“Undercover Boss,” is a CBS reality TV series in which top leaders of real organizations’ don disguises and reenter their own companies as line-level employees in order to see operations from the bottom-up. For many of these execs the experience is eye-opening and transformative. The show’s latest episode was apparently just eye-opening.
This past Sunday the program featured Doug Guller, Founder and CEO of Bikini’s Sports Bar and Grill, an eight-restaurant chain located in Texas, whose theme is “Sports with a View.” As the name and slogan suggest, waitresses are hired for their looks and are required to wear a standard uniform, namely a bikini top.
During the episode, which I haven’t watched, Guller reportedly became upset with one particular waitress who insisted on wearing a t-shirt instead of a bikini top. Although she didn’t oppose the required attire under normal business circumstances, she didn’t want to wear the bikini top while a TV camera crew was filming. Unsympathetic to her concerns, Guller fired her.
Social media and other news media lit-up in response to Guller’s decision, rightly decrying what many people felt was a heartless action. Beyond Guller’s cruel treatment of this waitress, however, are more fundamental questions: What about the ongoing sexist treatment of all of the other servers? Should restaurants that require servers to bare their bodies even exist?
Unfortunately there does appear to be a market for such restaurants, as evidenced by the success of Guller’s Bikini’s Sports Bar and Grill chain as well as Hooters, Inc., which has hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. and around the world. Of course, the fact that “breastaurants” are successful doesn’t mean that they should be.
In short, these restaurants objectify and sexually exploit women. They take a whole person (a wonderful combination of body, mind, and spirit) and reduce her to a few anatomical parts, put on display for unseemly public consumption. Furthermore, it’s unfortunately not just the women who serve in these establishments who are affected. Ultimately the promotion of these sexual stereotypes impacts an entire society.
So, would you eat at a “breastaurant”? Hopefully you say “no” to this and other forms of "Single-Minded Marketing."