Toe be or not toe be? What a question!

Did you know it’s possible to determine where a woman is from just by looking wineat her feet? I didn’t either.  I learn the most interesting things when I’m sipping wine with my gal pals.

Last weekend Donna and I were sipping and sunning poolside. Looking proudly at her brightly painted toenails, Donna confessed that this was the first time in her life her toenails had ever been painted. For the record, Donna isn’t Amish and hasn’t been living on a deserted island all her life. She’s a run-of-the-mill American woman (though special to me) who simply had never applied lacquer to her toes. Or even had a professional pedicure. Oh, and she’s from New Hampshire.


My spring pedicure!

“Are you freakin’ kidding me? What’s up with that?” I asked, wiggling my mango-colored tootsies in the water. I get a pedicure every spring and usually at least one more time over the summer. It’s right up there with my twice-yearly dental check-ups.

As if her confession wasn’t bewildering enough, she added, “Women up North don’t paint their toes. I never saw painted toenails until I moved to the South.”  Yes, she actually said that.

Heather, who hails from Pennsylvania, arrived a few minutes later and the first thing I noticed was her that her toenails were naked. Heather, incredulously, backed up Donna’s assertion that polished toenails is a Southern thing.  I don’t buy it. I lived up North for many years and painted my toenails frequently. And I know for a fact that ALL my gal pals up North paint their toenails.  I have pictures to prove it.

Phyllis and Darlene getting pedicures in Edgewater, Md.


Leslie, Alissa and me after our pedicures in Mt. Airy, Md.

Problem Shoe

Michelle’s polished toes in Washington, D.C.


Heather and Donna

I think I know what I’m getting Donna and Heather, for Christmas this year: gift certificates to the local nail salon. After all, the long, cold, snowy winters up North winters require shoes be worn for much of the year so polishing one’s toenails may be largely pointless. Here in the sunny South we wear flip-flops sandals and open-toed shoes year ‘round. And when in the South, do as the Southerner’s do!


12 thoughts on “Toe be or not toe be? What a question!

  1. Anna, you did not have the same enculturation I did when growing up when I was told that Maryland was a southern state (at least the parts closest to DC–Baltimore and north are more like a northern state). At this moment, I cannot remember where the Mason-Dixon line is–through the middle of MD, on the VA/MD border or on the MD/PA border–too many years since school. I wonder if painting your toenails has more to do with what your mother did than where you live–I don’t remember my mom having pedicures (or manicures for that matter), but my grandmother (originally from Louisiana) did. I never had them until I was an adult and it was more a matter of finances. My hair dresser, a southern lesbian through and through, would not be caught dead without her toenails painted!

    • The Mason-Dixon Line is on the MD-PA border. I always knew we were technically Southerners, but we definitely grew up in a Northern culture. We ate Cream of Wheat, not grits. We didn’t drink sweet tea, and we certainly didn’t say, “Yes ma’am” or “no sir” to our elders. It’s only been in recent years that pedicures have become popular for the every day gal. However, we painted our toenails regularly in the summer while sitting by the pool or watching TV. And they always matched our fingernails!

      • I guess it depends on where your ancestors came from. In my house we ate Cream of Wheat AND grits and my Dad preferred sweet tea and I think that’s what we drank until my Mom went on WW and we switched to unsweetened. My Dad’s family is definitely southern (LA & TX) and my mom was half southern–dad from Arkansas and mom from upper NY state!

  2. Columbia, South Carolina | toemail

    • Feet are highly underrated, especially by those who live with boys. Specifically teen boys. Their stinky sweat socks turn to cardboard, their stinky shoes litter every room in the house, and they prop their stinky feet up on everything and anything, including the kitchen table. Not to say girls aren’t guilty of all this, too, but most at least try to atone by prettying up their tootsies!

      Thanks for stopping by and your kind words!

  3. I live in Canada and the only time my toes are not painted is if I am sick! I do them myself, I go for pedicures several times a year, and They sometimes match the fingernails and sometimes not. My mom, 70+ had her first pedicure this year! What’s with those girls? Tell them to live it up!!

    • O, Canada! I guess Canadians are Yankees, right? So, see, pedicures are NOT a Southern thing. My mom, who hails from Pennsylvania and is 84, gets pedicures and paints her toenails all the time. It just occurred to me, workingtechmom, that it’s usually pretty chilly up your way. Who sees your pretty toes if they’re under the cover of socks most of the year?

      Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon!

  4. Gold flecked toes | Librarian for Life and Style

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