, turn them over so you can “see the backs” all while I try to pull away from you. And you are oblivious to my dislike of this, or simply don’t think that you should need consent to manhandle a stranger IF they look ‘weird’. At this point watch me attempt to channel James Bond cool and end up with invader Zim! But I digress, now where was I?

Ah yes…

So I cut them to what passes as short for me – about one inch past the fingertip, though I kept the thumb nails in a box (yeah gross I know). And that’s the way they stayed, or thereabout, for the next few years. A comfortable part of me. Used as tools for almost anything like – picking up hot food from the grill, fishing toast out the toaster, typing, sculpting, scratching where no scratch has gone before and other fun stuff.

Lilly F Lie animating 2008/2009
This was taken in 2008 during the making of my film Jack and Jill. I was sleepy.

Then came the US immigration process.

A year after the pic above was taken I started the process of moving to America.  Another year after that I was at the final stage of the first stage (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I was called on my birthday to go get what they call ‘biometrics’.  Part of that includes fingerprinting.  Now I have already had my fingerprints taken multiple times at every stage of the process so I did not anticipate any issues.  Was I wrong! Right away they said “you have to cut those off”.  Just like that, like it was nothing, like I was nothing.

You would think after all the previous experience I had with how rude these officials are and how they make you feel like something they stepped in, I would have been prepared but I was not  and this time it really hurt. They were stripping me of something that made me, me … like I had not given up enough -my home, family, friends, job, studio, my fucking beautiful country that I hadn’t left because I didn’t want to be there!. And I put up with the unspoken suggestion that I ought to be more grateful and should admit that this country is better than mine. I will say nothing of the sort, nor should I.

All that, I had coped with but this floored me. My fist reaction was “well then I want to go home” and I said it out loud. The official thought I meant back to my house and return later. I meant home to the UK.  At that moment it felt like this was the last straw and I was not willing to give it up just or a green card. And I burst into tears. ME crying in public! I do not do that Kittens! Even in private I manage to keep it to a dignified tear. But this was all out blubbing and I didn’t stop for two days solid!  I felt violated.

Lilly F Lie vintage hair and makeup
This is me putting on my face# It was taken just two months before the ‘snip’

Again I grew them back and again I felt a rebuilding of my power and individuality. I could have bought plastic , but it wouldn’t be the same. In fact it would have been counter productive.

I am in the process of the second stage right now and have recently had biometrics taken again… in case I used different hands the last time, or got a hand transplant or something?. What happens if you don’t have hands?

Anyway I cut them short in advance this time so they had nothing to say to me, and they are already almost grown back. It was easier this time.

While I am comfortable going out and being seen without my makeup – which I used to need to declare my gothic allegiance to one and all. I have nothing to prove anymore so I can go without it and not care – The nails, though, are not the same thing at all. Which may be why I have been lately having an unexpected aggressive response to girls with plastic ‘versions of my nails’ which have just come into fashion…. irrational I know, it’s not like I invented them! I guess I’m just feeling extra protective of them now. I know they will likely have to be cut again in a few months for stage three.

long pointed fingernails. Natural. Lilly F Lie
this is my nails today.

So I shall answer the long nail FAQ here to save time – Don’t know how long it takes for them to get to this length, I don’t time it. I have been wearing them like this or similar for about 16 years. No they do not prevent me from doing anything that I actually do in my life (!!??). No I will not scratch any part of you…unless you are hot, then sure why not. You just get used to it, it would be different if they just appeared overnight but as they grew over time you just adapt naturally. There is no magic trick to stopping them from breaking, sorry. If they break they break, they will grow back, I don’t freak out, sorry again.

My claws cannot be suppressed by anyone. I have had authority issues all my life, I will never let them beat me. My claws can be clipped but they can’t be killed…and I can always wait. -Insert maniacal laugh of your choice-

Scratch their eyes out Kittens. And do have a fabulous day.