Weight is an uncomfortable, awkward, and embarrassing subject in pretty much every context. There isn’t an easy way to bring up how much someone weighs. It is also difficult to do it in a private manner that saves them any unnecessary extra embarrassment. Yet there is some murmuring online about the potential necessity for this discussion.
Pedicure chairs with tubs and massage and so on can run upwards of $5,000, which is a hefty chunk of change. You can get a used car for that amount of money! With that being said, a lot of these expensive fancy chairs have weight limits. Ignoring the limit can put the chair and the client at risk of damage or injury.
Let’s ignore, for the moment, the fact that a chair costing that much has a weight restriction, yet a cheap hydraulic chair can hold up 1,000 pounds! It comes back to us to figure out the workaround in the salon. On average the fancy chairs seem to have a 250-300 pound weight limit. While this may seem like a lot, you would be surprised how many people can carry that weight without looking overly heavy due to muscle or height.
The only fair way to access this while protecting your investment is to ask about weight. How can we let people know before they get to the salon to avoid embarrassment? Why not put in parenthesis in the pedicure descriptions on your website what the chair weight limit is? As a heavy person myself, I do not want the mortification of being asked my weight out loud, in person! You could also possibly list it in the form a person fills out to receive the service, maybe offering a code they could give you if they need to transition from a pedi to a mani.
For example, maybe the form asks for any medical conditions your nail professional needs to know about, such as diabetes, eczema, etc. Then the next thing on the page is a statement: “Our pedicure thrones are only built to handle up to 250 pounds. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience. If you need to change your pedicure into a manicure, please let your service provider (or receptionist) know that you would like to try the secret menu mani you heard about from a friend.” Now it’s kinda cool, like a custom Starbucks item, and slightly less embarrassing.
You could also have a different type of chair that is for express pedicures or polish changes only, so that they still have the option to have cute toes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but polishing my toes has long since become a job for someone else! Perhaps you have a basic recliner and do waterless pedicures on heavier clients. If other clients ask why the special chair you can always say it’s for fall risk clients. Lots of people are a fall risk — diabetics with neuropathy, people with ear issues, etc.
If salons were upfront about the fact that the chairs aren’t built for everyone, the information would be wider spread. This will potentially result in a few things. Hopefully the chairs will be built to handle a wider variety of weight, especially with the price points they have. Regardless of that, chances are good that heavier people may be “fat shamed” into forgoing pedicure services. This would be a marketing opportunity for some salons that don’t have fancy thrones.
There’s honestly not a perfect solution to this issue. We could all jump on the whole fat people shouldn’t eat too much bandwagon, however that isn’t always the issue. I know lots of heavier people who barely eat enough to keep a bird alive and still never lose weight. I also have thin friends teased for being too thin who can eat like a horse and never gain a pound. The point is to figure out how we can take something that is a serious issue and find solutions that are thoughtful and inclusive.
Leave your ideas for dealing with this in the comments. The more we collectively think about a solution, chances are better that an idea will be born!