My daughter has entered the realm of birthday parties. Whether it’s girls from dance class, classmates from pre-school or family friends she’s been playing with for years, everyone is having a birthday party. And we’re always invited.
Personally, I like birthday parties, whether we’re throwing them or attending them. Maybe I’m just odd, but celebrations always bring a smile to my face. I’ve almost never turned down a birthday invitation. Until, of course, we got invited to a birthday dinner at Hooters.
I couldn’t help it. When I looked at the invitation, my face made this odd, contorted look of confusion and horror. “Hooters?” I asked the friend who invited us. “Oh yea,” she replied. “They do birthday parties and Sam* loves it there. They treat him like a little king!” Of course, what’s not to love about scantily clad women fawning all over your soon-to-be five-year-old?
Needless to say, my little one and turned down the birthday invitation. I feel strongly about helping my daughter respect her body and develop positive body image. The entire “Hooters” concept seems like the anti-thesis of my goals.
I considered this a one-time oddity. I figured that I was pretty mainstream in opposing children in restaurants that sell a whole lot more sex than food. Honestly, I never considered that parents would be okay with their kids seeing women prancing around in bootie shorts and low cut tops. Was that really so naive?
Then, suddenly, I noticed a couple posts on my Facebook feed about dads taking their sons to Hooters or the Tilted Kilt (another chain restaurant that’s basically Hooters in school girl uniforms). Apparently it’s adorable for boys and their dads to go stare at women’s chest together. Manly men and all that.
I talked to another mom who said she had no problem taking her two kids, age 1 and 3, to “breataurants.” “They’re so young, they won’t even remember it. What does it matter?” she asked me.
For a woman who writes down her thoughts everyday, I have to admit that I’ve had a hard time putting into words just why I’m so bothered about young children in restaurants that I believe are clearly geared towards adults. Personally, I don’t choose to give my money to establishments that use sexuality as a sales tactic. I don’t enjoy seeing women and their anatomy put on display for the viewing pleasure of a paying clientele. These companies have every right to do this, but I also have every right not to support them.
But kids? Young children who are just beginning to understand our culture and learning the ways to treat one another. I have a problem with them seeing attractive young women as pieces of meat, who need to smile and show off their bodies to earn a living. I have a problem with young boys, whether they will remember it or not, going to stare at a woman’s body with their fathers as if they proves their masculinity.
I have a problem with kids at Hooters. Or Tilted Kilt. Or Twin Peaks. Or whatever variation of female-objectifying restaurant that you can come up with.
And for birthday parties? I would rather spend a lifetime at Chuck E. Cheese than a couple hours at Hooters, pretending that I’m cool with my daughter entering an establishment that uses women’s sexuality and turns it into a commodity that’s for sale.
(Photo: Mommy Bags)