She’s been growing her nails for over 25 years. Diana Armstrong was recently awarded a Guinness World Record for her 1.3m long nails.
But how she got the record for the longest fingernails on a pair of female hands, with her left pinky fingernail measuring 109 cm long, the US woman has a tragic story behind the record breaking length.
GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER REFUSED TO CUT HER NAILS AFTER A TRAGEDY
Armstrong, who had always had longer than average nails, used to have them manicured by her daughter Latisha every weekend.
“She was the only one who did my nails. She polished them and filed them for me,” she said.
Back in 1997, Armstrong started her day as normal by asking her children to get out of bed. She then went to the shops to get food for her family.
But while shopping for her family, she received a scary call from her youngest daughter.
“At the store, my baby daughter called me and told me ‘Ma, Tisha won’t wake up’”.
Latisha, who was 16-years-old at the time, had passed away in her sleep from an asthma attack.
“That was the worst day of my life.”
ARMSTRONG QUIT HER JOB FOLLOWING TRAGEDY
“She did my nails the night before. We were up all night, so I just couldn’t cut my nails off after that,” she said.
Armstrong worked as a hairstylist but since the passing of Latisha, she quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom. She instead focused on growing her fingernails.
The record holder battled depression for ten years. But growing out her nails was her way of keeping Latisha in her thoughts.
Despite her children trying to convince her over the years to trim her fingernails, she would tell them to “mind your business”.
“Every time I look at my nails, I think of my daughter. I think she’s my guardian angel.”
Once she finally revealed her motives to her children as to why she grew out her nails, she was met with acceptance and understanding.
Her daughter, Rania, says her reasoning changed her feelings towards the long nails.
“Because just as much as she missed my sister, I missed her too. So, if that’s her way of holding on to her, then I accept,” Rania said.
GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER TAKES HOURS TO PAINT HER NAILS
With her nails measuring at 1.3 metres, the combined length of Armstrong’s fingernails is longer than a standard yellow school bus, said Guinness World Record.
Now that they have reached such extreme lengths, each of her nails take between four to five hours to paint.
Since painting them is a long process, she only does her nails once every four to five years. Her long nails use up between 15 to 20 bottles of nail polish and a woodworking tool for filing them.
But Guinness World Records heard of her nails and presented her with a certificate, something which Armstrong did not expect. She had been avoiding taking pictures as she feared judgment and criticism.
Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday says as much as Armstrong’s story is heart breaking, it is also fascinating.
“[Armstrong’s] determination to honour her daughter’s legacy in her unique way is inspiring. Family means everything to Diana, and she’s lucky to have gathered around her wonderful support network, which is what you need when each of your fingernails is longer than a ski pole,” said Glenday.