Taiwan McDonald's greets new year with naughty nurses!
January 6, 2014 -- Today the RocketNews24 website (Tokyo) posted a gleeful piece by Joan Coello reporting that at least one McDonald's outlet in Taiwan was celebrating the new year by having its female staff work in naughty nurse outfits. Numerous images made clear that the outfits featured, as the item noted, "mini-length nurse uniforms and thigh-high lacy stockings." The piece's text conveyed non-stop delight about this turn of events, and it made this telling observation: "Some say you can never have the best of both worlds, but from where we're sitting, these young ladies have found the golden formula to being both cute and sexy at the same time!" Yes, that golden formula does just about cover the range of female potential in the workplace! And the piece focuses on how the outfits affected male patrons, many of whom evidently expressed interest in the staffers' relationship status. Both the website item and the restaurant outfits reinforce the naughty nurse image that infects media worldwide. Of course promotional efforts like this are light-hearted and no one thinks these are really nurses. But the wave of imagery associating nursing with workplace sexuality undermines respect for the profession at a time when nurses struggle to get the resources they need to save lives--including lives threatened by diseases related to poor diet, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer. We urge McDonald's and RocketNew24 to avoid promoting naughty nurse imagery.
The headline conveys the essence of the item, with a curious twist: "Sexy doctors and nurses serve up McDonald's in Taiwan!" The reference to "doctors" is baffling, since nothing else in the text or the accompanying images suggests that we are looking at naughty physicians. But maybe we're being too picky about a piece in which most sentences end in exclamation points! The item notes that Taiwan might be chilly at the moment, but "the heat among their McDonald's outlets is blazing through the roof!" Setting the context, the piece explains that last year, McDonald's outlets in Taiwan had "cashier girls" dressed as "maids, schoolgirls and flight attendants," but this year an outlet at Kaohsiung "joined the cosplay rally with cashiers dressed in pastel pink nurse uniforms and thigh-high stockings!" Evidently the schoolgirl uniforms were a "hit, especially with their cheeky black knee-high socks, but the Kaohsiung girls up the ante here with mini-length nurse uniforms and thigh-high lacy stockings!" (Did we mention that there were thigh-high stockings?) And a "diamante embellished nurse cap completes the look." Here comes the news analysis:
Some say you can never have the best of both worlds, but from where we're sitting, these young ladies have found the golden formula to being both cute and sexy at the same time!
Then it's back to basic reportage, as the piece says that "citizens" were "thrilled" about the attire:
Some were even so overwhelmed they couldn't give their orders right. Many customers were also seen taking photos of the chirpy cashiers while they were in line. Business was so bustling, in fact, that the girls could hardly even spare a few seconds for a short interview. It seems many hopeful men took the chance while it was their turn at the counter to ask if the girls had boyfriends, but the girls skillfully dodged the private questions with smiles and polite greetings to "enjoy your meal".
The piece concludes with an excited question: "Now you've seen them in maid, flight attendant, schoolgirl and nurse outfits, what would you like to see them in next?"
We don't begrudge fast foot restaurants some fun with their staff uniforms, and we have never objected to sexual imagery in general, but the naughty nurse is a tired cliché that continues to undermine the nursing profession. It's obvious that these restaurants have not chosen their racy cosplay outfits randomly, or with an eye to fun as a general matter, but rather with a focus on eroticizing stereotypically female professions, as well as "schoolgirls." Yes, it's just a "joke," but research shows that even jokes can lessen respect for disempowered groups. This particular imagery suggests that nursing is all about female workplace sexuality. And the reported reaction of the male restaurant patrons shows what can happen when you wear sexual attire to a job that really has nothing to do with sex--people perceive you as being about sex and romance rather than your actual job. Cute young nurses must be all about sex with physicians and patients! Granted, they might be "skillful"--at dodging private questions with polite greetings! At least one study has suggested that more sexual attire causes people to take women less seriously as managers; imagine what it can do for nurses! And when nursing is not seen as a serious profession, it is more difficult for nurses to get the resources they need for education, research, clinical practice, and residencies.
We urge McDonald's and RocketNews24 to use their skills to dodge cosplay that harms nurses and their patients.
See the article by Joan Coello, "Sexy doctors and nurses serve up McDonald's in Taiwan!," posted January 6, 2014, on the RocketNews24 website (Tokyo).