[Beauty Overheard] So Yes, Serena Williams is a Nail Tech Now

Serena Williams Goes to Nail School

We touched on this yesterday (when Jezebel posted the video over here), but I think Serena Williams giving Oprah a pedicure deserves a closer look-see, don’t you?

First, we’ll deal with the obvious: Serena Williams is going to beauty school and blogging about it (over at Global Grind). This is going to have you asking some questions. Like, how do I handle being so awesome that even international tennis sensations are copying me? Understandable. I wonder that, too.

But it’s important to remember that as much we have in common (beauty school, blogging, awesomeness), Serena and I can be different too. Like, the tennis thing. And Serena has her own special reasons for going to beauty school.

No one likes getting their nails done more than I do.  As a matter of fact I go every 4 days to get a manicure and every 7 days for a pedicure. So, I had a brilliant idea to get certified to be a nail tech. Besides the fact that I am coming out with a nail collection from a company called HairTech, I thought “Serena this is a no brainer.”

At first I wasn’t so sure about this — did some marketing team dream up nail school as a stunt to promote this forthcoming nail collection? (You can add to your list of “Reasons Why Serena and Virginia Are Not the Same” the fact that I do not have a forthcoming nail collection, or any other beauty product deals, per the BSP Product Policy.)

But I felt better when I saw the photo above (also from Global Grind, where Serena has posted all kinds of fun in-school action shots). Because dude — that is so beauty school. Right down to the lame uniform and the rundown strip mall location. Scrubs (or cheesy aprons or faux lab coats or whatever else they make you wear) are a great equalizer. If Serena is so passionate about nails that she can do 240 hours of that, more power to her.

So back to the Oprah interview. It’s pretty funny to hear Serena talk about trying to be anonymous at nail school. (You know. On national television.) To clarify matters: The school must know who she is, because you have to show your driver’s license when you enroll. And teachers are going to call you by name. So the people she’s deflecting with “if I have a dollar for every time I heard that!” must be mostly random folks coming up to her in the hallway or whatever, not her direct classmates.

The interview gets weirder when Oprah calls her on that: “I think you actually do have a dollar for every time you’ve heard that.” Because, oh right, the other difference between Serena and me/all other beauty schoolers everywhere, is that she’s filthy rich. And Oprah wants to check in about that (“Now who handles all of your money? Who’s taking care of that?”) and make sure Serena is following her fellow-filthy-rich-person advice. (Serena: “You told me to make sure I sign every check.” Oprah, dead serious: “Yes.” Serena: “And I never forgot that.”)

Then they talk about love, and Oprah explains, “Men want to feel that they’re needed. They need to feel important. And…it’s very hard to do that with a powerful woman.”

And that’s where I got stuck. Because I’m down with Serena doing beauty school. And I’m digging the girlfriend-bonding vibe they have while she works on Oprah’s toes. I think for most of us who love beauty treatments, that’s a big part of it, whether you’re dishing with your friend in the spa chair next to you, or at home while she dyes your hair in the kitchen sink. And I hope Oprah chats so freely with the people she actually pays to give her pedicures.

But I’m thinking maybe she wouldn’t use the word “powerful.” To describe most of the women who scrub her feet.



Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, Nails

4 responses to “[Beauty Overheard] So Yes, Serena Williams is a Nail Tech Now

  1. Chandler

    I can’t believe I’m actually defending Oprah, but I have to say she is one celeb who might call her (real) nail tech “powerful.” One of the reasons for her major appeal among the soccer mom contingent is that the women she champions are often “survivors,” women who have gone through tough times, financially and/or personally, and now have a message of hope to share (“You can be like me!”), not “high achievers” who overtly celebrate their own ass-kickery and privilege (“Eat my dust!”). A single mom who puts herself through beauty school and works diligently at the nail salon to help put Jr. through college is totally the makings of an Oprah heroine.

    • Fair point. Oprah does like to champion the underdog! It was the use of “powerful” in this context (two super rich women gossiping about how oh so hard it is to be that rich and successful… while playing beauty parlor) that didn’t sit right. But I guess that’s as much a fault of the show’s editors juxtaposing those parts of the conversation together in the video clip as anything.

      • Chandler

        Yeah — I think you’re speaking to one of the big contradictions at the heart of the Oprah paradigm, which is that, as much as her show is geared to the needs and concerns of “ordinary” women, Oprah herself is no “ordinary” woman — she’s a remarkably driven and stunningly successful multimillionaire celebrity whose life doesn’t remotely resemble the ones she regularly celebrates. Which is all the more amazing given that, from what I understand, she grew up in potato-sack-wearing poverty herself. Yet unlike a lot of up-by-your-bootstraps self-made folks, she doesn’t seem to say to viewers, “The hell with this ‘spirit’ bullcrap, what you whiny chicks need is some ‘nerve.'” Instead, she appears to be sympathetic with women whose problems can be solved by a mustachioed potato with the IQ of a golden retriever (aka Dr. Phil) in less than thirty seconds (Phil: “You need to talk to your husband! There’s no communication without talkin’! That’s what communication IS!” Wife: [sniffle]).

        Is Oprah condescending to these women — using them? taking their money and laughing all the way to the bank? I find it hard to believe she isn’t. But maybe I’m just a cynic at heart. That would explain why I prefer Joan Rivers.

  2. Elise

    I have as much respect for the women (and the lone very sweet man) who do my nail services as I have for my doctor!

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