By Michelle Lu Tian

Growing up, I would say I considered myself to be a “girly girl.” But I don’t think that term sends the right message. It’s not like I force myself to wear dresses all the time with a full face of makeup. It just means that I feel the most confident in ways that are stereotypically “girly.” That includes dressing up, doing my hair and so on. 

A few weeks ago, I discovered something that made me feel the most confident I’ve ever felt: acrylic nails. 

I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal and it really isn’t. It’s a very simple process and so many girls — especially teenagers — are obsessed with the trend. I didn’t understand the hype until a few weeks ago. To me, they just looked like painted nails. So what? But now, I know that acrylics are so much more than that. 

When I think of long, elegant nails, a very specific image pops in my head. I think of someone who is confident; someone who has something to show off to the rest of the world. I think of grace, poise and style. I associate long nails with an ideal person in my mind, which motivates me to bring that confident person to life. 

To me, someone who is proud and confident of their looks radiates beauty in every way. And I want to be able to follow in those footsteps. 

This isn’t to say that natural beauty is not beautiful. It just made me realize that doing something as small as getting acrylics can completely enhance one’s self confidence. 

Acrylic nails also give you a chance to show off a subtle aspect of your personality to the world. Whichever color you pick has a meaning, whether that meaning is because pink is your favorite color or because it represents your mood. If you feel like you can own your personality and show it to the world, why not let it be something you’re proud of as well? 

Another unexpected bonus of acrylics is that simple actions — like pointing at my order on the menu or handing a pencil to someone — generate a lot of comments like, “Oh, my God, your nails are so cute!” Simple compliments like those make my day. 

I don’t need validation to know that I’m killing the fashion game, but it’s always great knowing that other people notice and appreciate the same parts of yourself that you’re also proud of. 

But you know what? You do you. If you want to go out there with sweatpants and hair done in a messy bun, by all means, go out there and own it. Do what makes you feel good. Do what makes you feel confident. For me, that’s getting acrylic nails. For the person next to me…who knows?

It’s up to you to decide how you want to slay it.