Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Lee Redmond shows off her nails. In late September, she will help Guinness promote its latest book.

On a whim back in 1979, Lee Redmond decided to stop filing her nails. She intended to cut them off once they started twisting, but her plans changed.

Now, 27 years and 33 inches later, the Salt Lake City resident holds the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest fingernails.

"It's strange how they become you," she said. "It's almost like it's your identity. It'll probably be a trauma after 27 years to cut them off."

Redmond will be featured in this year's Guinness Book of World Records. She flies to London on Sept. 26 to promote the book. She also has been invited to appear on talk-show host Sharon Osborne's TV show while there. In October, she has offers to make television appearances in France, Italy and Spain. However, traveling is a concern for Redmond.

"They're flying me first class to give me room with my fingernails. The last time I (flew) they were 27 inches and it was a journey then," she said. "Where do you put them for 10 hours on an airplane? That'll be a job . . . (but) it'll be interesting."

Redmond's philosophy that "you are what you eat" has influenced the growth of her nails. She eats a high-protein diet, which is what hair and nails are mostly made of. She used to soak them in warm olive oil once a week, but now she no longer has time, and they don't fit in the fry pan.

Putting on a heavy coat is the most difficult part of dressing for Redmond, but she manages. Going to the grocery store and even opening doors are hard, but she's able to proficiently do daily tasks, such as vacuuming, cooking, cleaning and taking care of her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease.

"I think everything's a challenge," she said. "I've found a way to do (things) in my own way."

One of the most common questions people ask Redmond is if her nails bother her, but she says she's accustomed to having them.

"People ask me, 'Don't they get in your way?' I say, 'No, they get in everybody else's way but mine. I'm used to them being in my way,' " she said.

Many community members are acquainted with Redmond or have seen her on a rerun of a "Guinness Book of World Records" or "Ripley's Believe It or Not" episode on TV, so they aren't disturbed by them — but children tend to get frightened. One little girl Redmond taught at church was so scared of her that she wouldn't come into class — but once she discovered Redmond was OK, she wanted to be held all the time.

"I hope I put off a good aura because I do like little kids," she said.

Redmond believes everything happens for a reason, and growing out her nails is no exception.

"I think that's what my nails are here to teach me is patience, because you do really have to have patience with them, and I never had patience before," she said.


E-mail: twalquist@desnews.com