Are Maid cafes objectifying women?

  Maid cafes are almost a staple among pop culture and other communities. But are these cafes hurting the perception of women?

  Some people might think so, but what are maid cafes good for? They offer fun activities. While customers enjoy the food and drinks of the cafe, the true attraction of maid cafes lies in the “maid” of maid cafes: waitresses serving meals and entertaining the guests with songs and dances in maid costumes, carrying out their service in the character of a maid stereotypical to the Japanese anime stock character.

  Most maid cafes are popular due to the influence of Japanese anime.. While America has very few maid cafes, Japan is chalk full of them. The first maid cafe opened in 2001 and there have only been more popping up since. The first cafe to open, Cure Maid Cafe, was a bit different than the maid cafes of today. The atmosphere there was more refined and Victorian than that of today. The cafe is still thriving today, and maids there even play live music for customers on weekends. Due to the popularity of this cafe, more sprang up. Over the years cafes leaned more and more into the anime aesthetic. Some had gimmicks including cat maids, idol maids, and butlers (though I doubt you could call it a maid cafe at that point). The popularity of these cafes was largely boosted by appearing on a Japanese drama series called Densha Otoko. It gave a better look into otaku culture and pushed another legendary maid cafe, Pinafore, to stardom. Over time anime spread to the states, and along with it the popularity of maids and maid cafes.

  Maid cafes are hard to manage though. At the end of the day it is a cafe through and through, so you still need to pay all the normal expenses. A disadvantage of maid cafes though is having to pay for more staff, which takes a big chunk of revenue out of your budget. In Akihabara, Tokyo alone, there are over 100 different maid cafe branches. Meanwhile, in the United States, there has only been  a handful of successful, permanent maid cafe attempts. 

  However, an article from Tokyo Weekender described the dark side of the maid cafe industry: . Maids had hierarchies, and were based on things like race, time of employment, and ability to translate. There was large-scale discrimination in the workplace with “maids of color” being on the bottom of the list due to their low popularity with the clientele. In addition to this there was also a rigorous hiring process involving a lot of training, low acceptance rates, and discrimination. Many maid cafe managements scrutinize the maids’ weight, keeping the young female employees on a tight watch over their weight and spurring anxiety and body insecurity among the maids. Once someone reaches the max size, they are asked to leave the workplace. This led to the maid they interviewed, called “A-Chan,” to have bad mental health due to the constant mounting pressure applied to her. She said it was a place where “no matter what you do, you will never fit the beauty standard.”

  Although there are more than enough negatives to deter people from pursuing a career like this, there are also some good things that can come of it. In the end it is a tough job and you should only work if all you want to do is to make people smile. 

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