Nail art has long been a significant form of expression in Black and Brown communities. Whether short, long, coffin-shaped, or almond-shaped, it serves as a powerful canvas through which many highlight the beauty of their culture – one fingernail at a time.
From the world of sports to the music industry, dynamic manicures have consistently made a mark. Florence Griffith Joyner’s iconic nails are as unforgettable as her world records, and ‘extendo’ nails have been proudly flaunted by numerous female emcees, further solidifying their place in cultural expression.
Now, let’s delve into the unique and vibrant realm of Chicano nail culture.
With over 10 million views on the ‘chicano culture nails’ hashtag on TikTok, users show off their designs and have created a robust digital space, fostering a sense of community and solidarity, by offering thousands of tutorials showing off the intricate and precise process, long inspired by the rich history they originate from.
Deeply rooted in history for many Mexican-Americans, nail art extends past simple colors. Including several cultural motifs like sugar skulls (calaveras), commonly seen throughout imagery to honour the past on Día de los Muertos (Day of the dead), the Virgin of Guadalupe, photo decals to celebrate the late Tejano star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez and Aztec motifs, their nails tell an important story which honors the past and celebrates the future.
Clearly setting many trends, the influence of Chicano culture on nail art has always been prevalent throughout popular culture and has been used as a vehicle to highlight political issues, albeit some designs may be viewed as controversial, nail artists get detailed as possible to communicate a message or appreciation.
Never hesitant to make bold and vibrant statements, numerous nail artists and patrons who frequent salons, adorning their nails with Chicano nail art, emphasize the significance of femininity and empowerment.
To many, going to the nail salon has been viewed as a rite of passage, for nail enthusiasts seeking Chicano nail art, it’s a way to honor their heritage.