Why Scarface Still Matters, 30 Years Later



scarface-pfeifferPhoto: Universal/Everett/REX USA.
Joan Collins did it in Dynasty. Jane Fonda did it in her workout videos. In 1983, nearly every entrepreneurial woman was depicted with long, acrylic talons. But, nobody rocked it quite like Michelle Pfeiffer as crime boss Tony Montana’s lady, Elvira Hancock, in Scarface, which was released 30 years ago this month.

See, the women of the early ‘80s needed these nails as they clawed their way into boardrooms. Along with the red power suits and take-up-the-space-of-the-boys shoulder pads, these nails helped women, quite literally, come to work with her claws out.

And, if your husband happens to be Tony Montana? Animalistic digits serves as both sexy fashion and tough-as-nails reminders that the missus is no little woman — but someone equipped to lacerate in the heat of passion or fury, if needed. Whether in the face of a less-than-welcoming workforce, an empire-building, drug-dealing husband (or, say, an oversaturated tabloid landscape), long, dominating nails come in particularly handy when looking to assert presence and power.

Which brings us to our current obsession with fabulously long Scarface-like nails. Any pop singer — from Adele to Miley to RiRi — worth her weight in women-of-power lists rocked nails like Pfeiffer in Scarface this year. Why now? This year, 2013, dubbed the Year of the Woman Entrepreneur by Forbes, was also the year in which the cultural conversation shifted to Lean In. The second coming of the Scarface nail has felt right on point, as brassy women are at the center of attention and influence in many industries.

Can you blame the rest of us for pining over glue-'em-on-and-go nails from House of Holland or poring over nail-art Pinterest boards?

But, this time, rather than rocking tough talons as a way to meet our male adversaries, we do it while building our own empires. Today, as we rock catlike armor less as a defensive reflex, and more as a signal to heed our strength and hear our roar.

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