Getting a pedicure is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. However, for salon-goer Deshania Ferguson, the experience became anything but when she reportedly noticed this sign hanging on the nail salon’s wall:
Yep, you’re reading that right. The sign says that anyone who is “overweight” will have to pay extra for a pedicure. Ferguson shared a picture of the sign on Facebook that she claimed to have captured inside the salon, calling it “so rude.”
According to the Memphis, Tennessee, nail salon’s Yelp page, a basic pedicure costs $20, which would mean—with an overweight surcharge in effect—the salon would be charging overweight customers more than double for the same service. (Prices shown on the wall of the salon during the TV interview show pedicures are not $25-30; it’s not uncommon for Yelp prices to be out of date.)
What does the salon owner Son Nguyen have to say for himself? Well, thus far he is denying that he ever had such a sign in his business, even when confronted with the photographic evidence by reporters. However, Nguyen did admit that he does have some policies regarding overweight customers.
He told a local news channel WREG Memphis that while he never hung up such a sign, he might start turning away extremely overweight customers. He told the reporter that it’s difficult for technicians to give pedicures to overweight people. He also said that he’s had two pedicure chairs, which cost $2,000 to $2,5000, broken as a result of overweight customers sitting in them.
However, Nyugen’s defense likely won’t make salon customers feel any better. Since the story broke, Ferguson’s post with the picture of the alleged sign has been shared nearly 600 times, and the business’s Yelp page has been filled with negative reviews from offended women.
Numerous studies have found that overweight people face severe discrimination. Research shows that heavy women earn less than thin women (almost $19,000 a year less), even when factors like education are taken into account. Even women who have a healthy BMI face discrimination for being heavier in the workplace, and that even marginal increases in weight had a huge impact on whether or not female candidates were considered suitable for job openings.
Overweight women are also more likely to be found guilty by male jurors. Furthermore, they face discrimination in the doctor’s office, as research has shown that medical students have a bias against overweight patients.
Research like this proves why it is so important for people to call out “fat-shaming” when they see it and to hold businesses accountable for discrimination against overweight customers. It’s about more than offensive policies in a nail salon. It’s about a society that views heavier people (especially heavier women) as less valuable and less worthy of dignity and kindness than thinner people—and that is just plain wrong.
Here’s hoping that this salon owner changes his tune about overweight customers, and that our society as a whole begins to learn that being overweight is not a character flaw or a sign of moral failure, but merely a physical difference that should not be used as a basis to judge or mistreat other human beings. We are all deserving of respectful treatment and fair customer service, no matter what the number on the scale says.
[h/t: Refinery 29]