Actress Laverne Cox is celebrated for being the first openly trans celebrity to achieve a number of milestones (including becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category and to be featured on the cover of Time). As an LGBTQ advocate, Cox has encouraged all of us to bring nuance and empathy to conversations about issues facing the transgender community. Moreover, Cox’s highly personalized brand of feminine beauty illustrates that women of all varieties can embrace their femininity via their own style while still being super fierce heroines of their own lives.
It’s no surprise then than Cox is also an advocate of self-love and self-care. One of the ways she performs self-love is through her phenomenal manicures. Although nail polish may seem rather frivolous to the uninitiated, for Cox (and many mani lovers), beautiful nails have a deeper meaning. As Cox explains, on point nails are about expressing her feminine identity and celebrating what makes her unique:
“I started #TransIsBeautiful on social media to empower trans people to embrace the things that make them beautifully trans,” she told InStyle. “For me, it’s my deep voice and big hands. It’s an ongoing process. Getting my nails done is part of practicing self-love.”
She adds that rocking a pretty mani is one of the easiest ways to feel glamorous. “You have to look in the mirror to see your hair and makeup. With nails you can look down and see sparkles. That makes me happy.” Plus, a manicure is a lot more low maintenance than some of the other ways to flaunt your girly side: “My go-to red-carpet nail polish is sparkly, because it’s like jewelry. I love diamonds, don’t get me wrong! But it’s stressful to be wearing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. I’m scared I’ll lose it. Glitter nail polish is stand in for me.”
As all mani junkies know, of course, a good manicure is about more than polish, glittery or otherwise—it’s also about shape. Cox identifies most strongly with the ultra-glam stiletto shape. “I played a lawyer on TV last year, and I was going more square. When I was done filming, I was like, ‘I want my stiletto nails back! I want my claws!’”
Cox recently collaborated with cruelty-free nail polish brand ORLY to create a line of super glam polishes. The collection is aptly named “Celebrate Yourself.” True to Cox’s signature mani style, all six shades are either metallic or sparkly. Seriously—these are the colors you wear to that swanky NYE party! Of course, there is no shortage of cruelty-free, vegan nail polishes out there! Check out these brands to find your signature shade in a 5-free formula.
Although my background is quite a bit different from Cox’s, I find her love of manicures quite relatable. I attended a private prep school on scholarship and discovered that doing my own nails was my way to express my femininity without breaking the bank. A good manicure, even if I did it myself, was my own little slice of luxury. Roughly a decade later, I still turn to nail polish to feel like my best self. Now, as a mother of a two-month-old, I don’t have much time for my old hobbies—but you better believe I sneak in a mani here and there! I may have crusted spit up in my hair, buy my signature pale pink polish makes me feel like although my identity has evolved quite a bit in the last year, I’m still me–and me is beautiful and strong 😉
Do you have a signature manicure like Laverne Cox? What beauty ritual makes you feel most beautiful?
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Photo: Laverne Cox via Instagram