Safe Dining Spaces

Your family walks into a casual grill, prepared for a sit down lunch without fear of unfriendly or invasive exposure to another’s entire anatomical being. That’s why sleeves were invented. And closed toe shoes. Now I’m not saying that skin is inappropriate or that I condone society’s sexist nature and accusatory stance on (primarily) female dress codes, but there is a time and place to show off your body. When I’m trying to eat, and stay hungry, however, it is not that time nor place. A beach bar, perhaps, I might look beyond your hairy armpits and abhorrent ten toes. But the restaurant business was not built to accommodate men with an admirably intense lack of regard for personal presentation, appearance, and who have abandoned the idea of conservatism in public spaces. Putting restrictions and dress codes in any setting in modern society raises questions about sexist motives or bias towards certain genders or features. This case, however, has nothing to do with “distractions” or offensiveness or inappropriatness (unlike in the education industry, where “In the U.S., more than half of public schools have dress codes [where] students are beginning to push back on ones they deem discriminatory”(The NY Times 2018).

This issue does not challenge self expression nor does it condemn those who choose to wear less. It is an issue of respect and public decency. Through (much needed) activism and progression in women’s rights, modesty has become a word of not only insignificance but comes under great scrutiny. Although corrupted by intense political and religious motivation, the word is no more offensive than adopting a mindset of dressing to impress. “Modesty is about a person, male or female, choosing to foster an inner spirit of humility and dignity, and communicating that in outward, culturally contextualized symbols of dress and behavior”(The Atlantic 2021). 

More specifically, we as a society need to discuss acceptable dress codes for men. Pressure is often placed on women for being too promiscuous. The difference between men and women is that women are scrutinized for being too attractive-men need to consider covering up to save my eyes and stomach a little bit of pain. Especially in public restaurants. Very probably a nonexistent issue if the male species adopted proper hygienic procedures, tank tops, flip flops, or anything of the stringy sort I deem unacceptable around food. This kind of dress (again with the exception of summer vacation destinations) is blatantly contradictory to an often formal and dark restaurant setting, which screams disrespect and a lack of regard for their surroundings. Us women aren’t usually planning on harassing you for your shoulders being out, all we want is to eat in peace.