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Man Who Grew Up Getting Help From A Food Bank Shares Why It’s Important For Moms On Food Stamps To Get Their Nails Done

Photo: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock
young woman getting her nails done by a manicurist in a beauty salon

On average, 41.2 million people in 21.6 million households receive monthly SNAP benefits in a year, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet, there is still such a stigma around people who receive government aid, especially if they choose to spend money on treating themselves.

However, a man named Eric Thompson, who grew up getting help from a food bank, provided the most beautiful and heartwarming response to anyone who casts judgment on how people choose to spend their money despite receiving SNAP benefits, especially if it's in the form of self-care.

He shared why it's important for moms on food stamps to get their nails done.

In a post written on X, Thompson, an author who grew up in Philomath, Oregon, and now lives in Portland, had been raised by a single, immigrant mother. It was through his experience that he learned of the generosity that came from those around him, and their church community.

"When I was a kid we had to go to a church food bank to receive free ramen, mac & cheese, hamburger helper (without the hamburger) & other such items. I never felt 'less than' but I also never knew who provided what we were gifted," Thompson wrote, sharing this piece of his life with the 950,000 people who viewed his post. 

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He explained that once, members of the church gifted his mother a car after she struggled to replace the one that had broken down. He recalled that the car was an old, green Chevy Nova, and neither he nor his mother knew who exactly in the church had bought it. 

In another instance, a church member once bought Thompson a new pair of pajamas just because they thought he should have them, while someone else had purchased a backpack for him so he'd be able to join his friends on a camping trip. Without putting him or his mother down, kind strangers noticed the things they both needed and helped, without question, or expecting anything in return. They just wanted him and his mother to have something good in their lives.

"Today I saw posts of people questioning moms who use food stamps and yet have their nails done. My mom was mistreated by her grandfather, her father, and my dad who left," he revealed. This new observation has caused Thompson to reflect on the times he'd noticed that his mother had makeup or nice nails.

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Man Shares Why It’s Important For Moms On Food Stamps To Get Their Nails DonePhoto: pproman / Canva Pro

He often told her that it was good that she was treating herself and that she wholeheartedly deserved it because "life has kicked you down and you deserve a little something to hold your head high about. Go on and feel pretty. Because you are beautiful to me."

"So you can sit there and judge that woman using food stamps and having nice nails. Or you can ask her if there's anything she needs or simply just tell her she looks nice. Chances are she needs to hear it. Dignity - everyone deserves it. Spread a little"

It shouldn't matter that someone using SNAP benefits takes the time to enjoy simple luxuries of life.

This notion that people on SNAP benefits or living in low-income environments shouldn't get to engage in self-care activities, like getting their hair done, their nails done, buying makeup products, or indulging in any other form of personal pampering is rooted in such a harmful stereotype about living in poverty and human dignity.

Who are we to judge and shame a woman for getting her nails done just because she's receiving SNAP benefits? The answer is rather simple — we have no right. And instead of shaming and furthering these ideas of what people in poverty should look and act like, we can instead offer a hand to those who need it.

Just like the church members who helped Thompson and his mother, without saying anything, but just knowing that they needed it, we should all take a page out of their book. No good comes from denying people any ounce of happiness in this chaotic life that we're all living.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.