By now you MUST have heard about the infamous "fish pedicure." Some salon back east (that's what we say in CA, "back east," it means I've forgotton exactly which eastern state this is in and I'm too lazy to look it up just now) has started offering pedicures that involve sticking your feet in a tub of water with a bunch of small fish that EAT the dead skin off your feet.
Yes. You put your feet in an aquarium and the fish EAT the dead skin off.
...in your pedicure soak.
My boyfriend thinks this is a FABULOUS idea and if we were made of time and money, we would buy a ticket and hop on a plane and go "back east" to this salon so he could have these fish eat all the dead skin off his feet.
Meanwhile, the professional industry is AGHAST at the notion! Seriously, I have seen few things that have shocked and disgusted my colleagues like this fish idea.
Nevertheless, just the other day, a fellow nail tech posted to one of our professional forums that she was starting to get REQUESTS for fish pedicures. The calls are starting to come in as the public hears about it-- they want to know if we offer it, when will we offer it, and how much will it cost?
Thing is, most of us are ICKED OUT by the idea of the fish pedicure and we have NO intention of offering the service.
The problem as most of the pros see it is that we can't figure out how it can be considered sanitary? State Boards (the government agencies that typically regulate the salon industry) across the nation have been issuing more stringent rules for disinfecting pedicure equipment in the wake of a slew of infections resulting from poorly disinfected pedicure spas, improper disinfection of implements, and illegal use of Credo blades. (Illegal in many states-- basically a razor blade in a plastic handle used to "shave" off calluses-- WRONG on so many levels! Don't make me start a whole new blog!) One woman has actually DIED as a result of an infection that she developed after a botched pedi!
So here we are, with all these nasty nasty infections breaking out because there are so many people out there doing sub-standard work for customers who don't know any better (btw-- it is NOT "just nails" and the worst that can happen is you DIE! So start demanding higher standards from where ever you get your nails done!) when along comes FISH!
Ok. Here's where I was until about 5 mintues ago-- I can't help but admit that the idea of paying someone to have fish eat the dead skin off my feet DOES ick me out.
Problem is, I really can't say why. I think the fact that these fish exist is WAY COOL. These fish evolved (unless you don't believe that-- then I guess these fish were created...) JUST to eat dead flesh. DEAD, not living tissue. They live in places where animals come to bathe-- scientists call them "doctor" fish, but in reality, they REALLY ARE "Spa" fish!!! How cool is that?! And there's not really any reason they can't give humans the same spa treatment they give hippos.
So why is it icky? I have NO trouble going swimming in lakes and rivers. I've put my hand in the aquarium before-- usually to make sure the placostomous is just hiding out in the little ceramic tiki hut and hasn't keeled over in there-- but still, not afraid to touch fish.(and, if you're a Hitchhiker's Guide fan-- I SO WISH I could get a Babble fish to stick in my ear! Not icky at all!) And these little spa fish don't have teeth at all. They can't hurt you. They are probably SAFER than any other rasp, file, pumice stone, and ESPECIALLY razor blade for removing callouses.
So, I spent my last week thinking, why NOT use these fabulous little fishees to make our feet baby soft?
I'll tell you why.
Because I can't buy jalepenos. THAT'S WHY! Because there's a guy who is SUEING Walmart because he bought some jalepenos and then he got SICK. (insert whining voice.)
Because a few weeks ago we couldn't buy TOMATOES. Because people were getting sick, and nobody knew what was causing it but everyone who was sick had recently eaten salsa-- so a bunch of people thought it must be the tomatoes. So the FDA started testing tomatoes. They didn't BAN tomatoes. NOOOOOO!
Our friendly grocery stores and restaraunts VOLUNTARILY stopped selling/serving tomatoes. They didn't put up a warning sign and give us the opportunity to make an informed desicion to take responsibility for our own actions and possible consequences thereof-- NOOOOO! They just stopped selling/serving tomatoes.
After 800+ cases of salmonella St. Paul, and a bazillion tested tomatos that weren't contaminated-- the FDA proceeded to scratch their heads and said, "Hmmmm, maybe it's the peppers?" And proceded to start testing peppers.
Suddenly the tomatoes were back on the shelves but now I can't buy any *&!ing peppers!
And this morning I read a story in the newspaper that some guy is sueing Walmart because he bought some jalepenos and then got the dreaded St. Paul Salmonella.
After reading the FDA's website about the recent salmonella outbreak and the facts about salmonella in general... it turns out that every year about 4,000 cases of salmonella are reported and confirmed in the United States, with approximately 400 deaths occurring from the infection each year.
Meanwhile, this particular strain of Salmonella-- the St. Paul type-- has, last time I checked, resulted in over 1300 cases with only ONE DEATH that was only PARTIALLY attributed to the salmonella! That's right... the only person who has died after being infected with Salmonella St Paul already had terminal cancer. Which means that the type of Salmonella bacteria that we normally see 4,000 cases of in an average year has about a 10% fatality rate! But this far rarer strain of St. Paul Salmonella has a less than .001% fatality rate but America is so freaking germophobic and sue-happy that it is keeping me from making an informed choice to go ahead and buy jalapenos.
And THAT is why you shouldn't get a fish pedicure! Because what's going to happen when someone gets an infection because they put their feet in an aquarium with those little fishees and their little FISHEE POOP when they had a busted blister, or hangnail on their baby toe, or a small cut where they scraped an ankle or stubbed a toe?! and heaven forbid they're diabetic! or turn out to be allergic to the fishes!
It's hard enough for the government to regulate our industry, and there are many within the industry (myself included) who believe the government has no business trying to regulate the beauty industry-- That they are out of their league and that they shouldn't be responsible for policing an industry they know nothing about. But our culture is growing progressively unwilling and consequently unable to take care of itself, expecting the government to play nanny to them and keep them "safe." Safe from whom? Ourselves and the consequences of our own poor decisions?
Folks, there is NO way to completely disinfect any sort of tub where you are putting your feet in the same water as fish. Even if these poor little fish are getting dumped into a new tub with each new service (and how traumatic do you think that is for the little critters?) with fresh water for each client... those fish poop. And there's no way to potty-train fish. And poop contains bacteria... and bacteria can cause infections. How do you expect the regulatory agencies to respond to this?
Because some day, SOMETHING is going to go TERRIBLY WRONG, and the same people who are lining up today for fish pedicures will be clambering to join a class action lawsuit against the same business they have patronized for years; seeking legislature to protect others from the same service they are RAVING about today!
If you want a fish pedicure, fine. Just own up to the fact that it doesn't take an ichthyoligist to realize this might not be the best plan for smoothing those calluses, so if something goes wrong don't be too quick to find an attorney because maybe some of the rest of us still want jalapenos!
(originally posted at www.myspace.com/nailsbymaggie on 8/20/08)