Health

Breastaurants Are the Worstaurants, Study Says

Research shows waitressing at sexually objectifying eateries can affect women’s mental health.
July 20, 2017, 3:57pm
Photo via Flickr user 

ThisParticularGreg

A study out of University of Tennessee has supported a claim we made years ago: Breastaurants are the worstaurants. Published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, research interviews with 252 female servers found that those working at "sexually objectifying restaurant environments" were more likely to experience anxiety and abnormal eating.

If you don't know what a "breastaurant" is, some of the more popular chains of this type are Hooters, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, and Twin Peaks. At these eateries, female servers wear sexualized uniforms such as bras, crop-tops, and short skirts or shorts. The University of Tennessee study looked at women working at both regular restaurants and breastaurants.

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"Some women are immersed in subcultures and settings where treating women as sex objects is not only promoted but culturally sanctioned," one of the authors of the study, Dawn M. Szymanski, said in an interview with PsyPost. "One example of this is the so-called 'breastaurants' that put women's bodies and sexuality on display and elicit and approve of the male gaze."

As part of the study, women servers ages 18 to 66 answered yes or no questions about their work. Some of the studies' questions were pointed around sexualization in working environments, such as asking if women were expected to wear revealing uniforms and about behaviour they encountered from customers, such as staring.

In an interview with VICE Canada, an ex-waitress at a breastaurant—who quit after being asked to take off a sweater she was wearing because she was cold—described the environment she worked in. "It's just like a cesspool: You get stuck just drinking and partying because that's the type of environment you're in," she said. "So it does obviously fuck you up as a person a little bit."

Another woman interviewed who previously worked in management at a breastaurant said that waitresses gaining weight could result in firing. One female server at the eatery she worked at was fired after gaining 15 pounds. The ex-manager also claimed that a male superior sexually harassed her on the job: "He opens the back of my dress and just kind of does an, 'Ooooh!' I'm just standing there like, What the fuck just happened?"

Study authors said that their research results show the importance of understanding mental health problems of women servers: "These findings underscore the need to implement both system-level and individual-level interventions to combat the existence of [sexually objectifying restaurant environments] and the negative effects these environments may have on women who work in the industry."

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