Diana Armstrong sets the Guinness World Record for longest fingernails
Diana Armstrong from Minnesota, USA, has broken the record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) and the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female).
Measuring 1,306.58 cm (42 ft 10.4 in) as of 13 March 2022, the combined length of Diana’s fingernails is longer than a standard yellow school bus!
Diana has been growing her fingernails for over 25 years.
Her right thumbnail is the longest of all her nails, measuring 138.94 cm (4 ft 6.7 in). By comparison, her shortest nail (her left pinky fingernail) is 109.2 cm (3 ft 7 in) long.
Diana last cut her nails in 1997. But shortly after, a tragic accident rocked her family and she vowed to never trim them again.
Diana had started her day as normal, by asking her kids to get out of bed and going off to the grocery store to get food for her family.
But while she was shopping, she received a panicked call from her youngest daughter.
“At the store, my baby daughter called me and told me ‘Ma, Tisha won’t wake up.'”
At just 16 years old, Diana’s daughter, Latisha, had passed away in her sleep from an asthma attack.
“That was the worst day of my life.”
Diana, who has always had longer than average nails, used to have them manicured by Latisha every weekend.
“She was the only one who did my nails. She polished them and filed them for me.”
“She did my nails that night before. We was [sic] up all night, so I just couldn’t cut my nails off after that.”
Throughout the years that followed, Diana’s children tried convincing their mom to trim her fingernails.
“My kids said ‘Ma, you need to cut your nails.’ I would tell them ‘Mind your business.'”
Once she finally revealed her motives to her children, she was met with acceptance and understanding.
“When she told us the back story, it kind of changed my feelings towards it,” said Diana’s daughter, Rania.
“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.”
Diana explained that she battled depression for a decade, and growing out her nails was her way of keeping her late daughter in her thoughts.
“Every time I look at my nails I think of my daughter. I think she’s my guardian angel.”
Rania explained that although her mother previously worked as a hairstylist, she became a stay-at-home mom after Tisha’s passing and focused on growing her fingernails.
Now that they have reached such extreme lengths, each of Diana’s nails take between four and five hours to paint.
“I haven’t been to a nail salon in about 22 years. When they see me coming, they’d be like ‘Oh no’,” admitted Diana.
In fact, painting them is such a laborious process that she only has her nails done once every four to five years. The process includes 15 to 20 bottles of nail polish and a woodworking tool for filing.
“Last time I painted my nails was this week and it took four days!”
It’s a challenge for Diana to paint them herself, so she enlists the help of her grandchildren who love adorning her nails with colourful patterns.
“It started off with my two nieces, and then once I ended up having my daughter and she got to a certain age, she just kind of joined the crowd because she loved playing with fingernail polish,” said Rania.
Diana says she is restricted in what she can do with her hands and often uses her feet to pick up clothes off the floor or to open the refrigerator.
“If I have to pick up money off the floor, I can pick up bills,” said Diana, “but if I drop change on the floor, that will just stay down there!”
Diana has also given up on driving, as her long nails have made it almost impossible, but when she used to drive, her nails would rest outside of the car window due to their length.
She also tends to steer clear of zippers, as they are very difficult to navigate with her nails.
Rania said that living with Diana wasn’t difficult at first, but being mindful of her mother’s nails has become increasingly important as they have grown longer.
“We have to be extra careful and we’re always dodging around her so she won’t hit us in the face or so we won’t trip over her nails.” – Rania, Diana’s daughter
Having such an exceptional feature means that Diana has grown used to the attention she attracts when she’s in public.
Although in the past she would often decline photo requests, she now feels comfortable enough to allow curious onlookers to photograph her fascinating fingernails.
Despite their extraordinary length, Diana was surprised when her nails first caught the attention of Guinness World Records.
“I thought that was a joke,” Diana admitted.
She originally attempted to thwart any type of recognition for fear of criticism or judgement, but with time has learned to feel confident about her unique trait.
Diana has no intention of cutting her nails and wouldn’t consider it even if she were paid to do so.
“I think my nails are pretty. To somebody else, they might not be, but to me, they is [sic].”
Diana’s children and grandchildren agree wholeheartedly, and were elated when they learned Diana had been recognized as the new record title holder.
During the certificate presentation with adjudicator Mike Marcotte, Diana was overcome with emotion.
“I think she [Tisha] would be proud of me because she’s the last one who did my nails,” said Diana.
“That’s who I think of when I grow my nails, is my daughter.”
Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday was also in attendance during the certificate presentation, and said it was an “absolute privilege” to be able to spend a day with Diana and her family.
“The story behind her record is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking, and Diana’s determination to honour her daughter’s legacy in her unique way is inspiring,” he continued.
“Family means everything for Diana, and she’s lucky to have gathered around her a wonderful support network… which is what you need when each of your fingernails is longer than a ski pole.”
The previous record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) was held by Ayanna Williams (USA) before she made the decision to cut them off. Diana’s fingernails beat Ayanna’s previous record by an astonishing 573.03 cm (18 ft 8 inches).
Diana also holds the additional title of longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female), breaking a record that had stood since 2008. The previous record holder was Lee Redmond (USA), who sadly lost her nails in an automobile accident in early 2009.
Diana (and her fingernails) have also earned a place in the new Guinness World Records 2023 edition, out later this year. Pre-order your copy today!