The Price of Nice Nails
The Price of Nice Nails
‘The Price of Nice Nails’ exposes the rot in salon employment
where owners exploit employees.
There has been a tremendous growth of salons across the country, as the
manicure has become a grooming staple for women. Today, there are three times
more salons than there were a decade ago (Maslin, 2015). The grave exploitation of women and men who work in
those salons is largely
overlooked. The salons are usually busy and charge relative fair
prices for manicures, but the employees receive little or no money in a day.
Unfortunately, they work long hours to gather hourly wages
and are forced to neglect their domestic duties such as taking their children
to school because they work until late in the evening. Consequently, in the
morning they are too tired to get
their children to school early (Maslin, 2015). In essence, salons are
profitable businesses in the United States, but the manicurists are underpaid,
exploited, and suffer ethnic biases and other forms abuses in the name of
is a luxury that women have converted into a necessity. It is an essential aspect of grooming for modern woman that they
can acquire quite cheaply from the nail salons. However, in an economy, there
is no cheap luxury. Indeed,
luxury to be
affordable, a resource must be undervalued. In the case of the nail salon, the
manicurists do not earn the value of the human resources they commit to the job (Wrye, 2012). The nail salon owners have only one option, which
is to exploit the employees to achieve attractive and cheap prices for manicure
services. A manicurist spends over 45 minutes on a single client before being
paid as low as $1.50 (Maslin, 2015). While doing the job for close to an hour,
the manicurist has to concentrate on the nails alone without talking to the
client often because of the language barrier. Additionally, they cannot speak to their fellow manicurists because the boss
ready to spend huge amounts of
money on nails and move from the traditional way of polishing the nails themselves. Nail salons have become a new way
of outsourcing manicure services. Clients walk out of the nail salons looking
glamorous with postures of powerful women, and not those of the underpaid
employees (Roberts, 2016).
Interestingly, their increased popularity has led to the practice of women in well-paying careers holding
meetings at the nail salons regularly. Essentially, nail care is a way of self-expression and women can connect with others superficially or strengthen
long-lasting bonds as they
receive the services.
owners speak boldly of the poor treatment of their employees and even attempt
to justify it. Mainly, they tend to employ illegal immigrants who can be
underpaid without making a complaint because it would lead them to more troubles and render them jobless
(Maslin, 2015). Many employees are blackmailed because of their illegal immigration status.
Worse, even the legal immigrants are intimidated to work in the poor conditions
and low income because the employers have enough money to influence the
revocation of their migration status (Wrye,
2012). Thus, most of the employees in the salons remain silent about the
evils of their employment because they fear their stay in the United States
will be terminated.
practice in the salons means that the value a commodity is determined by the
amount of labor invested. Capitalism allows the employer to pay the employee
the cost of the labor he or she provides. The value the worker is paid has to be less than the value of the product
to create surplus value (Roberts,
2016). In addition, the
employers usually charge the newly employed people some training fee that can
be as much as $200. The trend spreads across all salons in New York. Therefore,
freshly employed women have to work for several weeks or
months without pay until the $200 is entirely compensated through their labor. During that
period, they are forced to rely on the little tips that are not assured, until the boss
decides if she is skillful enough to begin earning wages (Maslin, 2015). Some
employees take up to three months before they start to enjoy the meager wages.
encourages people to take advantage of situations to make profits. Employers at
nail salons take advantage of the federal and state laws that consider nail
workers “tipped workers.” The rules
allow employers to pay the employees slightly less than the state’s minimum
wage (Wrye, 2012). The pay they
should receive is based on a complicated calculation of the number of tips they are making. However, the employers
do not follow the calculation because
they understand they are dealing illegal immigrants who have no voice. Many
employees feel that the said tip calculation is meaningless. Additionally, they
do not receive the legal supplementary
pay that they should receive when the tip falls below the minimum wage (Wrye, 2012). In addition, overtime pay is barely heard off in the nail
salons, even though employees work up to 12 hours a day and up to 7 days in a
week. An employee payment is directly correlated to the amount of time spent at work. Experienced employees
earn between $50 and $70 although the pay still falls less than the minimum wage considering their long
hours of work.
exchange value of human capital can be calculated in the same way as the
exchange value of other commodities because it is the labor that is required to
produce. The labor is needed to
feed, clothe, educate, house, rear, and keep a worker in a working arrangement
(Roberts, 2016). Capitalism should pay this cost to maintain workers. Unfortunately, capitalists
economize by overusing the worker so that his or her health declines or their
children are neglected. It is a
tactic for the short-term economy.
Nail salon workers are exposed to
dangerous fumes throughout the day, but the employer does not seem to care. They are
also forced to work long hours
and neglect their domestic duties. Often, they are unable to take their children
to school and usually spend half of their earning to pay nannies who take the
children to school (Wrye, 2012).
The long hours they work mean that they are deprived of sleep and have been exposed to unsafe chemicals that they use in
manicure. Moreover, they clean other people fingers that could be infected with diseases, yet they do not wear protective gloves at work.
of class is rife in the salon as some communities are treated as superior to others. The salon owners
boldly say that they pay Korean workers more than the rest of the immigrants
because they are beautiful.
Employees accept it as the norm and negotiate for their wages depending on
their race (Maslin, 2015). The employees who come areas of hardship such as
Africa and the Caribbean are paid poorly because the salon owners feel that
they are doing them a favor by giving them employment (Roberts, 2016). Unfortunately, they suggest that if it were it not for the jobs, they offer
the immigrants they would be
suffering on the streets. When the society is divided into such classes, the cycle of exploitation
continues to thrive because the surplus must be extracted from laborers to
supply the wants of the ruling class.
conclusion, at the workplace, the grooming habits are moving in harmony, as
women walk in offices with beautifully painted nails and groomed hands. Women
have invested many of their earnings in manicures, and it has become a way of life. Indeed, in
contemporary society, women are potentially judged by the state of their hands and their grooming
or lack thereof. Manicured nails represent a woman who is powerful, organized, and stylish. Unfortunately, the
glamor is achieved through
exploitation of salon workers who do not receive the reward for their input. It
is an aspect of capitalism that allows the employers to maximize profits while
using the minimum resources possible. The primary resource at the salons is the human resource.
Therefore, labor is underpriced and undervalued to enhance gains. Sometimes the
employees are denied pay for small offenses so that the master may maximize the profits
especially when the business is low. Moreover, regulating the industry is problematic and lax, and illegal immigrants are often
blackmailed into silence
due to their illegal status. Indeed, the nail industry demonstrates the various
social ills that characterize society. Capitalism, racism, and the unfortunate
plight of illegal immigrants are evident in the industry.
Roberts, J. M.
(2016). Co-creative prosumer labor, financial knowledge capitalism, and Marxist
value theory. Information Society, 32(1), 28-39.
Wrye, J. (2012).
Boss and worker: An Active-learning exercise in exploitation and class
antagonism. College Teaching, 60(4), 140-146.
Maslin S., (2015). The
price of nice nails. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html