Gaming the Rules or Innovative Thinking?




NAILPRO Competitions for the Worlds Fastest Full Set of Acrylic Sculptured Nails were held April 21, 2013 at NAILPRO Pasadena. There was some confusion with the outcome, as there always is when someone wins using out-of-the-box thinking. Some would call it gaming the rules and some would call it down right cheating.

In the past, I figured that if someone wins by doing something “questionable” to get the trophy and it’s somewhat of a shortcut, that seems like it doesn’t take as much hard work and talent, then the next year we would change the rules to keep competitors from doing this. However, the individuals that think outside the box and come up with these “shortcuts” do not believe that they are cheating or gaming the rules; they think they are being innovative. Furthermore, competitors that do this also believe that it takes hard work and talent to come up with and perfect these different techniques.

Amy Becker, a well-decorated and avid competitor, won the Worlds Fastest Full Set of Acrylic Sculptured Nails competition last Sunday. I was the judge appointed as her timekeeper, so I watched with amazement and awe as this talented nail professional applied a full set in 7:56.19 minutes with dual forms. If you don’t know what dual forms are, (which apparently many nail pros don’t) they are forms that look like tips but are anything but. You build, sculpt if you will, your nail inside these forms then turn them over and press them onto the nail plate. When the acrylic is set, you can peel off these forms and voila, you have a perfect nail with no filing required that is shiny, beautiful and ready to go. She also used some kind of heat gun to get the acrylic to set up quickly. The vision for this competition was for the competitor to win by using paper or metal forms and give the nails some shape and smoothness with a file. Many times we write rules to curb a specific questionable technique. The rules of this one were written pure and simple without any thought of someone using this different type of form, so technically they didn’t state that you couldn’t. The judges and the competition director referred back to the rules many times that day and found that there was nothing stating that a competitor could not use this type of form. 

Some definitely saw Becker’s method as not really being sculptured nails. I watched her sculpt them with a brush inside these dual forms and today I am still thinking about it, but I believe that she didn’t cheat. Many people had gathered around to observe this competition in action and at the end some were hollering out that the nails weren’t real sculpts, while others applauded Becker’s out-of-the-box thinking. I think most of us look at competition rules with the thinking that if it doesn’t say you can’t --you can. Isn’t that the way in life with many rules? Is that not how ingenious inventors in the nail industry made the nails that we do today possible, or the experimental artists in the nail industry drive our industry today? Sometimes by taking a risk, believing in yourself and passionately going for what you want, you’ll come across contention. I suppose in the end, winners are the competitors who distinctively prevail within a set of rules.