Men Paint Only One Fingernail to Support This Cause and Raise Money for Charity

Alex West - Author

Dec. 8 2023, Published 6:30 p.m. ET

Man painting his fingernail
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Painting one fingernail is meant to raise awareness about violence against children.
  • One in five children faces sexual violence.
  • The Polished Man cause also raises funds.
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Spotting a man with a little bit of nail polish is becoming increasingly normal in today's world. What may seem a little bit odd is when guys paint only one fingernail. After all, it stands out a bit more than just a simple coat.

As it turns out, choosing to just paint one nail actually has a deeper meaning. While it may just be some sort of fashion choice, there's also a social cause and form of advocacy associated with it.

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Man holding nail polish
Source: Getty Images

Why do guys paint one fingernail?

Men often paint one fingernail to help raise awareness about violence against children. The idea is that by painting one in five nails, it raises awareness that one in five children will be victims of sexual violence.

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The campaign is spearheaded by Polished Man, a nonprofit organization. Their Instagram bio explains, "Paint a nail blue in October to raise awareness and funds to end violence against women and children."

In addition to just spreading awareness, the campaign is also a fundraiser. The Polished Man campaign often promotes donations to YGAP, another campaign meant to uplift communities. However, the overall concept of donating to the cause isn't exclusive to YGAP and individuals are encouraged to donate where they see fit.

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"The funds will also be apportioned to groups like Hagar International, The Australian Childhood Foundation, The New York Center for Children, and World Vision Australia to help with future projects for at-risk children," according to YourTango.

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As it turns out, these efforts actually have a huge impact. "More than 61,000 people have been raising money on the Polished Man platform, which has generated over $513,000 in donations so far," reported SBS in 2016.

Who started the one fingernail trend?

The trend actually started in Australia but spread globally pretty quickly. A man named Elliot Costello began the gesture after meeting a young girl named Thea during his travels in Cambodia.

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On his trip, he was set to help aid underprivileged communities. Elliot had the chance to get to know Thea really well and they even painted their nails together. Due to the impression she left on him, Elliot promised to always keep one nail painted in her memory.

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“In that moment, as she put polish on one of my nails, I told her I would always leave that finger painted to remember her, which also meant I would remember her pain," he said, according to Good Things Guy.

A sweet thing that he did solo snowballed into something much bigger. Elliot realized that this trend could be a huge catalyst for good. In an effort to better Thea and other children's lives, he gave the one painted fingernail a bigger meaning.

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Elliot was the original "polished man" which is a man of character who speaks up about violence against children, especially since most violence children experience is at the hands of men. These are men who want to end that cycle.

Seeing other men with a bright nail is a sign to each other that they've taken the same personal pledge. While not everyone needs to do this all the time, one particular week every year in October encourages men to do so.

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