When you find yourself in the chair at the nail salon, considering who you would like to be for the two or so weeks your manicure will last, the world is your oyster. Coffin nails? Almond nails? Squoval? Boring! No! Wrong! Duck nails, my friends, is where it’s at if this breezy trend piece from Good Morning America is to be trusted.
Danielle Bergoli, also known as Bhad Bhabie, is reportedly the reason for this particular season, as she was recently spotted on TikTok sporting a long set of French-manicured duck nails. The nails in question are generally fine except for their shape; a French manicure is chic, the Louis Vuitton detail on the ring finger is the correct amount of tacky, but the shape is, politely, not for me, though I recognize that for some, it works. The larger question is not why, but rather how?
Duck bill nails are a late ‘90s throwback shape where the nails flare out as they reach their apex, resembling the webbed foot of a duck. If the teenage soothsayers on social media are correct, the duck nail is part and parcel of the Y2K revival, the natural next step beyond a Carmela Soprano meets Long Island Medium square tip. Snooki engaged with duck nails in 2011 at the peak of her Jersey Shore fame, as evidenced by this quick hit from the Huffington Post, featuring a close-up of her Jersey-ass hand, bronzed the color of duck l’orange, with each finger ending in a bedazzled, airbrushed nail.
There’s something to be said for embodying the sartorial spirit of the Jersey Shore when considering your own personal Y2K redux, but what irks so much about this shape in particular is, well, the shape, which is unnatural in a way that other nail choices, like ballerina nails, stiletto nails, almond nails, and the like, are not. Nail artists that spoke to GMA about the trend said that the nail shape is an immediate throwback, paying tribute to their mothers, grandmothers, and aunts that flexed manicures like this that bucked traditional notions of propriety.
“I was obsessed, so when I went into middle school my mom let me get them,” said a woman named Yazmin, whose Instagram is a beautiful tribute to the extra-long, extra-fancy sets that dominate social media now. “I also want to recognize the Black and Latina community for inspiring these 90's/Y2K, and I will keep wearing them regardless if people like them or not, because the shape and creativity is phenomenal,” she told GMA. It’s hard to argue with the creativity, but on a practical level, the shape is difficult to manage. Typing, texting, or opening a can of seltzer is manageable with long nails if the long nail tapers to a point; square-tipped nails, of the sort popularized now by any cut-rate influencer on YouTube or TikTok, look incredible but functionally, they are not as easy to wear as it looks.
Nail choices are deeply personal, and my yum is another person’s yuck, so there is no judgment cast in this choice. But a duck nail is the convergence of everything annoying about having long nails rolled into one. Committing to the bit of dressing like a Jersey Shore native circa 2010, on your way to do Jell-O shots in Belmar before sweating off your spray tan on the dance floor is a joy I will take from no one, but the duck nail’s impracticality perplexes me beyond reason. Maybe the discomfort is part of the appeal? Life is short, full of choices that are largely impermanent, so if the mood strikes, and your summer feels sort of boring, march into your local nail spot and try on something new.