Super-Fat Self Care: Pedicures

December 5, 2018

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Hi friends! I’m starting a new series. Super Fat Self Care will consist of me getting into my stretch zone and trying self care activities that I’ve always wanted to – without letting my size stop me! I’m starting with pedicures.

A lot of these activities are particularly scary for me because of my size. I’m what is known as a “super-fat,” which is a term created within the fat positive community to describe folks who wear sizes US 28+. Heads up, we like to keep it as a “self identifying term,” if you’re not super-fat, please don’t call others that without their permission!

Fear of public spaces being inaccessible to my fat body has stopped me from trying all kinds of self care activities. The thought of trying to fit into a space, sit on a table, or try on a robe and failing is my worst nightmare. I would feel such shame about it, though in my right mind (the body positive one) I know that my body is not at fault for the inaccessibility of a space. However, fear of embarrassment of having to be turned away because of my size has seriously held me back in so many ways. Which sucks, doesn’t it? I deserve good things!

Not anymore. We got pedicures!

My partner randomly asked me if I’d be willing to go get pedicures with her and to my surprise, I said yes. I think sometimes spontaneity can actually be super helpful, since it leaves very little room for anxiety to build. I voiced my concerns on the drive to the salon.

Whats the seating like? Are the chairs hard to get up into?

What if it tickles?

Are they going to hate my toes?

What if I can’t get my feet up on the peddle for them?

She assured me they were kind and used to working with all kinds of people. “They’ll even help you readjust your feet if needed,” she said.

I didn’t quite believe her. And even so, I wouldn’t want them to have to help me move my feet around. I struggle with worrying about being seen as burdensome a lot of the time.

I don’t want to be troublesome for these people just trying to do their jobs.

The first issue: Seating

I was worried when I saw the giant armed chairs. They were lifted about a foot or so off of the ground and I was worried about having to hop up into it. Y’all…I’m not the most flexible. Nor am I the most balanced.

I’m a super-fat and I’m short as heck! My 5’2″, short and stout, rotund body has a hard time getting onto barstools and shit. To my surprise, the arms open up on the side for easier access. And while the tub at the front of the chair already had water in it, there was space on either side of it to step up and get seated.

The second issue: Tickle Tickle Bitch

I feel weird about people touching my feet! I don’t like getting tickled and I’ve always sort of feared hitting someone in the face with my foot because they tickled me the wrong way and my reflexes took over.

Well that didn’t happen. But it did tickle. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t bother me much when they were rubbing lotion on my feet or cleaning up my cuticles. It was that damn scrubbing stone on my arches that made it difficult to hold still. And guess what? It was totally normal. We laughed about it, my pedicurist and I. I feel like we really bonded in that moment. *sigh* I wonder what he’s up to right now.

What if they hate my toes?

I realize these aren’t fat specific concerns, but they were mine. As someone who’d never had a pedicure before, I was worried about how the employees would react to me. I don’t have terribly rough feet, but my nails sure aren’t pretty. I was actually much more self conscious about my toes going into the shop than I’d anticipated.

So, I took my shoes off and got up into the chair. I struggled a little bit with the logistics of getting up into the chair. They don’t have a lot of room on the built in foot stools for my super fat clumsy bod to stand up and turn around to get comfy, but I managed. My feet were immediately submerged in hot water. Which feels real nice, I really should be soaking my feet more. I was excited for my toes to be hidden.

As it came time for me to take them out and show these bad boys to the pedicurist, a tall bearded customer came in and sat down for a pedicure in the chair next to me. He was rough around the edges, not a clean cut guy. I peaked at his feet and he had some seriously gnarly callouses all over. His toenails had definitely been neglected for a while. When the employee asked which service he wanted the man chimed in with a matter of fact tone (without looking at the menu I might add) “I’ll just get the Bronze today please.”

This disheveled looking fella knew exactly what he wanted because he’s done this before!

Not only did he have some rough looking feet, he was totally unashamed. I felt such a wave of relief. All different kinds of people come in for pedicures. It sounds simple, but I really felt much more at ease knowing for sure that my feet weren’t a problem. It made me feel like my fat body wasn’t a problem either.

(There’s definitely some shit here that I need to deal with in regards to growing up in poverty and not feeling deserving of these kinds of services…but that’s for another article).

The Stool/Peddle Sitch

Okay, admittedly this was a bit difficult. The chairs are built with fixed stools attached at the front. The peddle cannot be moved. What I did find out though, was that these chairs are actually massage chairs. Who knew? (Okay, probably a lot of folks). The remote for the massage chair also had a button to push the chair back or forward.

I made the chair go as far back as I could, so I could have more room between the chair and the peddle and have enough space to lift my legs up and out of the water when I needed to. Unfortunately, being short, I did find that my ankles didn’t fit super comfortably rested on the pad like my partners clearly did.

Thankfully, the pedicurist could see me struggling every time I had to take a foot out of water and put another foot down back in. He actually started helping me by gently holding my foot to guide it into the water so that I wouldn’t keep getting it caught on the pad. He was incredibly sweet about it. This made me feel such relief.

Problem Solving

Something I will do differently next time I go when I’m more confident is actually adjust my body in ways that give me more access and ability to move. I’m basically talking about my belly. My lower belly tends to get in the way of me being able to put my legs close together. This can be difficult when it comes to having them up on the pad, because it was only about a foot and a half in width, and my legs don’t naturally sit that closely together.

In these situations, the idea is that I’m supposed to be relaxed, right? I want to feel comfortable and present with my self care activities. I don’t want to have tense thigh muscles on the verge of cramping because I’m trying to hold my legs together to have my feet stay planted on the pad! Had I felt confident enough to take my time with it, I would have taken the second to adjust my belly out of the way each time that I lifted a leg up out of the water. This thoughtful action could have relieved some serious tension I was feeling.

In conclusion, pedicures are pretty dreamy. I enjoyed feeling pampered, something I rarely allow myself to try. Having internalized fatphobia often leaves me terrified of asking people to even touch my body. But why? My body deserves kindness, care, and intentionality.

I definitely see more pedicures in my future. What are some self care activities that you’ve always wanted to try? Does fear of not fitting into a space hold you back from trying new things?


  • Becca Littlewood December 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I am in the UK and although wouldn’t be classed as ‘Super-Fat’, I am a UK size 20 and at 5’11” have always stood out in a crowd and i had never, ever done anything for my own personal self care. I too, went for a pedicure last week for the first time. I went to the place I’ve been getting my hair done since I was a kid, my mums best friend owns the place but I was so petrified of sitting in the chair/having someone touch my leg/foot that i broke down and cried. They were obviously lovely, but couldn’t understand the shame, anxiety and terror I felt doing something they felt was normal.

    Thank you for talking about these things. Thank you for being honest about your fears. Thank you to both yourself and your lovely lady for being such amazingly positive people. I hope that one day I will accept my body for what it is because I’ve spent so long trying to be a square when I am quite plainly a circle.

    Sorry for rambling and i hope that you both have a wonderfully positive day.

    • JAprileo December 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      thank you so much for the love and support, friend. I’m sorry you had a challenging experience. Do what feels comfortable and keep working on that self love and advocacy. You deserve great things.

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