Why do nail polishes have names? Not brand names — color names, like Essie's Ballet Slippers? Sure, naming polishes is a fun way to add personality to the products and make them memorable, but unless it includes a word that clearly describes the color, they're ultimately arbitrary and have absolutely no bearing on the quality of the polish.
Not that that's a bad thing. It's creative! The sky's the limit!
So then why are so many nail polish names lazy and downright offensive?
Now, I'm not gonna doooo what everybody thinks I'm gonna doooo and just FREAK OUT. Instead, I'll list some of the nail polish names that paint women into the intersection of awful and objectified, or just makes me feel plain ick.
And to be clear, these are real products you can spend your real money on (and some are actually really great colors from really great brands, which is a bummer). And a-one, and a-two…*deep breath*
- Gold Digger
- Harem Head Mistress (Not "Headmistress" but "Head Mistress")
- Jail Bait
- Limbo Bimbo Load (It's creamy white.)
- Lover & Hussy
- Man Hunt
- Marry a Millionaire
- No Means No
- No Pre-Nup
- Porn Star
- Rock Star Skinny
- Saddle Me Up
- Size Matters
- Starter Wife
- Strip Tease
- Sugar Daddy
- Surfin' For Boys
- Tame Me Now
- Topless & Barefoot
- Trophy Wife (two brands use that one!)
Are men's grooming products named equally? Is there a hair gel out there called Mom's Roommate? Are dudes applying Couch Potato to their armpits and putting on Nerd Alert aftershave? Of course not!
Men's products have awesome names like Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Alps! And Hawkridge, a badass combination of words! Men's products inspire confidence with names like Swagger and Playmaker, and if I was back in my wanting-to-smell-like-a-guy phase I would be ALL OVER it.
The interesting thing about one nail brand, Essie, is that the names are created, or at the very least approved, by founder Essie Weinstein. In this interview about how she comes up with the names, she says, "I think about a moment, or something that inspires me, like a summer vacation. Sometimes it's an irreverent play on words, a funny story or theme. Ultimately, the names have to be memorable."
Oh, they're memorable all right.
I asked a few of my polish-loving friends if they took note of the name before they bought a product, or if it they even noticed the names. Laura takes more than just a note from her cosmetics' names: "First I think about my mood, which narrows down the color range, and from there I pick my polish based on what name best matches how I would like my next few days to feel and play out: what I want to accomplish, or how I want to be treated. Picking my polish by the name is my meditation on setting the tone for my life. I really want to be a mermaid when I grow up, so I'm obsessed with OPI Catch Me In Your Net. And, when I want the world to take notice and get with my program already, I choose OPI Crown Me Already."
On the other hand, my friend Jessica considers her polish by shade only: "I guess it's the same reason I ignore clothing labels. If I like the shirt and it fits in my budget, I'll buy the shirt, regardless whether it's Dolce or Old Navy. And if the shade happens to have an offensive name, well, bonus. But it doesn't dictate my choice to purchase it or not."
Breanne, a mom, said, "My daughter liked [a color] that was called something like Sparkly Tramp, or Glitter Tramp. I just didn't want my daughter using a nail polish with ‘tramp' in the title. I mean, she's only six!"
High five, girl; orgasms are the best!
My friend Jamie said, "I would NOT be keen on nail polish called Jail Bait. It would have to have been a shade so good it was actually engineered to look amazing on me, and then I'd just have to picture an earthworm wearing a prison jumpsuit and carrying a tiny shiv."
With no creative limits, in my opinion, there is no excuse for choosing names that insult your potential consumers.
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