I Tested TikTok’s Viral Red Nail Theory

Fashion
Photography by Getty Images

The red nail theory suggests that men are attracted to red nails because it reminds them of…their moms. Amanda Demeku took a set of crimson tips out on the town for a week to put it to the test.

If you’re not familiar with the theory sweeping the nation (a.k.a. TikTok), the lore of the red nail theory alleges that crimson nail polish is the most appealing colour to men. Apparently, men like red nails so much, the very sight of it leads them to ask you out, shell out compliments, and/or approach you in the wild.

Why, you ask? Well, the term “red nail theory” was originally coined by Robyn Delmonte, better known as @GirlBossTown, when she noticed a spike in male attention whenever she donned the hue on her fingertips. She theorized that men are drawn to red nails because it reminds them of… their moms (and other female authority figures from their youth). “Every time I have red nails, a guy comments on it… and then it hit me,” she shared on TikTok. “In the nineties when we were growing up, women had red nails a lot, especially our moms. And I weirdly think guys are attracted to red nails because it reminds them of their moms.”

Now, I don’t doubt that red is an attention-grabbing colour. How else can we, as a nation, explain the success of Kit Kat bars, Colonel Sanders, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Mauricio Umansky’s real-estate agency, The Agency? But that said, selecting my nail colour to bend to the preference of men, in 2022, is not exactly it. However, for the sake of science and the culture, I screamed “to the salon!” and took the red nail theory out for a spin.

Monday started strong when my nails and I were approached by not one but two of my male neighbours, sparking up conversation beyond the usual “hi,” and asking about my travel plans, my job, and most importantly, my name (huge considering I’ve lived in the building for almost two years). Was this a positive reaction to my nails, or just extra time by the elevator? We might never know, but attention was given so that’s a point for the theory.

Later that day, my nails picked up their daily cappuccino, hit up a co-ed Studio Lagree class, and attended a dinner with friends. And while my barista (a woman) complimented my nails, no one else did — that’s called balance, baby.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Demeku

Tuesday was a relatively chill day since my body, mind, and fingers needed to rest post-workout, so I decided to take my tips to the gluten-free aisles of Farm Boy. While I perused the assortment of snacks, my digits were hard at work picking up items and setting them down in the sight line of nearly every male patron and employee in the hopes that they might elicit a convo or a compliment, to no avail.

Departing the grocery store my nails locked eyes with a rogue car hub cap. And knowing cis men’s stereotypical love of cars, I stood next to it in hopes that the gent who had lost it might return to retrieve it, and ask me out. After two whole minutes and zero action, I bid the discarded hub cap adieu.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Demeku

On Wednesday, my nails had a stacked day of events to attend. To get the party started, they made their way to a beauty preview where, once again, not a single human commented on my tips despite using them to deliberately swatch various embargoed products I can neither confirm nor deny.

From there, I made my way over to Holts Café to celebrate Moët & Chandon. This was an optimal chance for my crimson tips to mix and mingle with the opposite sex. Yet not even these blurry men (see below), with a clear view of my Champagne-holding hands, cared to pay mes mains any attention. I had to make a run for it.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Demeku

The restaurant Kasa Moto was unveiling its new menu, so my hands bopped across the street with red nail varnish on their tips and hope in their heart. The party was in full swing so my mitts said hi to the sushi bar and toasted strangers at the martini station, and yet still, no takers — total bust.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Demeku

Thursday my nails had an actual date to attend, arranged before the colour red got involved, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when the mention of my manicure never entered the chat (even though I gave my pointers every opportunity to shine). And while I will be seeing him again… does this encounter technically count?

Which brings me to Sunday, my final act, the airport — where everyone in your age range, with a pulse, is fair game. In case my harrowing retelling of the above experiences did not prepare you for the ultimate fail alas, not one single sir on either side of the border, come security, customs, or the Starbucks line, cared to pay my scarlet claws a single shoutout. We didn’t have to go out like this, but here we are.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Demeku

So girlies, my takeaway? Paint your nails any damn colour you please. And a message for all my male readers: As the great Tyra Banks once screamed: I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! How dare you? Learn from this.

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