As a Body Image & Self-Esteem Coach, I wanted to know how sexual objectification affected women's mental health. I ended up running across this study conducted by the University of Tennessee Psychology Department about the effects of mental health on Hooters waitresses. Since its founding year in 1983, Hooters has been a restaurant designed with the female anatomy as the tool for attracting business. The "breastaurant" industry is maintained by sexually objectifying women's bodies and I wanted to know how this affected the women working there. See my video about Hooters waitresses share their mental health struggles, or read the notes below.
What is Sexual Objectification?
It's when you are treated as an object of sexual desire rather than a human being. It's when the sum total of who you are as a person is equated to how sexually satisfying you appear.
I think almost every woman has engaged in the practice of sexually objectifying themselves and there's a study from NYU that actually show when media and entertainment sexually objectify women and men's bodies, those who watch are more likely to self-objectify. We began to be influenced by the imagery and develop patterns like body monitoring, obsessive mirror-looking, and other OCD type of behaviors.
So let's talk about the women who work in these places of business where they are often objectified and paid to be sexy. There was a study done for Hooters waitresses that we're going to take a look at.
Hooters Waitresses Share Mental Health Struggles
In 2015, faculty from the University of Tennessee's psychology department set out to find what kind of consequences working in this environment had on waitress's mental health, and the findings were pretty disturbing (via The Conversation). This is a study done by The Conversation.com titled, "What's the Psychological Toll of Being a Hooters Waitress?" We can also conclude from this study that there is a psychological toll that sexiness and being objectified have on a woman.
So these are some key points that this study showed. Participants reported that the main reasons they chose to work and remain employed at the breastaurant were (1) to make more money than they could have otherwise, and (2) to have a high degree of flexibility in creating their work schedule.
Places like breastaurants emphasize women’s bodies while suppressing their humanity and individuality. Here is what the study revealed from the Hooter's waitresses:
1. The more their bodies and sexuality were put on display, the less happy they were with their jobs.
2. They dealt with depression, anger, anxiety, ambivalence, competition from colleagues, & disrespect & unwanted attention from customers.
3. They were also far more likely to internalize cultural standards of beauty, experience symptoms of depression, and were more likely to be dissatisfied with their job.
4. They increased body monitoring and body shame.
When you're in an environment that is built on a lust for women, what good can truly come out of it? Now not everyone is a believer and going to agree with me here, but God has a moral law for a reason--to provide a healthy and whole environment for humanity to thrive in while journeying through the earth. I've mentioned before how God called us to be the crown over all of His creation, to rule & have dominion over what He made, and to partner with God to see His kingdom on earth. However, because humans have free will, we take that dominion that God gave us, & instead of using it for His glory, we use it for our own selfish desires. A man saw an opportunity to profit from the bodies of young women and dangle them before lustful men.
It's the patriarchal archetype folks. Using beautiful young women to serve the passions of men, while getting unwanted attention and often disrespectful and vulgar gestures from them. That's somebodies daughter! Could be yours!
But What If Some Women Enjoy Working at Hooters?
So we learned that these women at Hooters experienced bouts of depression and anxiety working in an environment where they're objectified. Now I know this isn't everyone's case, there are some women who may comment and say it helps their mental health. But regardless of if you like it or don't, God didn't create you for it. Your body is designed to be a temple of His holy spirit so that you can partner with God to see His kingdom come on earth. But instead, you've partnered with satan so that he may continue to steal, kill, & destroy destinies. Uncontrolled passion and lust are the reasons why children have their innocence stolen, it's why the sex-trafficking industry continues to profit, it's why marriages end due to adultery and sex addiction. Yea, you might like how this environment makes you feel but understand the spirit at work within you is out to destroy you and those you're called to love. It's the love of money that's the root of all types of evil, and this is a type of evil that sexually objectifies and exploits women who are created in the image of God.
Because of systems in place like this, we tend to self-objectify our own bodies. Self-objectification is a form of self-hatred. It causes women & girls to turn against their own bodies and accept the identity of another. Rather than loving ourselves as ourselves, we hate what we are & body shame, compare, & covet. This depletes mental health & further leads to body dysmorphia, eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. These are not godly attributes. God is glorified when we find satisfaction in Him and, contrary to popular belief when we are being ourselves.
People applaud Bhad Babie, the "cash me outside" girl for making over 50 million on Only Fans, but I bet you didn't know she was in rehab for popping pills to keep her sanity. These women are suffering even if they put themselves up to the task, we should pray for them.
I hope this video has opened your eyes to another side of the industry. I pray that you decide to repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ, that He may heal you and give you the purpose He created you for. Click the link if you're ready to make a change and become the woman God desires you to be!