If you’ve ever been to a nail salon, you’ve probably had that uncomfortable feeling that the nail technicians are talking about you in Vietnamese. Well, most likely they are. Being Viet myself, I can definitely attest to that. Because I don’t look very Vietnamese, there have been times where the lady doing my nails would talk crap about me in Viet, only to be embarrassed when I started speaking to her in Vietnamese, too.
Lisa Pham, a customer from League City, Texas, recently had a bad experience at a Vietnamese nail salon when she walked in and a worker called Lisa “ca map.” The term means “shark” or “fat fish” and is used to call someone fat in Vietnamese slang. The technician basically announced, “Hey, the fat girl wants a mani and pedi.” Upset, Lisa walked out of the nail salon without saying anything. When ABC interviewed the worker at the salon, she explained that “ca map,” also means someone who spends a lot of money. She also said, “Whenever we work with customers, we barely speak Vietnamese so that way customers don’t feel like we’re talking behind their back.” I call B.S. because I’ve never heard “ca map” used in any other way other than to describe someone as fat. Also, rarely have I been to any nail salon where the workers aren’t talking about their customers in Vietnamese. This is a stereotype that needs to be changed in order for these nail salons to be respected as a professional business.