Great news! It’s no longer necessary to keep up with the time-honored tradition of hoping your best friends break their backs to get you into a nail salon for a totally inconspicuous manicure before you get engaged. And no, it’s not because the planet is literally on fire and we’re probably just a few short years away from never having to worry about Instagram ever again. It’s because I just accidentally stumbled upon the greatest life hack of all time, and am pleased to report that getting engaged with an ugly manicure is the best thing you can do for your relationship and your personal brand.
Now, I know that every little girl dreams of the day she’ll be able to post a photo of an engagement ring on her hand, writing “I said yes!” as the caption, leaving her loved ones (read: group chats of sorority sisters she no longer speaks to) wondering how she knew to get her claws perfectly groomed for the surprise occasion. But after recently getting engaged with a manicure that was the exact same color as Shrek, I’m here to challenge that standard. If the nail technician isn’t palpably disturbed by the color chip you’ve presented upon sitting in the chair, you’re not doing enough. Hear me out.
You’ll Immediately Have A Unique Instagram Caption
Second only to which engagement ring style you will choose to send your significant other subliminal messages about until they’re finally forced into popping the question, the most important decision you can make as a future bride is the caption you will choose to announce the fact that it’s time for your followers to buckle down for your official shift to wedding content. If you’re hard-pressed to think of something smarter than “Today, I said yes to forever with my best friend,” let your ugly manicure do the heavy lifting. For example, I went with: Do you think there’s anything on Etsy that says “she said, ‘OH MY GOD MY NAILS ARE GREEN, BUT YES!’”
There’s An Easy Answer To The Dreaded ‘Were You Surprised?’ Question
If there’s one thing I’ve quickly learned as a newly-engaged person, it’s that people ask a lot of the same ridiculous questions, one of which being, “Did you know?” While everyone sporting a rock on their left ring finger probably had some inkling that the day would come eventually, it would be truly unhinged to expect your partner to drop down on one knee every time you enter a remotely photo-worthy space. Although I did not wake up thinking, “Might f*ck around and get engaged today,” convincing nosy people that this particular life event caught me by surprise has proven to be difficult.
Luckily, if you have unsightly nails when it happens, you won’t ever have to waste your breath explaining why you just so happened to be having an incredible hair day and wearing an actual bra when you said yes. You can simply point to the messy heap of slime green SNS powder that was slopped upon your nail beds and quip, “Did you see my nails? I obviously wasn’t expecting it.”
You’ll Seem Like A Quirky Risk-Taker
Nothing signals that you are the antithesis of cheugy quite like a bold manicure. Sure, the words “dog mom” are in your IG bio and you’ve purchased Tory Burch Miller sandals as recently as last month, but a calculated shellac color choice can really cancel that out if you play your cards right. This will also dupe people into thinking that you’ll be making some similarly wild decisions for your wedding, motivating your followers to prioritize watching your Stories every time they open the app. Not to mention, a scared bridesmaid is a loyal bridesmaid. If your girls can be tricked into thinking you’re reckless enough to select a heinous color for your wedding, they’ll be so relieved when you tell them they’re wearing blush dresses, that they’ll hardly bat an eyelash when you reveal how much they’re expected to cough up for hair and makeup.
It’s An Excuse To Post At Least One More Ring Photo
Engagement rings beg to be photographed, but the last thing you want to do is clog the timeline with too many photos from the same occasion. (Although this used to fly… you can thank photo dumps for destroying your right to double post.) The simple fix for this, of course, is to get a redemption manicure, which would technically qualify as a separate posting event from the proposal. “Don’t worry guys, I have a pretty manicure now!” just might be the new “So a lot of you have been asking about my skincare routine…” in the sense that both statements require the speaker to hold quite a bit of naivety in regards to how much other people actually care.
Next time a friend invites you on a trip to the salon or you find yourself torn between two manicure options, my advice for you is: choose the worst option. Reach for that weird yellow bottle of polish that looks like it’s never been opened. Say yes to the nude that clashes most with your skin tone. Visit the spa with over a dozen horrible Yelp reviews. It’s the number one best thing you can do for your engagement. (Your Instagram engagement, by the way. Not your relationship status.)
Images: Lyuba Burakova /Stocksy.com
Are you still reeling from the revelation that skinny jeans and side parts are no longer cool? Well that’s too damn bad, Jessica, because Gen Z have come up with another way to make fun of millennials, and this time, they’re not coming for one or two sartorial choices, but for our entire aesthetic. Thanks to the rise of the catch-all insult cheugy, declaring millennial lifestyle staples as cringey has gotten easier than ever before. If the emergence of a trendy new term is making you want to, not take a nap, but just rest your eyes for a bit, then I regret to inform you that
you’re old you’ve come to the right place. WTF is cheugy, am I cheugy, is writing an article explaining cheugy, cheugy? The answer to those last two questions is definitively yes, so at least you’re in good (if you loosely apply the meaning of “good”) company.
The term cheugy, which, since I know you’re about to ask, is pronounced chew-ghee (hard G sound), was actually coined in 2013 by a then-high school student to describe people who, as the New York Times put it, “are slightly off-trend”. The term gained popularity on, where else, TikTok, after a video posted on March 30th went viral. For a visual definition of cheugy, think of MLM boss babe energy, millennial #girlboss aesthetic, and anything the cast of Vanderpump Rules would have worn in seasons 1-3. Chevron is cheugy; Gucci belts with the overlapping G’s are cheugy; captioning an Instagram with “thank u, next” is cheugy; I haven’t gotten the official report yet, but I’ve got to imagine statement necklaces are extremely cheugy. (Using an adverb before cheugy may or may not be cheugy.)
To put it more precisely, Urban Dictionary defines cheugy as “another way to describe aesthetics/people/experiences that are basic”; the second most popular definition says it’s something that was “stylish in middle school and high school but no longer in style.” If you aren’t sure, here’s a quick rule of thumb: pretty much everything you hold near and dear is probably being derided at this very moment by college kids and high schoolers via a made-up word that sounds like what Vice would name their next food vertical.
Here’s the thing. While some millennials are already probably mounting their defenses of Starbucks and Live, Laugh, Love signs, let’s just… not. Have we forgotten that we based our entire personalities for multiple years around appropriating the term “basic” within an inch of its life? What, it’s only fine for people to make fun of pumpkin spice lattes, but we’re drawing the line at blanket scarves? Let’s not turn this into the skinny jeans and side part war, which was fun at first, but got completely blown out of proportion once we got to the stage of making musical parodies telling Gen Z to “kindly shut the f*ck up”. (Even worse is that this battle that still rages on to this day despite it now being almost shorts weather.)
I get why the emergence of cheugy feels like a blitz attack on millennials, but there’s a difference. What hit me so hard about the skinny jeans/side part debacle, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, is that I never considered those stylistic choices to be trends, much less up for debate. You parted your hair on the side because that was simply what you did—god forbid you part your hair down the middle and make your face appear rounder! You wore skinny jeans because that was just the style, and because we didn’t want to get caught dead wearing mom jeans. I never questioned these things, and to hear that these elements I took for granted were secret markers of my uncoolness this entire time felt like being told the color black was suddenly cringey. Who even am I?? But this other stuff? Take it! Who cares? Like, I really hope chevron is not a cornerstone of your personality.
It’s one thing to not want to part your hair down the middle (I tried it; doesn’t work for my face shape, but if you can rock it, more power to you), but it’s another thing to live in a fantasy world where no trend in which you participate ever goes out of style. Millennials, I know we grew up as the darlings of the internet and never imagined a time when we would not be the hottest and most in-demand age group for publishers, advertisers, and brands, but it’s literally the circle of life. Did I think I’d be a washed-up old hag before my 30th birthday? Not really, I thought I’d have a bit more time, but c’est la vie! The internet is a fickle place. At least this way I can now lean into my lifestyle of only wearing leggings and doing bath bombs and face masks—which is probably cheugy to do. I might as well embrace it and get a stemless wine glass that has “yes way rosé” screen-printed on it in gold script.
We’re all cheugy in some way or another. Lasagna might apparently be cheugy. Don’t fight it. It’s fun to be kind of embarrassing! What’s the alternative, constantly changing your entire aesthetic to fit in with what people decades younger than you find trendy? You’ll never win that game. No matter what term you call it, that’s the worst look of all.
Image: Jose Martinez / Unsplash