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Hooters: Mismatched Values or Misunderstood Owls?

by October 16, 2012
filed under Activism

Bright orange letters and an owl’s big, round eyes peering out. White tank tops and orange shorts. Liquor, food, conversation and sex appeal. You’ve reached Hooters. Sure, the women will shake their heads and the men will hoot — yes hoot  – for the sexy, Hooters gurls. There are varied opinions of Hooters. I for one had a more negative view of the restaurant, and while you won’t catch me donning their uniform anytime soon, there is a deception to Hooters that should be investigated. In order to get the point of view from the Hooters gurl, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea, an ex-employee. From our conversation I learned a great deal about the experience of working at Hooters.

First and foremost: The message. It can absolutely have a negative effect on the self-esteem of young women, as well as the perspective of young men. For gurls, the message is: Women with sizable chests are preferred, and if you happen to be flat-chested, men won’t like you. For men, it’s: Women with big boobs are the ideal of beauty and are to be treated as objects, not people. I find I dislike that message of Hooters for the same reason I dislike the message the fashion industry presents us: You have to be a size zero to be beautiful. It’s messing with our heads, and it’s making us wonder what beauty really is. But as Andrea explained, the managers at Hooters are looking for gurls who fit the perfect “girl-next-door” profile; having big boobs isn’t a requirement.

Unfortunately, the preconceptions about Hooters prevail, and not just among men. We gurls have the unfortunate habit of judging our fellow women, especially women like Hooters gurls. Andrea started working at Hooters when she was 16, after a friend got her a job there. She says in High School when you work at Hooters it’s “a big deal” and that people tend to look down on you. She also says that “once you get older, people tend not to care as much.” She even jokes that teenagers wear less clothing than the Hooters gurls: “In the summer time, I think we have more clothes on than they do.”

Of course, whereas women see Hooters negatively, men see it positively. However, the image that Hooters presents to men is not entirely accurate either. Like any other establishment, sexual harassment is not tolerated, though some would argue it’s implicitly encouraged. “You just run to the manager and say this person said this or this person needs to get kicked out and they take care of the rest,” Andrea says of sexual harassment. When I asked Andrea about the latest Hooters ads, she replied that she hadn’t seen the newest one, but she thought the ones she had seen “dumb gurls down,” as well as promoted the Hooters’ stereotypes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMyuFQ2BgY0

For Andrea, the ads give people the idea that Hooters is a sports bar – and it does seem that way. But Hooters describes itself as a family restaurant. “You’d be surprised how many families come in,” Andrea says. “We have kid’s menus and everything. When I first started, I thought that was the weirdest thing.” Andrea describes Hooters as a restaurant, but not just your average restaurant. “People are there to see you and have the experience.”

Overall, Andrea says her experience working at Hooters was a positive one. To her, it was just like any other job where she was there to work. However, it took some getting used to – for example, the uniform. “When I first put it on, it was kind of weird because the shorts fit very awkwardly.” Also like any job, Andrea mentions there is bound to be drama, especially in a place where the workforce predominantly puts gurls in competition.

So, while I might never feel the inclination to work at a Hooters restaurant, I find I am glad I listened to Andrea’s story rather than sticking to preconceived notions. The lovely ladies of Hooters may not have convinced me to join their ranks, but I can say that I understand their point of a view a bit better than before. You may still dislike the idea behind Hooters – and that’s okay too. I hear the food is delicious, though.


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