Joined Clubs in Pursuit of Mini Skirt Economy - Restaurants
Waitresses in almost all high-end clubs in the city wear short skirts as part of their uniform. The skirt allows them to move swiftly, but it is also meant to attract clients who frequent a place because of what they see.
The trend first started in clubs and nightclubs, but restaurants too have picked up the cue. Such restaurants have joined a booming niche industry known as ‘breastaurants’ or sports bars that feature scantily clad waitresses.
A few years back, the word barmaid would have elicited images of a buxom matronly figure. Fast-forward to today, where girls in cute little dresses sashay around with trays of drinks.
“The first time my boyfriend invited me to join him at a common bar on Kimathi Street in Nairobi, I noticed how short the waitresses’ dresses were,” says Sheila.
The couple’s friend, Mickey, insisted that the girls looked sexy and that he preferred to have his beer there.
“They add to the ambience and optical nutrition never hurt anyone,” says Mickey.
Men, who constitute a large part of the number of patrons in the bars, are not complaining and it appears that Sheila’s sentiments have been overtaken by events.
Gidraph Wairire, a senior university lecturer in sociology and social work, says the thinking behind using women to rake in higher profits is as a result of a societal misconception of women and their role.
“The decision-makers think if they get a woman of fair complexion or if she dons short clothes, the profits will flow faster.
“But the wholeness of a woman is not limited to fairer skin or outward beauty,” notes Dr Wairire.
He faults society for the creation of this 21st century woman who is expected to meet unrealistic demands in order to be felt, seen, and heard.
“In the end, individuals are compelled to take strict measures to meet these demands,” explains Wairire. Girls with a darker complexion lose their self-esteem and can be affected psychologically as they have to fight for space with their fairer-skinned counterparts, resulting in drastic actions such as bleaching their skins,” says Wairire.
He also notes that a rising number of companies, especially in the hospitality industry, have embraced short dresses, which he perceives as sexualisation of services.
“This trend is catching up on our roads too, with women hawkers. Some have realised that if they wear short, figure-hugging clothes that bring out their curves, they will grab the attention of the male clientelle.
“Some local airlines are notorious for dressing their female cabin crew in micro-minis. The discomfort of the poor girl as she keeps tugging at her little skirt as it rides up, especially when she sits down, is evident,” he says.
Too much skin
He says this phenomenon is caused by a societal misconception of what influences a woman to be an effective role changer.
So, is it necessary for a woman to show a lot of skin to win both as an individual and in the court of public opinion? Sheila says she feels that women are being used.
“Men will drink beer whether they are served by a girl in a long or short dress,” she says. “I find it inappropriate that these young girls are made to showcase their bodies in the name of working,” says Sheila.
Wairire says a growing number of young women have bought into the misconception that the more flesh they reveal, the more effective they will be.
But this seems to work more against women than men. Unless a man is a stripper, few professions require a man to expose his masculinity.
The misconception seems to be accepted because of the way society has sexualised services.
“Beauty opens doors but how the individual communicates, their intellect or how they are able to express themselves is what keeps those doors open,” says Wairire.
No doubt men are visual by nature and many of them have been known to frequent bars where girls wear short dresses.
“Once in a while, my boys and I enjoy going to strip clubs. On a bad day it might end up in a ‘happy ending’ but most of the time we are just there to admire and appreciate the female body,” confesses Larry.
However, he says he cannot take his girlfriend to a strip club as it would be disrespectful.
“I cannot even tell her that I go to strips clubs unless I want to be dumped,” he says.
Wairire explains that men are sexual animals. “The sexual instinct of a male is quickly aroused and put into action by what he sees. This could probably explain why entrepreneurs nowadays lean towards scantily dressed models to sell their wares.”
He warns that this perception has the potential to make a woman want to appear and feel like a sex object for her services to be appreciated.
However, he says this strategy cannot work in some circumstances. He points out that women parliamentarians cannot afford to dress scantily, especially when asking for votes.
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