In Painted Nails we witness the American dream crumble when Van, a Vietnamese nail salon worker, discovers her health problems, including two miscarriages, are the result of toxic chemicals in the products used in her salon. She courageously becomes involved in the fight for safe cosmetics.
Painted Nails enters the rich culture of Vietnamese-American Van Hoang’s bustling nail salon in the Mission District of San Francisco. The salon caters to a diverse clientele, women of African American, European, Latino, and Asian ethnicities, who come not only for the acrylic nails with original designs—each a miniature painting that might include gold stars, glittering palm fronds, or frolicking blue dolphins—but also for the caring environment. The salon clients beam as they hold up their vividly colored talons for the camera, in a proud display of their identity as women.
Through the advocacy of nail salon safety groups and the media, the world becomes aware of the toxic chemicals in nail products. The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and Women’s Voices for the Earth invite Van to be a candidate to testify in Washington, DC. In front of the congressional and environmental protection agency staff and the opposing cosmetic industry, Van advocates for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act with testimony marked by tears she fights to keep back, but which make her words all the more powerful.
Major loopholes in the U.S. federal law dating back to 1938 allow the 50-billion-dollar cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products with no required testing, monitoring of health effects, or labeling requirements. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act is designed to give the U.S. FDA authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients and that ingredients are fully disclosed. Van was among the first workers to testify against the cosmetic industry in over 30 years.
Van intends to protect her unborn child, her own health, the health of her family and other salon workers. She wants the world to care about the dangers she and others, who are largely immigrants from Vietnam and other Asian countries, have been facing from unregulated chemicals. Unraveled are the layers of a seemingly shy woman from Vietnam, who realizes she has something powerful to share with the world.
Painted Nails is presented by DigAll Media, a 501(c)(3) San Francisco based non-profit organization, was organized to create media, which deepen public understanding of issues that affect our lives, expand cultural, environmental and global awareness, educate a diverse population, empower the disenfranchised, and initiate personal and social change.
DigAll Media Presents “PAINTED NAILS” Featuring VAN HOANG AND TRIET DANG Associate Producer NHUNG PHAM Music By VANESSA VO, LE CAT TRONG LY, NGUYÊN LÊ Color Finishing GARY COATES Sound Designer and Mixer DAVE NELSON Directed and Produced by ERICA JORDAN AND DIANNE GRIFFIN