DISCLAIMER: This post is about feet. I have a deep respect for those with toe trepidations, so please stop reading here if you’re one of those anti-feet people.

Maybe it’s because I’m a June baby (or just a vitamin D junkie), but I always look forward to summertime, and this year, I’ve been jonesing for sunny skies since before the astute term “Chiberia” was used to liken the polar vortex in Chicago to Siberia.

Winter was no joke.
Winter was no joke.

For months I’ve been observing the five-day weather forecast, waiting to vengefully stow away all my bulky winter paraphernalia. I’ve ached to recall what it feels like to wear only one shirt. I’ve longed to breathe in the tantalizing aroma of turkey burgers and chicken breasts being cooked to salmonella-free levels on the grill. Alas, as spring transitions to summer, there’s one last hurdle that separates me from the rainbow flip-flop wall at Old Navy…

My disgusting winter toenails.

Last week the temperature rose to a sandal-appropriate level. Finally, I could unleash my feet from the socked time-out of my Nikes and the stink chamber that is every pair of flats I own! On the layer of dirty laundry coating my bedroom floor, I got down on my hands and knees and defeated worthy foes including The Overgrown Dust Bunny of Shame and The Spider That Got Away That One Time to free a pair of sandals from their seasonal exile under my bed. I immediately put them on my feet, excited to turn the main floor of my house into a dog toy booby-trapped runway, when I recoiled in horror at the sight of my winter toes.

When did my second toenail get so long? Does my big toe always look like this??? There appears to be trace amounts of nail polish… There are probably at least three additional layers underneath it, too. Who really has time to scrub OPI’s formidable Pulled Out a Plum nail polish off of their toes? How do you know when you have bunion? I would know if this is a bunion, right? Let’s see how my heel feels—OKAY. That’s not soft and tender.

I’ve been so engrossed in all my other efforts to prepare for summer (sunglasses reconnaissance, sunscreen inventory, etc.), that I’ve completely overlooked the fact I still have winter feet.

Now, before you tell me it doesn’t matter what my toenails look like, it’s who I am inside—I know. You probably think everyone should let their toes loose on the world, sock fuzz, fungus, and all. You’re entitled to disregard common courtesy toenail standards, but don’t tell me how to live my life.

My toes don’t always need to be polished and pretty, because I don’t really want any fetishists sniffing around, but when my naked toes are going to be flipping and flopping in fresh air, I want to put my best foot forward, and that involves a cute coral polish on each toe (even the perplexing pinky toenail). In their current state, these little piggies couldn’t even go to the market, let alone take a dip in the pool. If my toenails were simply unpolished or a little longer than recommended, I wouldn’t think twice about flauntin’ ‘em, but we’re talking about six months of toenail neglect here. If I don’t handle this situation soon, I’ll risk losing custody of all my open-toed shoes.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 6.23.56 AM

I know this situation warrants a professional pedicure, but can I, in good conscience, pass the buck of toenail responsibility onto someone else when I have only myself to blame? I may even be too embarrassed to willingly submit myself to the solid fifteen minutes of pumicing I’d surely receive. Is it possible for one be tickled and feel shame at the same time? I suppose I could save face by going to a salon in another city… I have a new empathy for people who skip going to the dentist for 20 years.

At this point, I’m not sure how to proceed, and my fearless embrace of summer hangs in balance. I may take matters into my own hands and bust out the bag of cotton balls and toenail clippers and hope I don’t fashion my pinky toenail into a dagger that’ll stab my legs while I’m sleeping.

On second thought, I think I’ll go to Boston. I think I’ll start it over where no one knows my name (or the status of my toenails)…

Are your toes ready for summer? Do you go out with winter toes? Can you offer my any guidance here?

35 thoughts on “A Case of the Winter Toenails

  1. “Now, before you tell me it doesn’t matter what my toenails look like, it’s who I am inside—I know.” HAHA. it DEFINITELY matters… I don’t care how beautiful your insides are, if you have nastay toenails, I can’t handle you. Although mine are currently a mess…I just keep covering in layers and layers of polish and hoping for the best. I can’t even look down right now, I”m scared of my own feet. Good luck out there!!!

    1. I still haven’t made any progress, though last night I noticed my big toenail actually has a rough edge. I’ve come to the conclusion this is the kind of undertaking I need to save for the weekend. Even if I get a pedicure, I need to do some pre-pedi prep work.

  2. Lol – oh I can relate to your toe woes! I always am embarrassed when I get professional pedicures – but my feet get to the point that they are absolutely necessary!

  3. See, I don’t like wearing sandals or open-toed shoes, so just a coat of polish is enough to get me through the pool, etc.

    So, I am not much help at all 🙂

    1. No open-toed shoes?! Really?!

      I hate covering my feet. I’m one of those people that takes her shoes off immediately when I get home. You’re lucky! Your shoe preferences are saving you some embarrassment.

  4. I completely understand this. I feel the same way about nasty toes, feet, sandals, etc. I have pride! I just clipped all of mine down to help them grow out for polishing. Normally a good clip and file does the trick, but winter is brutal on our feet. Honestly, treat yourself to a pedicure. Go a few times and then do it yourself afterwards for the rest of the summer. You’ll feel better, more confident, and polishing your own toes once or twice a month will save you cash (I almost always polish them myself. It’s relaxing to me since I can do it in front of the TV.). I recommend a good in- shower foot scrub from Freeman (or Victoria’s Secret, if you can find one from them. I don’t know if they still have it. Plus, Freeman’s is inexpensive.) that you can use on a pumice stone. Your feet will be baby soft. Also, cuticle oil on your actual toe nails daily. In a pinch, coconut oil or olive oil will totally do the trick.

    BTW, you never cease to make me laugh. 🙂

    1. I really do just need to bite the bullet and go to the nail salon. It needs to be done. Once they’re back at an appropriate level I can go back to my at-home summer maintenance routine. Though, I must admit, I’m not sure if I’ll be foot scrubbing or using cuticle oil anytime soon. I’m not that dedicated.

      Thanks! 🙂

      1. Treat yourself, you’ll feel better.

        I know not many people will go to my OCD lengths, but I’m also high maintenance most of the time. LOL.

        Have a great holiday weekend! =)

  5. Hahaha. Go to a different city! Don’t let people you may see again know what lurks in the deep! I do my best to give myself a mini pedicure when possible just for maintenance so my boyfriend doesn’t throw up and then I wait until it’s time for sandals before I pay out my ass for a fancy pedi. It’s worth it though.

    Most men, of course, have year-round winter toes. Bastards with their weirdo feet and talons.

    1. Oh goodness, people freak out about feet. I Instagrammed a text conversation with one of my friends about feet, and in it, I admitted I temporarily removed my shoe on the train, and there was outrage. (By outrage, I mean two comments from fellow bloggers that thought I was in the wrong.)

      Feet can be polarizing.

  6. I will take hold of any excuse that gets me into that pedicure chair. I can’t believe this is even a question. There is nothing – NOTHING – that that nail shop lady hasn’t seen. If you could get shoes on, then it’s fine to subject a professional to your feet.

    1. But let me throw a curveball your way…


      Then, my toes technically could be the worst she’s ever seen.

  7. Definitely go to a nail salon in another town, where you are not going to be seen again. That’s my advice…and next winter treat your feet a little nicer, ya nasty girl. 😛

  8. ‘I have a new empathy for people who skip going to the dentist for 20 years.’ Jeez, Katie – your toenails must be bad. I empathise with you, mind you. I couldn’t unleash my feet onto a paid professional either. Money doesn’t forgive everything after all. Thankfully my Scholl electronic roller buffer thing doesn’t have feelings.

    1. I may need to invest in a roller buffer thing. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do, but I need to act fast. Summer waits for no toes.

  9. I agree with the comments about professional pedicurists having seen it all. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, they talk about you once you have left the salon???! If you are really ashamed of your winter feet, you could try a little maintenance on them yourself, before you go to the salon. Either way, please please please do not expose your winter feet to the masses. I’m afraid, as superficial as it might sound, I subscribe to the ‘toes can not be seen in public without a slick of polish, unless you are a man’ way of thinking. Even if it is just a quick one coat of a decent covering polish whilst I get dressed. Bare toenails cause me the same amount of consternation as exposing my bare winter pale, practically blue, legs for the first time. I can’t do it without a little help from the self tan.

    1. I think I will do a little maintenance before I go. Try and scrub off as much of the nail polish as I can. Clip them to a uniform length. Exfoliate a little.

      I completely agree with your preference for polished toes. It just looks like something’s missing when they’re bare, doesn’t it?

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