• Mon, Mar 3 - 8:55 am ET

It’s Insane That Anyone At Orly Thought This 12 Years A Slave Nail Art Was OK

12-years-a-slave-manicure-orly

Oscar-themed manicures seem like a slam dunk for any vaguely creative nail polish company trying to keep the nail art trend running as long as humanly possible, but some films are more difficult than others to render as nail art. 12 Years a Slave is at the top of that list.

That didn’t stop nail polish-maker Orly from trying, though. For the past week the company has been celebrating Best Picture nominees with nail art on its Instagram account. Some have been pretty good, like American Hustle:

And Nebraska:

But the company had some completely predictable difficulty making a cute manicure about the ugliest and most brutal period in America’s history.

Now this manicure certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been, especially if you have a good imagination and little faith in the sensitivity of humanity. It could have been really bad. All Orly did was paint a broken chain on one thumb and use the other four fingers to spell out “12 Years A Slave.”

But while the manicure could have been much, much worse, it still wasn’t great. Doing a 12 Years a Slave mani-pedi is just a terrible idea, and the way Orly chose to photograph it was not especially sensitive. Instead of photographing the model holding one of the more eye-catching or notable shades in the manicure, they picked a bottle of brown polish.

We weren’t the only people surprised by the choice.

“Really with the brown polish?” one Instagram commenter said. “Some things just don’t need nail art tributes.”

According to New York Magazine, Orly said the shade was used to do some very minor accents on the manicure, like around the edges of the 12, perhaps. But it was a minor color in the manicure, and probably the bright, orangey red used in the 12 would have been a better choice. It does pop the best, and we’d be most inclined to buy it.

We will never understand how companies can keep making such dumb choices. Companies are made up of a lot of very smart people, and you would think at least one person would say, “Hey guys, we should probably try to be pretty sensitive about creating slavery-inspired nail art.”

Personally, we’d have been most likely to just ditch the whole “Best Picture Nominees as Manicures” idea the moment we realized it would require someone to create 12 Years a Slave-inspired nail art. The idea is just that bad. We love our Frozen and American Hustle beauty tutorials, but you will not see us running a 12 Years a Slave inspired eye shadow lesson any time soon.

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    Definitely not as bad as it could have been, but definitely in poor taste. I can’t imagine how you would execute that idea well.

  • Kelly17

    Wow, we really need to stop being so sensitive.

    • Sarah Jeanne Lombardo

      COOL, THANKS FOR THE TIP. WELL DONE. VERY THOUGHTFUL, MUCH CONTEXT. WOW.

  • erincinco

    I think it’s a stretch to term this as “slavery-inspired nail art”, as the context is clearly manicures representing Oscar-nominated films, but that doesn’t mean it was in good taste. I mean, really, it’s pretty tricky, even from a symbolism perspective, to convey this movie. It was safe of them to just spell out the title, but even then, you could pick that apart, if you wanted. As for the bottle, you could find a negative connotation with ANY color used in that manicure. They were kind of stuck with this whole idea; leave out the film and that sends a bad message; put it in and have all this other criticism. Probably not the best way to acknowledge the Oscars, Orly.

  • Tinyfaeri

    What, no glitter?