The Unspoken Reality of the Vietnamese Nail Salon Worker


The full article is published here. 

In this piece, we reflect on the the mistreatment and perceptions of nail salon workers, as well as the countless health hazards they face in working conditions. Snippets of the article can be found below:

Working in a nail salon does not come without social and health repercussions. Vietnamese workers have to constantly navigate the day to day interaction with customers. There is a surprising amount of logistics and coordination involved in making the process more efficient during a busy day. This can make the salon seem more chaotic in the midst of Vietnamese being yelled across the room. From the workers perspective, this is just how the salon operates. From the perspective of customers, this can come off as unprofessional. However, finding the balance between providing the expected “spa” treatment, maintaining conversation and rapport, and working efficiently within the salon can be very tiring. During a busy day, this balance becomes particularly difficult to maintain. Walk-in and waiting customers expect a faster process while customers with appointments demand special treatment. In these situations, workers may come off as rude or not attentive because of the faster work pace. Customers are surprised when Vietnamese workers are more stern and tough against unrealistic customer demands and expectations. While Vietnamese people are seen to be resilient and capable of enduring through difficult times, it does not mean that they will be submissive and docile. Workers may understand the importance of customer service within this profession, but also maintain a high level of self-dignity and respect for themselves. As a reminder, Vietnamese nail technicians are doing this for their families–not to serve and please customer demands. For those whose parents work or have worked at a nail salon, remember the daily sacrifice being made here. This “dirty” and “demeaning” industry has been the economic backbone that has allowed the Vietnamese population to prosper.


Posted on

June 13, 2018