Nail biting is a disgusting habit.
Well, that’s what my Mum used to say anyway, before swatting my nibbled fingertips out of my mouth and eyeballing me with that, “look” — the one that only mums are good at — telling me, “it makes you look unladylike”.
Now that I think about it, nail biting is a little weird and kinda gross especially when you imagine all the dirt and grime that’s trapped under your nails … and then eating it.
Then you have to think about what all that chomping is doing to your nails, and not just damaging your claws, but it can wear down your teeth and enamel, also shift your teeth around and even lead to chips and breaks.
Then there are all the perceptions of nail biters, that we have low self-esteem, are nervous and suffer from social anxiety.
We walk with our head bowed and never ever make eye contact. We get stared at on the bus for nibbling on our fingers, seen as the freak-shows of public transport, and then there is the added risk of catching a cold or other illness because you’re putting your unwashed hands in your mouth… errr, gross.
Yeah, biting my nails are becoming a less likely habit by the second. UNTIL NOW.
It turns out that nail biting may not be such a rotten habit after all. Far from it, in fact, new research suggests that nail biting is actually linked to perfectionism. Yeah, that’s right, suck it!
The research published in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry suggests biting your nails comes from the feeling of an exacerbated need to complete life’s tasks at a breakneck pace. Basically, it’s impatience in driven individuals that inspired the habits to come about in the first place.
The study conducted by University of Montreal, examined the behaviours of 48 individuals — half of whom suffer from “repetitive behaviours” — after exposure to different scenarios designed to elicit feelings of stress, relaxation, frustration or boredom.
The findings correlate with the expected responses of perfectionists, who are apparently prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals.
And, it’s not just nail biting either. Other habits such as tapping the table, picking at split ends and hair twirling are all signs that you are merely seeking perfection, mhhmmm!
So for all those people who perceived nail biting as a cheap habit linked to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and well that it’s unladylike, here are the new way of looking at things; we are simply just the super smart, gung-ho people of the universe, seeking absolute perfection in everyday life including our nails.
But if nothing else, this study provides the perfect comeback next time someone tells you off for biting your nails. Just tell them it’s not your fault; they’re boring you, and you’re perfect.