Too Fat for a Pedicure?


A Lithonia, Georgia woman was charged $5 extra for a pedicure because of her weight.

I almost called this post Nailed in Georgia.  That’s not really important now, I’m only telling you because I didn’t want to waste a pun, however horrible.


Kim Tran, who manages Natural Nails, told Michelle Fonville the surcharge was to cover costly repairs of broken chairs by overweight customers. Tran says the chairs, which are used for pedicures, have a weight capacity of 200 pounds and cost $2,500 to fix.

Fonville said that was discrimination. Tran eventually refunded the money, but asked Fonville not to come back to the salon.


I would say that I don’t have words, but obviously I do or I wouldn’t be blogging about this.

To preface this, as the fat recipient of many a pedicure, I had some serious doubts that her chair weight limit was 200lbs.  I did some research and most of the pedicure chairs I found weighed more than 200lbs themselves.  According to several sources the average weight limit is 300lbs but that is a low number in the owner’s manual meant to decrease liability exposure for the chair manufacturer, and the chair will actually hold more weight.  Also, you can actually get a chair for $2,500 so if the repairs are that much, she might want to just spring for a new one..

For the sake of argument though, let’s assume that she is terrible at shopping and has very expensive chairs with a very low weight limit, and everything she says is true.

First let me say that as someone significantly over 200 lbs I do not want to go through the public humiliation of breaking a chair, especially one that costs $2,500.00 to fix.  As a former business operations consultant, I can see where $2,500 would be a significant strain on the business finances.  I don’t know the nail business but if we estimate that they charge $40.00 for a pedicure and have a 25% profit margin, that’s 250 pedicures to break even on fixing the chair.

Here’s the thing though:  If the chair has a weight limit of 200 pounds, we can reasonably expect that it would break when someone who is over 200 pounds sits in it.  Since she is only charging a $5.00 offset, Miss Tran is betting that the chair will only be broken by every 500th customer over 200lbs in order for her to break even on the repairs.  The math does not add up.

Upon further research, Ms. Fonville was not notified as to the weight limit of the chair or the additional charge until after she had finished her pedicure, paid, and realized that her bill was higher than it should be. This is especially problematic to me because at that point Ms. Tran already knew that the chair hadn’t broken under Ms. Fonville’s weight and so was charging her for an eventuality that was an impossibility.  It would seem that Ms. Tran wants the extra money, but not the trouble of appropriately crafting a company policy that is fair and makes sense.

How is this policy to be applied?  How do they know who is over 200lbs?  Is there a scale?  Do you sign a waiver?  What if a chair breaks while a 120 pound person sits on it?  If someone has kids with them and the kids want to sit on their lap must a combined weight be calculated first, if the kids jump how do we calculate for that?    How are customers notified of the policy? Are we rounding to the nearest pound, tenth of a pound?  If I weight exactly 200lbs do I have to pay?  If I weight exactly 200 pounds and I drink a bottle of water pushing me over the weight limit while I’m in the chair do I have to pay?  Why not require that everyone over 200lbs puts down a $2,500 deposit and then if the chair doesn’t break they get their money back?  That ought to go over great.

I’ll leave it to Ms. Tran to work all of that out.  In the meantime, what I would personally rather do is give my money to a salon that wants my business enough to get a chair that supports my weight.  We’re constantly told about how omigoddeathfatwtfbbq we all are – if such a large percentage of us are heavy, there has to be a salon that wants to paint our toenails.  And if not, why don’t some of us start some?

Good for Ms. Fonville for sticking up for herself.   Here’s hoping that she didn’t need to be told not to come back to the salon.

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2 thoughts on “Too Fat for a Pedicure?

  1. First time I saw this one, thanks to your post today, and all I’ve got is a sackful of no sympathy for Ms Tran. Holy cow. Breakage is a part of business. You agree to absorb that cost when you open one. Not only that, unless that chair was for fat people only, those 150-lb. chickies give it their fair share of use as well, and they probably wiggle around more than we do. Why are we fat girls charged for their usage?! This is discrimination, and I appreciate you calling it out.

  2. Same here, first time to read this.

    What I’d like to know is this: If the owner thought there was a possibility the chair would break, why allow anyone to sit on it, in the first place?

    And I mean anyone. If it was already dangerously weakened by previous customers, than it could break at any time, even by a 90 pound person who moves just wrong.

    So, either the owner was having customers sit in a dangerous chair, KNOWING it was dangerous and not even warning them, and then charging them extra for the privilege, or else the owner was just looking for an excuse to charge them more money.

    Hmmmm, which is more plausible?

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