Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice ... Little Girls Are Watching Us

(Girl in Easter Dress)

 (Girl in Pink) 

We may think our little girls aren't watching the world around them.  That our sugar and spice and everything nice angels are living in this safe, innocent world we created with no chance of being touched by the negative images of women and society's perceptions of beauty.  Hoping that when they grow up they would be judged by their character and not their bra cup.

Reality sets in when we notice their curious eyes soaking in the sights and sounds from inside their booster seat in the family caravan.  Or we catch a puzzled stare at a weight loss television commercial bogarting the airwaves during an iCarly episode.

(Chubby Cheeks)



Billboards, magazine covers, reality shows and even the seductive poses of store mannequins are all competing for their attention. What will they think when the family caravan stop at a traffic light and they see this?

They see the Hooter Girls posing for photos with men and only men. Ten and 15 years earlier these same Hooter girls watched us.  Did we give them the right messages about beauty and self-esteem? 


Did we empower them with strength to be themselves and not follow the crowd?  Did we show them we're not sex objects and should be treated with respect?  Did we tell them that they can pursue any dream with determination and hard work?  

Did they see the women astronauts, Mission Specialists on the Orbiter Vehicle Endeavor, Dr. Mae C. Jemison and Jan Davis?  Did they see the stay-at-home mom who home-schooled her children--  or see the judge and bakery owner volunteer at a soup kitchen?  Did they meet enough women carpenters, mechanics, architects and writers?


Kiki here, and right now our iCafe Woman Moderne patrons of our virtual cafe are venting inside about the television show, "Undercover Boss" airing last Sunday (Valentine's Day) and featured the CEO of the Hooters Restaurant Chain, Coby Brooks.  He went undercover to find out how his company functioned behind the scenes.

When he asked women on the street what they thought of Hooters, they echoed what many women have voiced since opening their doors in 1983.  It's not a family restaurant but, more importantly, the servers' attire and the Boys Club atmosphere starting with the name "Hooters" degrade women.


 (Coby Brooks CEO of Hooters Restaurant  - Undercover)

The servers said, they didn't feel degraded.  They loved their jobs and didn't see any difference in wearing the Hooters outfit and wearing a bathing suit, except they felt more covered up in their Hooters outfit.

I watched "Undercover Boss" with hopeful anticipation that changes would be made starting with the attire.

I've eaten at Hooters and enjoyed the food, but not the atmosphere.  The servers' shorts barely cover their hips and the tops are tight and revealing.  It was mostly full of men.  I didn't see a table of women hanging out after work.  The few women there were with men, but there were no families.  It had a bachelor party feel to the place. 

A special on buffalo wings (one of my favorites) drew me to the restaurant with my husband while vacationing.  We dined on the Hooters patio and gazed at the scenic waterfront that thankfully blocked out the noise and locker room atmosphere. 

On "Undercover Boss," Jimbo, a Texas manager, decided to make the girls do a bean eating contest without hands to determine who would leave work early.  He called it the Reindeer Game.  Before that, he inspected them like they were cattle ready to be slaughter, instead of treating them like the beautiful flowers they are.

I'm very disappointed in the CEO.  I thought that once he returned to his corporate life he'd change the servers' attire to bring more families to the restaurant.  I was hoping for longer shorts or skorts and classier tops.  

That of course didn't happen.  Jimbo, who degraded the girls, was only told to apologize and to become more respectful and politically correct in his management style.  That's it.  No probation.  No suspension.  No sensitivity training.  Nothing.  He should have been fired or at least made to do his own Reindeer Game wearing a Hooters outfit customized for his full figure.

His reasoning for the game, they were prima donnas and  needed to be knocked down a peg.   He said, they needed a taste of the real world.   It left a sour taste in my mouth that no peppermint could sweeten.

Our little girls are watching and some are copying before they even get to the teen years.  Case in point, a few days ago on the Wendy Williams show, a hot topic discussed was a new fashion trend for girls ages 9 to 13 -- lingerie designed for tween girls. I kid you not.


Our little girls are watching, we have to do better.  How will you answer when she asks Mommy, Auntie, Grandmom ... what's a hooter?


Dove's Real Beauty campaign and the growing number of self esteem books for girls, tweens and teens hitting the shelves give me hope.

In 2004, Dove released a study they used as a spring
board to launch their Campaign for Real Beauty.  Here are the findings:
  • Only two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful.
  • Sixty-three percent strongly agree that society expects women to enhance their physical attractiveness. Forty-five percent of women feel women who are more beautiful have greater opportunities in life.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most woman can't ever achieve."
  • The majority (76%) wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
  • Seventy-five percent went on to say that they wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including age, shape and size.

Drop Dead Diva, a new series on the Lifetime produced an episode where a recently divorced mother was fired from a restaurant because she gained weight and no longer looked the way the owner wanted his servers to look.  Did Hooters inspire this storyline? 

Little girls are watching, can we afford to hide our heads in the sand? We need to give them strong, confident women working their dreams and being positive role models for those curious eyes, which are also what little girls are made of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gayle: Your thoughts on that show, and the concept, mirror my thoughts precisely! You have put it more graciously into words than I could ever do. Our only defense against insensitive businesses like this is to boycott their businesses, and do our best to raise confident young women that know better to stand up to such degradation!