Saturday, July 23, 2005

Another Reason to Not Like McDonald's

Modesty should be part of McDonald's uniform redesign

"Welcome to McDonald's, can I take your order?"

"Sure, I'd like a Big Mac, a large Coke and a belly button."

Laugh if you will, but McDonald's, the world's largest employer of young people, is looking to spend some $80 million to turn its employees' hum-drum uniforms into hip street wear.

McDonald's is reportedly eyeing hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons' Phat Farm and P. Diddy's Sean John fashion lines, American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Fubu, Tommy Hilfiger and others to revamp the folks behind the counter.

There's no doubt that updating your image is a good thing. Face it. We all know people who still wear hairstyles and fashions straight out of a Whitesnake music video. We eye them with pity, thinking, "How did they get so far behind?" and "Can you really still buy Aquanet?"

But McDonald's may be walking the wrong runway in its quest to be hip. Have its top executives ever visited an Abercrombie & Fitch store or seen a music video featuring P. Diddy? If so, just what kind of image does McDonald's want?

Most hip street wear, from what can be gleaned watching MTV and browsing the racks at the above-mentioned stores, leaves little to the imagination. There's a whole generation walking around out there half naked. Modesty, it seems, is out of style.

As the parent of a teenage daughter, it's a nightmare to find jeans for her that offer full backside coverage, shirts that aren't belly-baring and shorts and skirts of a respectable length. Rule of thumb in our house --- if you can't wear it to church, you can't wear it anywhere.

Hip street wear for men usually means pants four sizes too big that sag off the rear end, never leaving room for the question, "Boxers or briefs?" (Note to young men: There's a little tag inside the waistband of every pair of pants that shows what size they are. You don't have to guess.)

Do we really want our McChicken served with a smile and a bare midriff? Wouldn't the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have something to say about the hazards of mopping a fast-food dining room with your pant legs?

And lets not forget that McDonald's has older employees, too. Imagine your grandma in low-rise, flare-leg pants and a skinny T-shirt emblazoned with the golden arches. Or how about Grandpa in sagging pants (on purpose, not because his behind has migrated to the front) and blinding bling?

If McDonald's is truly worried about its image, it would do well to keep its employees fully covered in clothes that fit. If the company can't muster that, we can only image what's next. Maybe Happy Meals that come with a "Dora the Explorer" navel ring?

Meta Hemenway-Forbes is the Courier Life Editor. Contact her at (319) 291-1483 or

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