When I first read the New York Times exposé on nail salons, I was horrified to learn that I could no longer enjoy one of life’s great pleasures guilt-free. After all, how would I be able to sit in silence with my manicurist if she was being exploited? This question plagued me in the months since I boycotted the manicure industry, but I think it’s time to end that turmoil and get my nail beds back in top form, now that conditions have probably gotten better.
After the initial shock of reading the article, I was spurred to action. A fire in my belly, I googled minimum wage laws. I favorited the Times’ tweet of the article. I called my friend Steph and we talked for HOURS about the exposé, our worst manicure experiences, favorite nail polish colors, vacation plans, kids’ orthodontia, and Trader Joe’s granola.
Finally, I came to the unpleasant but inevitable realization that I could not go back to my old nail salon until conditions improved, even though they gave the best neck massages, oh my god. Others with more time on their hands were surely similarly outraged and working tirelessly to end the abysmal pay, racial discrimination, and poor working conditions of my favorite nail place.
I did my part: I searched Yelp for “all-white nail places”, wore close-toed shoes in AUGUST to hide my un-pedicured feet, and even bought tacky, glue-on nails from CVS. I assume that others have also stepped up to the plate in similar ways, like to take legal action against the worst offenders or advocate for regular labor department checks. It’s truly beautiful how much we have probably all come together to fight for justice.
After all this, isn’t it about time for me to go back to my weekly ritual? By now, I imagine those nice, talented ladies are singing in their brand-new cars on their way to and from work, as excited to exercise their creative urges in exchange for fair pay as they are to return to their cute houses, which they each own and live in separately. When I do eventually go back, I will use my new knowledge to ask my manicurist what her real name is, inquire about her stress headaches, and tip a full 15 percent. That’s right: 15.
Now that time has passed and everyone has likely banded together to make change, it only seems right for me to return to my beloved cheap nail salon. It will be so nice to go back to paying $10 for my mani, with the added satisfaction of knowing that I helped people make better lives for themselves. Now, we can all enjoy my manicure experience.