‘Sisterhood’ of US women with long nails meet in New Jersey

‘Sisterhood’ of US women with long nails meet regularly to swap tips on caring for their 19-inch talons (and some take as long as SEVEN hours for a manicure)

  • The Long Nail Goddesses congregate at Maria Ortiz’s nail salon in Newark, New Jersey, to share nail tips
  • Some are as long as 19in, and the intricate $100 (£75) manicures can take up to seven hours to complete
  • Maria began growing her nails over 15 years ago after being inspired by her clients’ obsession with them 
  • She said: ‘We’re not aiming for a group with the longest nails, it’s just small community, it’s a sisterhood’

A close-knit ‘sisterhood’ of women with long, intricately decorated nails – some as long as 19in – have dubbed themselves the Long Nail Goddesses.

At Maria Ortiz’s nail salon in Newark, New Jersey, the group of women meet regularly to swap tips about the trials and tribulations of what they call the ‘long nail lifestyle’.

The group was founded when Maria began specialising as a nail technician for women who preferred to have elaborately designed, nine-inch talons than to sport traditional French manicures.

As her client list (and her eight inch nails) grew, so did the Long Nail Goddesses group. Now, the Goddesses meet monthly and Maria charges $100 (£75) for a manicure, which can take her up to seven hours to do. 

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The ‘sisterhood’: At Maria Ortiz’s nail salon in Newark, New Jersey, this group of women meet regularly to share stories about the pleasures, trials and tribulations of the ‘long nail lifestyle

Speaking about the ‘long nail lifestyle’, salon owner Maria (pictured) said: ‘They don’t even know you and they wanna ask you ‘how do you wipe your heinie’ and stuff like that. Tissue, with tissue, I’m tired of saying “with tissue”‘

Maria, who is a transgender woman, struggled to find her place in the world, but she has found a close group of friends through her work – and, as her client list grew, so did the sisterhood.

The 42-year-old beautician explained: ‘We’re not aiming for a group with the longest nails, it’s just small community, it’s a sisterhood.

‘Some girls like short nails, some girls like the real nails, some girls like the artificial nails – there’s no competition.

‘This is like family to me. When it was rough out there and I need someone to talk to, one of y’all was there. and vice versa, there’s stuff that’s so intimate between us that you don’t even share with your partners. We’re here to stay, whether you like it or not, we’re taking over the world. One day at a time.’

Maria began growing her nails over 15 years ago after being inspired by her clients’ obsession with them.

Nailed it: The group was founded when Maria began specialising as a nail technician for women who preferred to have elaborately designed nine-inch nails, than trim French-manicures

Firm friends: As Maria’s client list (and her eight inch nails) grew, so did the Long Nail Goddesses group. Now, the Goddesses meet monthly and Maria charges $100 (£75) for a manicure, which can take her up to seven hours to do

Maria, who is a transgender woman, struggled to find her place in the world, but now she has found a sisterhood that truly love and accept her (pictured: a woman getting an intricate crystal-adorned manicure at Maria’s salon)

Proud owner of the group’s longest nails, La Rue Drummond (right) said: ‘I started growing them at the age 13. It’s been well over 30, 40 years – probably more – I don’t wanna tell you my age. If you don’t like it, you will learn to, or it’s bye bye’

The ladies draw attention wherever they go with their sparkly talons and it increases tenfold when they’re out together – but while they usually love the attention, there are always a few onlookers who overstep the mark.

Maria explained: ‘These are my nails and they’re not bothering me – why should it bother you? Long nails are sexy, of course, look at me.

‘They don’t even know you and they wanna ask you ‘how do you wipe your heinie’ and stuff like that. Tissue, with tissue, I’m tired of saying “with tissue.”‘

Fellow nail enthusiast Vanessa Scott, whose thumb nails alone are an impressive nine and half inches, added: ‘How do you clean yourself? How do you cook? How do you drive? How do you put your clothes on? Do you tie your shoes? Those are the questions they ask you.

‘You have to learn how to work with them, it’s just like anything else, you just have to learn how to function.

Show stealers: The ladies draw attention wherever they go with their sparkly talons and it increases tenfold when they’re out together – but while they usually love the attention, there are always a few onlookers who overstep the mark

Worth every penny: Woman come to Zeyne Beauty Salon from all over to get the very best care for their nails, but maintaining such long nails comes at a price

Maria with some of her clients. She said of the sisterhood: ‘This is like family to me. When it was rough out there and I need someone to talk to, one of y’all was there and vice versa, there’s stuff that’s so intimate between us that you don’t even share with your partners. We’re here to stay, whether you like it or not, we’re taking over the world. One day at a time’

‘Until they put me in the ground, I will continue to have long nails. Whoever doesn’t like them, get at the end of the line, cause I’m gonna keep my long nails.’

The nails in the group vary in length from a few inches long all the way up to 19 inches.

Proud owner of the group’s longest nails, La Rue Drummond said: ‘I started growing them at the age 13. It’s been well over 30, 40 years – probably more – I don’t wanna tell you my age. If you don’t like it, you will learn to, or it’s bye bye.’

Woman come to Zeyne Beauty Salon from all over to get the very best care for their nails, but maintaining such long nails comes at a price.

Typing into your touch screen phone can be a difficulty for the ‘goddesses’. Although some people are turned off by the long nails, salon owner Maria – who charges around $100 (£75) for a manicure, says she’s met plenty of men who love her talons

Speaking about their love for long nails, one woman said: ‘It is a fetish for some people and those fetish guys, they love them. They love everything from the drumming of the nails to just me holding a cigar or a pen, playing with something, anything’

Vanessa Scott (bottom right) whose thumb nails alone are over nine inches, added: ‘How do you clean yourself? How do you cook? How do you drive? How do you put your clothes on? Do you tie your shoes? Those are the questions they ask you’

Vanessa, who has been growing her nails for 27 years, said: ‘I can’t even give you a figure. If I come every two weeks, that’s a $100, so multiply $100 for 12 months. I spend a good piece – that’s a mortgage!

‘Is it an obsession? Of course. If I break this nail, I’d probably cry! I will cry!’

Although some people are turned off by the long nails, Maria says she’s met plenty of men who love everything about long talons.

She said: ‘It is a fetish for some people and those fetish guys, they love them. They love everything from the drumming of the nails to just me holding a cigar or a pen, playing with something, anything.

‘Long nails have affected my love life a bit because there are some guys who don’t like it, but it comes with me, it’s part of my personality.

‘If you can’t accept me with long nails then I don’t want ya!’

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