The other day, I noticed my neighborhood's Pizzeria Uno was officially done-zo, only to be replaced by yet another illustrious Tilted Kilt, where waitress uniforms feature tiny plaid skirts and twice-cropped tops that leave very little -- if anything -- to the imagination.
Of course, where someone chooses to work, and how much of their body they feel comfortable exposing, is a matter of personal choice, and women working for their money is always something that should be respected.
But according to a new study, establishments like the Tilted Kilt and Hooters -- so-called “breastaurants" -- may be much more harmful to the mental health of the women working there.
In the study, which was recently published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, researchers Dawn M. Szymanski and Renee Mikorski observed a direct correlation between sexually objectifying restaurant environments (SOREs), and the levels of anxiety and disordered eating habits (such as food restriction) that resulted in 252 waitresses employed in the United States.
But it's not just the uniform making an impact.
Sexual objectification, lack of organizational and personal power, and the issue of gender status all play significant roles in the mental health of these women.
While the tight-fitting uniforms submit these women to being sexually objectified on the job, Syzmanski also noted that their attire makes it harder for them to receive more administrative responsibilities in comparison to their male co-workers and higher-ups.
She also told Psy Post,
Essentially, we found that working in sexually objectifying restaurant environments are not good for waitresses' psychological health. More specifically, we found that working in higher levels of sexually objectifying restaurant environments were related to more anxiety and disordered eating among waitresses.
There are, however, women who both support and enjoy these work environments -- uniform and all -- and feel comfortable showing off their bodies in the workplace.
(People) ask if we're comfortable and the answer is always 110 percent yes, because, as women, we have to be comfortable with our bodies. There is nothing we don't like about the costume. I feel good in it.
Some women prefer to keep their bodies more private and personal, while some feel confident and comfortable showing off their physique, even in a work environment.
It's certainly a matter of preference, but doing so, as Syzmanski's research shows, can have some pretty serious negative side effects that shouldn't be ignored.
Even so, it's important to note that "breastaurants" still provide women with well-paying jobs.
But as these businesses become more and more successful (In 2015, Tilted Kilt, Hooters, and Brick House all saw double-digit growth, in comparison to big chain restaurants like Olive Garden.), they should keep in mind the well-being of the women they hire, and the potential mental health risks that their positions may pose.
When it comes down to it, making the decision to work at any one of these "breastaurants" is a personal choice. However, it's important to make yourself aware of the negative toll these environments can take on your psyche.
Remember: You work to live; you do not live to work. Do not compromise your personal well-being just for the sake of a paycheck.