The Subtle Problem with 'Breastaurants'

July 7th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Working in an environment where you're sexually objectified is, perhaps unsurprisingly, bad for one's mental health.


Researchers at the University of Tennessee just released a study that found people who work at "breastaurants"—dining facilities that feature scantily clad waitresses—are more likely to report suffering from anxiety and eating disorders.

Researchers interviewed about 250 servers who work in "sexually objectifying restaurant environments," or SOREs. Those surveyed said that while they accepted jobs at "breastaurant" chains like Hooters and Twin Peaks because of the extra money and greater work schedule flexibility, the jobs also entailed being harrased by patrons.

twin peaks

"All the waitresses in our study reported feeling a host of negative emotions tied to these experiences: Anxiety, anger, sadness, depressed mood, confusion, and degradation," the researchers behind the study wrote in an editorial for Good. The waitresses also said they felt "frustrated by demeaning and challenging interactions with customers" and "poor relationships with unsupportive and competitive colleagues."

The combined experience of being objectified by customers and feeling unsupported by colleagues led the waitresses to feel like they had "less organizational power and status in the restaurant than men, which in turn was related to a lack of personal power and control in that setting," Dawn Szymanski, the study's lead author, told PsyPost.

"This lack of both organizational and personal power was then related to more rumination, which in turn is was related to more anxiety and disordered eating. Our findings reveal the important role that contextual factors may have on waitresses’ coping responses and mental health symptoms."

Twin Peaks

So long as sexual objectification is the business model, these problems are likely to persist. The researchers concluded that their findings reflect a growing need to "combat the existence of SOREs and the negative effects these environments may have on women who work in the industry."

In spite of the increased attention being paid to breastaurants and their workers, however, the demand for these institutions remains high.

Sales at Hooters—the best known national breastaurant chain—might have been flat over the past few years, but competitors such as Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt have seen soaring sales, enabling them to expand their chains. For now, at least, breastaurants are here to stay.