“The Acrylic Nail Biter”

Daria was a good client of mine when I lived in Chicago & for years I’d see her weekly for her acrylic nails. For those of you who aren’t aware, typically you only see the client once every 2-3 weeks when they have acrylic nails. Somehow Daria would manage to bite off the top layer of acrylic, but her own nails underneath were still in great shape. They were long & strong, but she still insisted that I coat them with acrylic, which meant I’d see her for an hour appointment each week.

Secretly I was frustrated with her! She was a thirty-something year old, beautiful, professional woman of Greek heritage. Both of her parents came over from Greece & they wanted her to date only Greek men. This was long before the movie “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” ever was conceived. I kept thinking to myself “how could she ruin all my fabulous work by biting off her acrylic”? Yet each week I kept those thoughts to myself, thankfully never showing her how frustrated I was.


One night we were the last two people in the nail salon & as I was working on her nails, she slowly revealed to me the reason why she was such a nervous wreck that she continued to bite off her acrylic nails. A few years back she’d gone out dancing with some girlfriends when she became overheated. Needing fresh air, she went outside the club & suddenly she was grabbed by a man who pulled her into an alley. He made her take off her boots & jeans, then he raped her up against the brick wall.

Afterwards when she called the police, the officer questioned her as to why she was wearing her pants inside out. Back then there was no such thing as “sensitivity training”. She was in shock, horrified by what she’d just experienced & then he asked her something so stupid. Duh, the alley was dark when she threw on her jeans as she quickly tried to get away! She suffered all kinds of humiliating questions from the detectives over the course of the investigation, not to mention having to submit to the invasive exam to gather evidence of the rape.

She’d lived with this experience for years, only telling her parents that she’d been mugged. In their traditional Greek culture, the women are expected to marry as virgins (at least all the elderly Greeks believe in that). She didn’t ever want her parents to know what had really happened to her that night. The police caught her attacker, who happened to be black, which explained her extreme dislike for black people. Who knows, I might’ve felt the same way if that had happened to me, so I tried not to judge her racism.

Anyway, the case was going to trial soon & she’d have to take the stand in front of a room full of people, describing in great detail what her rapist had done to her. Her parents, still thinking that she’d been mugged, wanted to be in court to support her. She was franticly trying to figure out how to NOT let that happen. What do you say when someone tells you something like that? Words just aren’t enough.


Unfortunately, I moved away & I never found out how her story ended. That experience taught me a valuable lesson.….. don’t assume you know what motivates clients to bite their nails. Your perception of reality is based solely on the information your clients willingly give to you, so you may never know the real reason of why they do the things they do. I really liked Daria & wonder from time to time how things turned out. I hope she’s had a better, happier life since then because she deserved it, but more importantly, I hope she’s found peace.

when you can't forgive someone


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