- Athletes sport patriotic nail art at 2012 London Olympics
- Fans watching the games from afar emulate trend with their own DIY creations
- Enthusiasts say nail art is fun way to support athletes, feel connection to games
Not since the days of American track star Florence Griffith Joyner has nail art been front and center as an Olympic style trend like it is at the 2012 London Olympics. Athletes are showing their competitive spirit through flag-decorated nails and colors meant to mimic the medals they aim to win.
But these special motifs aren't just for Olympians.
Samantha Tremlin is one of many nail art fans getting into the spirit of the 2012 London Olympics with funky fingertips. She wasn't crazy about the Olympics before the summer games came to her country this year. But since then, the manicure fanatic who goes by "the Nailasaurus" has been honing her technique of recreating tiny Union Jack designs.
"Nail art is a hobby of mine, so as the Olympics are quite a big event and being held in my home country this year, I thought I would show some support for Team Great Britain!" said the 21-year-old Cardiff, Wales, resident, who shared her handiwork on CNN iReport.
"This year it's very close to home. It feels as though the games have united every single person in the country with all excitement and pride we're feeling."
From swimmers Missy Franklin and Rebecca Addlington to archers, cyclists and weightlifters, athletes everywhere are sporting patriotic nail decor at the games, thanks in part to British "nail queen" Sophy Robson, whose team of nail artists is providing services to athletes and their guests in "grooming salons" in the Olympic Village.
"It was such fun working with the athletes," said Robson, who designed a menu of 207 country flags to choose from in a partnership with corporate sponsor P&G. "There are no egos involved and they are just excited to have something represent their country on their nails."
Even if you're not in London or Europe, participating in the nail art trend connects viewers to the revelry, celebrity nail technician Deborah Lippmann said.
"It's a way that everyone can feel like they're a part of the experience in a supportive way, no matter where you are," said Lippman, whose eponymous nail polish brand is sold worldwide.
It's not as permanent as a haircut and having 10 fingers means the opportunity to sport various themes, with one finger dedicated to the American flag in support of country and the other to Usain Bolt because he's just that cool.
The appeal for fans is probably the same as it is for athletes: you can show off your patriotism without saying a word, said Lisa Bailey, the blogger behind the DIY resource Nail Art 101.
"Nail art can have the stigma of being for "prissy" girls or girls who are afraid to get down and dirty," Bailey said. "These women are showing that you can have hot nails and still break world records! It's no longer just for princesses and rich girls."
Da-Hae West, 25, is from South Korea, but she lives in London. She wrote "Republic of Korea" in Korean on her nails, accompanied by the national flag.
"It's a small way to show my support!" she said in an iReport.
Allison Fitzpatrick of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been experimenting with nail art for about two years as a way to "spice up the average manicure," the 29-year-old said in an iReport. It's also a great way to feel connected to the games, especially since athletes are also wearing nail art, she said.
"With the Olympics being such an inspiring event I wanted to be able to add some of that inspiration to my everyday life," she said.
"Whether the design is the iconic Olympic rings, the Union Jack to celebrate the host city or a recreation of gold medalist Missy Franklin's patriotic nails, nail art is a fun and creative way to show support for the athletes right here at home."
With the home-court advantage, the Brits probably claim the most enthusiastic Olympic-themed nail art. Plus, there's a lot of room to play around with the Union Jack, as nail art enthusiast Jenny Pasha of London demonstrated with her gold studded set of nails.
"I wanted to create a set of nails that were unique and showed off my support for Team GB," said Pasha, who documents nail art inspiration on her blog.
"I have done Union flag nails many times in the past, but for the Olympics everyone's goal is to go for a gold medal, so I decided to do an all gold set of nails," she said. "I am very proud to have the Olympics in my hometown and I love to show my pride through my nail art!"