Everyday Ethics

Call it a case of white liberal guilt, but I’m uncomfy getting pedicures.

I love how they look, and I’m hopeless at giving them to myself. Since I was a kid, I’ve tried; tongue caught fast between teeth, brow furrowed with a scowl of concentration as I guide the tiny brush across my tootsies, only to end up with a glob of polish that looks as though a runaway road-divider painter slopped over my feet on its way off a cliff. Manual dexterity and I do not exactly go hand-in-hand. Or hand-on-foot, as the case may be.
But I just don’t like handing over my feet to a stranger and saying, “Here, attend to this, will you?” It’s bizarre, considering I don’t have a similar issue getting a haircut (though I do with manicures). It’s that sort of embarrassment about being waited on “hand and foot.” (Again with the aphorisms this morning!) I feel like a jerk asking someone to trim my cuticles and scrub my calluses; get their faces that close to an ugly part of my anatomy (and no, I don’t get waxed!)

A part of it is that the folks who do nails in my neighborhood are clearly recent immigrants who aren’t being paid a lot and who perhaps can’t get better jobs due to language barriers or other immigration issues. On the one hand (foot?), I suppose this means they need the work and don’t need my idiotic qualms. On the other, I don’t want to waggle my big privileged foot in somebody’s face who already has it tough enough.
What to do? For now, I just get pedicures very rarely, tip extremely well when I do, and go sans polish most of the time. (It’s more in line with my budget anyway.) To address my ethical squeamishness, however, I thought about just asking a manicurist what they think about their job, but I didn’t want to put anyone on the spot and make them more uncomfortable. 

So… anyone out there reading this currently or ever been a manicure/pedicure artist? Want to weigh in? And, for the rest of you-all, anyone relate? Think I’m being ridiculous?
Incidentally, Paddy tells me she has something to add on this subject from the POV of someone coming from a background of “brown liberal nonchalance.” Can’t wait to hear it!
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