They call themselves lemmings. And like those mythic rodents, whose herd mentality is said to be so strong as to lead them off cliffs, these women are united in a mission that, to outsiders, may seem baffling and even berserk.
The objects of their desire — what they track on eBay, rhapsodize about on their blogs and search for in faraway lands — are bottles of old nail polish. More specifically, discontinued varieties that come in colors no longer available but that are still out there, sitting forgotten on the shelves of manicurists and out-of-the-way stores, just waiting to be found by some lucky lemming who will add them to her collection, cherish them and post them on Instagram for other members of this unlikely subculture.
Obscurity is the lure, New York Times
Disappointed by this article, which is written by a writer whose work I generally admire.
Right off the bat, she gets the jargon wrong—the word “lemming,” used by members on makeup forums, is actually shorthand for a desired item, and not the person desiring the item. This is how one would use the word correctly: “Essie’s Starry, Starry Night is a VHTF that is my no. 1 lemming.” Nor is mixing several polishes to make a new one called “frankensteining”—it’s “frankening.”
It is also erroneous to call this an “unlikely subculture” when the US is currently the biggest market for nail polish in the world—in 2012, US consumers alone purchased $768 million worth of nail polishes, and from 2012 to 2013 spent $7.8 billion on nail services. Though I suppose just about anything can be a subculture when viewed through very narrow lenses.