Culture

I Stand with Bikini-Wearing Baristas

(Photo: Piotr Marcinski/Dreamstime)
Having coffee served by women in bikinis isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be, but it shouldn’t be banned.

Baristas in Washington state are suing for their right to serve coffee in bikinis after their city passed an ordinance demanding that they cover up — and I stand with them.

According to an article in the Seattle Times, a group of women who make a living serving coffee in their swimwear filed a lawsuit against the city of Everett on Monday, claiming that new ordinances banning “quick service” restaurant employees from showing their bare shoulders, stomachs and butts violated their constitutional rights to privacy and free expression.

“This is not about the bikini,” attorney Schuyler Lifschultz told the Times. “It’s about women’s rights and the U.S. Constitution.”

Now, according to the Times, the City Council’s vote to pass these dumb ordinances was actually unanimous – which suggests that there are some people who really don’t like to have coffee served to them by people in beachwear.

So . . . does this change things? I mean, without the government stepping in and banning people from serving coffee in bikinis, what are the people who don’t want to have coffee served to them by people in bikinis supposed to do? Wait, I’ve got it! Not f***ing go there, then! Make your own damn coffee, or go to one of the approximately 9 million other places where people serve coffee with tons of clothes on, sometimes even aprons and hats! This way, the people who want coffee from half-naked baristas can go to the places that do that, and the people who don’t can go to the places that don’t do that! Wow, it’s almost as if the government did not need to pass business-crushing regulations to solve what the free market is already solving on its own. (How strange!)

Bikini-coffee isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be. Personally, I’ve always been cool with drinking whatever free garbage office-coffee happens to be around (without even bothering to put milk in it) because I use it like a drug for functional purposes. I don’t want to go to a bikini-clad barista, not because she is bikini-clad, but because I would rather not have to actually go anywhere when I can just jack up my brain for free, right next to my desk.

But not everyone feels like I do. Other people do want a side of naked shoulders with their coffee, and that’s fine, too. In fact, the lawsuit claims that wearing bikinis to serve coffee allows these baristas to “express messages of freedom, empowerment, openness, acceptance, approachability, vulnerability, and individuality” that they couldn’t express with more clothes on.

Is that true? It doesn’t matter, because the government shouldn’t have the right to tell you when and where you can and cannot wear a damn bathing suit. An individual business should, but a government shouldn’t.

The City Council, of course, provided a whole host of dumb reasons to justify the rules: The uniform “lends itself to criminal conduct” (OMG, YOU ARE RIGHT, WOMEN CHOOSING FOR THEMSELVES TO WORK IN A PLACE WHERE THEY WEAR BIKINIS TOTALLY MAKES EVERYONE NOT SAFE), it could “have adverse impacts upon minors” (I WOULD HAVE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, DAD, BUT THERE ARE BUSINESSES OUT THERE WHERE WOMEN SERVE COFFEES IN BIKINIS AND THEIR VERY EXISTENCE LED TO MY DEMISE), and that it “is closely and customarily associated with adult entertainment and adult situations.”

Now, that last one really is a kicker — because it suggests that a bikini is inappropriate in itself, regardless of whether or not it’s being worn in a restaurant. Using this logic, couldn’t the city government also move to ban bikinis at beaches? After all, there are families there, and it might not be the best place to have people around wearing clothing that “is closely and customarily associated with adult entertainment.” It may seem unlikely, but nothing the government does surprises me anymore . . . and I think we’d better stop this kind of thinking in its tracks before we’re forced to have to try to tan wearing wetsuits and goggles.

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