Friday, May 01, 2009

All Fired Up

When I first heard of the bikini baristas a while ago I thought, yeah - this will blow over like yesterday’s news, thinking that it was, quite possibly just a slow news day around The Sound. Then Stephanie wrote about it here and I thought again, okay, obviously this is not going away - but it hasn’t really creeped into my coffee-getting ways yet, so hey - maybe this isn’t something I really care about.

Then I heard this out of my daughter’s mouth while driving past a local “sexpresso” stand the other day: Hey mom! Look, that girl is in her underwear. Why is she in her underwear?

Fabulous. That bubble I had been hoping to raise my daughter in has apparently sprung a leak.

And it was then that I knew that my war with the bikini baristas had just begun.

A little back story here, I used to be a barista. What does this mean? It means that I was Tully’s trained and can whip up a mean pot of coffee and a shot of espresso with the perfect amount of crema on top. I find great value in the perfecting of foam and the mixology involved with creating a unique flavor. I also know that there is a fair amount of skill involved in doing these things and to me, I really don’t care if you look like Cindy Crawford or John Belushi, if you can make a mean latte or a dry cappuccino, I’m yours.

That being said, there is little emphasis on quality in many of the drive-by espresso stands that litter the sides of our roads. Sure there are some who actually care about the beverages they are handing over to their customers for the price of a weeks worth of groceries, but many do not. If I want a good caffeine fix, I know exactly where to go to get it and I am fully aware that I am taking my chances pulling up to one of the roadside stands.

But the chance of bad coffee, not a peep show, is all I want to be concerned about.

Some compare the scantily-clad baristas to girls on the beach. Okay, fine. But seriously, tell me you wouldn’t you be just a little bit uncomfortable pulling up and ordering a mocha from a sixteen-year-old wearing less fabric than your own undergarments? And what if you have kids in the car? Double ick, in my opinion.

Some say, this is no big deal in Europe - that we all need to loosen up a bit and not be so offended by the display of the human body. Well, I got news for you folk, I love and appreciate the human body just as much as the next person, but hello - this is not Europe (although, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?). Our culture is not one of “hey, it’s just a body - get over yourself.” It is one of “hey it’s a body, let’s sexualize it as much as we can and make as much money off it as we can.” As much as I wish it were different, we live in America, land of the free, home of the boobies (real and artificial). That, is where my problem lies.

I want to teach my children that their bodies are beautiful, that all bodies are beautiful and should be treated with respect and admiration for all of their perfections and imperfections. But our society does not see it that way, which makes it a very hard uphill battle for those who want otherwise.

How do we teach our daughters and our sons that women aren’t sexual objects when they are slapped in our face that way every chance they get?

Of course, there is the whole “freedom” and “constitutional right” angle to the argument as well, and I respect that wholeheartedly. But I can’t honestly sit here and say that I would be supportive of a coffee stand in my town that chose to go down that path, even if the barista made the greatest macchiato this side of Italy.

I can’t do that because of what it teaches my daughter and my sons. I can’t do that because although I feel everyone has a right to express themselves in any way they wish - our culture is just not there yet, even though we wish it were.

Therein lies the struggle. How do we support freedom and individuality at the same time teaching our children the morals and values and self respect that we so want them to have? How do we teach them to stand up for what they believe while not supporting the freedom of expression (if that is what it really is) of others?

Most of all, why does it have to be so hard? I read all of the time of the struggles people had to go through for social, political and environmental change and I wonder, is this one of those things we have to overcome? Is this just another roadblock on our way to a society that loves women for being women, not for being what we are told is beautiful or sexy? Is this it?

Someone please, hand me a guidebook.

*Originally posted at Seattle Mom Blogs, July, 2008. Resurrected because I received this comment today, from someone with an invalid email address:

"Honestly, Carrie and your crew need to chill out. These girls work at BIKINI stands. Bikini. BIKINI. If that seems to be a problem, I feel so bad for your children because they will be deprived of things such as the BEACH. You can say.. "oh well, we aren't at the beach." I'm sorry, but is there a law that says bikinis can only be worn at the beach? last time I checked, there wasn't. On the otherhand, I think the lingerie thongs and pasties are a bit too much. But as far as bikini stands go... suck it up! Who are you to judge these girls or their job? Really, find whoever gave you that thought that you are God Almighty and your opinion out of the billions of people in this world matters... find that person... and smack them for giving you false information. If you don't like bikini baristas... here's a smart idea.. DON'T GO. Nobody is steering your wheel for you and driving your car up to the window. So, until that day comes... grow up.. and suck it up. And no no no I do NOT work at one of these stands. However, I do know girls that do. These girls aren't nowhere as judgmental or low class as some of these people who are opposing it. GOOD DAY!"

And then the commenter proceeded to rip on Starbucks, saying they don't time their shots and were lazy espresso makers.

So, I wanted to send them an email, but the address they gave was (surprise!) no good. This is what I wrote:

"Thank you for sharing your strong opinion on my post. However, there are a few things you fail to recognize in YOUR judgements made about me. The first being that I'm not for shutting them down, or for outlawing their existence. I am for, however, a little warning in regards to their locations and proximity to places where someone not "in the know" would accidentally stumble upon them. I do think they should be subject to the same kind of regulations as other "adult" businesses, as that is what they are selling, well besides coffee - duh, an ADULT theme.

You can argue with me until you are blue in the face about it but there is no denying that is what is going on here. It isn't as if we live in South Florida, where it is so hot we need to walk around in bathing suits (or less than in a lot of cases) and pretend to sling, brew, "whip up" our coffee under the false pretenses of being comfortable in the heat. Give me a break.

As you and I both know, it isn't about the bikinis or the pasties, it's about the message that is being sent.

And my kids spend plenty of time at the beach. If you knew me in real life, or took a few moments to read more - you'd know that I'm probably one of the farthest things from a "prude" out there. each their own.

I hope you feel better for making that comment in such a grown-up manner.


If I used labels, this would be filed under: It's my blog and I can complain if I want to.

And also? A crew? A crew? Really?


Mrs. Chicken said...

Can I be part of your crew?

Kerrie said...

Isn't mixing scalding hot coffee in a bikini a health hazard? Wasn't there a McDonald's lawsuit? And, I think that person was wearing PANTS.

Good day.


OHmommy said...

raising my hand

i want in on your crew carrie!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm happy to be a card-carrying member of your crew!

Ashley said...

Sign me up.

If I didn't have kids, I might possibly be able to just ignore things like this. But that isn't the case and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.

LindaJ said...

Team Carrie!!!

Anonymous said...

Throw me a life-ring! I'm in!

It is the coarsening of our society that bugs me the most.


Ann(ie) said...

SHEEEEEESH. First of all you said it beautifully, girl ... as usual ... so I have very little to add, but I am applauding you as we speak. I too (being a fellow graduate of Tully's university) feel like rockin a fabulous java is something in itself to be proud of. Besides, I don't particulary want to innocently go get coffee with kiddos in the car in the rain b/c we DO LIVE IN SEATTLE and get the pleasure of almost nekkid people hanging out the window. Give me a break. It's totally about the message.

Kyla said...

GEEZ. Speaking of overreacting, I think that commenter did. ;)

I agree with you. Totally.

Every Day Goddess said...

WOW! Didn't they just tell you how your opinion didn't count, while shouting theirs at you? Got to love that. Your response was perfect if only they would see it.

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your crew ;)

Anonymous said...

I think this is the crazy site they buy all their pasties from.

I agree, coffee and pasties is not the best mix.

wyliekat said...

I prefer the term "posse" if that's all right by your commenter.

I wonder if said commenter has a little girl.

The thing about Europe? Yeah, they're more relaxed about these things (bikini stands, in theory) because they're by and large not as easily . . . titillated as North Americans are. They have a much more organic approach to the human body. So your server is topless? Yeah, all you have to do is go down to the local beach in many places to get an even fuller view of the deal.

Here, we make the body a dirty little secret, so someone exposing it to you as they make your coffee = a bigger deal.

All that said . . . sheesh. I thought caffeine was eye opening enough in the morning.

Kelly said...

This makes me want to vomit. I am totally not a prude, but I am the mother of two girls and am against the hyper-sexualization of every little thing in our culture. Can't coffee just be coffee? Why does it have to be some kind of sexual experience? And I don't care what anyone says. This type of crap serves only to reinforce the idea that a woman's value is held in her physical body.

Becky said...

complain away sweetie!

Mary J said...

AMEN, Carrie. I totally agree with you here. And I absolutely love your blog as it mirrors my own life with three children. Thanks for sharing such great writing.

Lisa said...

I'm not a prude either. But actually wearing a bikini in a coffee place wouldn't be smart. Coffee is hot and these girls could get burnt badly. But other than the safety issue, I'm with you in the who sexualization stuff. Why can't coffee just be coffee? And I hate the message alot of girls pick up. The whole, "it doesn't matter if you're smart, sweet or talented, if you don't have a hot body and an attractive face, you have no value." I remember picking up that message as a teen years ago. And even tho I know its bullsh*t I still get really self conscious about my figure and looks and wonder if I'm worthy because I don't look perfect. Like it got lodged up in my brain and won't get out. And I wonder how often that happens to other women. Ya know?