I was likely about 10 years old, give or take, and my uncle told me that no one was ever going to love me with hands like mine. While although I’m 27 and still single, I highly doubt it’s based solely on my incredibly disgusting habit of biting my fingers and nails (it probably has more to do with all of my other incredibly disgusting habits – but more on those another day).
So yes, for as long as I can remember I have had this undying cannibalistic urge to consume my nails, as well as the skin around them. This known in the clinical world as choric onychophagia is most common in children (there, there 10 year-old-self) but still a habit some can’t kick as adults (Britney Spears, nail biter).
I can’t tell you why I started, I’m assuming it wasn’t based on stress, I mean, elementary school was a breeze, but whatever the initial reason it hasn’t stopped and now it happens unconsciously when I’m bored, hungry, anxious, or perplexed – so like all of the time.
Being in the beauty industry you’d think that after countless articles I’ve read or written on the importance of nail care, not to mention the possible effects on my general health (think about me holding the rail on a subway and than 20 seconds later putting my fingers in my mouth), I just can’t find the will to stop.
If you considered the stigmas and the embarrassment that comes with being a nail biter, you’d think that I would have found some inner strength to quit, but still, to date “ no progress. There really is nothing more distressing than hopping out of the shower, looking down at my mangled fingers, and then quickly contemplating how much of a closet psycho I must really be “ like seriously “ who eats themselves? (And yes, I can’t stress enough that they are THAT bad “ red and scarred down to the first knuckle).
I dream of having beautifully manicured mitts, so when it’s time to shake hands with someone at a work party or cocktail reception, I’m more concerned with getting their name instead of worrying if about if they’ll notice my chronic hangnails.
The measures that many take to quit biting can be as intense as hypnosis or medication. Doesn’t really surprise me considering I’ve tried every product on the market “ I’d love to meet the genius that came out with the solution that just made your hands taste like shit “ sorry love, I ate through your product. However, I am hopeful and don’t really think it will have to come down to spending my next pay cheque on a hypnotist (seriously, a hypnotist?).
In 2011, it’s my goal to stop biting my nails. Here are a few things I have started making efforts to do. And lo and behold, some are actually working:
1. My desk at work is now fully equipped with straws, gum, and candies. It doesn’t hurt to try substituting a different form of oral gratification.
2. Despite their pathetic length I now polish my nails every day. Yes, every day. I’ve noticed lately that I spend more time picking off the polish than actually biting the nail. So, that’s kinda a step in the right direction, yes?
3. No matter how bad they are, I swallow my shame and take a trip to frighten some poor manicurist once a month. She usually can’t do much filing, but she can get my cuticles back in order, and never fails to remind me that they can be beautiful if I keep coming back.
4. I’ve added massaging my hands and fingers with vitamin E and throwing on a pair of gloves to my pre-bed routine (this could quite possibly be the reason I’m still single).
We’ll see what happens, or how long it takes for the scars to heal, if ever “ but if you also happen to be a nail biter, buy some straws, a pair of gloves, and a vat load of vitamin E and feel good knowing that someone else out there feels your pain. Oh yeah, and if you too are single “ trust me, my uncle’s a jackass, someone will love you one day despite your hands.