“Hooter’s” Stereotype False

CBS recently began airing a new show, Undercover Boss, which takes a CEO of a company and introduces them back into one of their own stores. The week of Feb. 14, Undercover Boss featured Coby Brooks, the president and CEO of Hooters of America. During his time as a restaurant manager, promoter and a cook, Brooks learned more about the public opinion of Hooters.

While Brooks went undercover as a promoter with two Hooters girls, he realized just what the public thinks of the Hooters girl’s image. “I just think it is degrading to women,” said one woman from the show. “I would never let my daughter work there.”

I am willing to bet that most people who have this stereotype with Hooters have never stepped into Hooters in their entire life.

I began working at Hooters about a month after I turned 17. I had recently been laid off because of the dismal economy and needed a new form of income. Being 17, hosting was one of the few jobs with good hours, environment and pay. However, out of all the restaurants in North Raleigh, I chose Hooters. Why? I think it all started as a joke to me, but I have honestly learned more about myself and other people in the past year than I have in my entire life.

I didn’t know what to expect working there. I think I expected a lot of what other people think, a lot of desperate, catty girls wanting to work what they have. I had never been so far from the truth. The first girl that I met, Stephanie, told me she is at Carolina Law School. I was immediately taken back because I didn’t expect to meet anyone, for a lack of better words, smart.

Jackie, the girl behind the bar, attended Duke for undergraduate and graduate school. My first night was filled with talking to tables, getting to know the girls and truly having a great time. This “great time” at work is hard to come by.

Most teenagers find themselves hoping between grocery store jobs making minimum wage, dreading going to work. In my ten months of working for Hooters, I have not once complained about going to work. I make a lot of money and see my friends every time I work while meeting a new person every time I work.

The job is addicting. Being younger than most of the girls, I expected to find myself not hanging out with the girls outside of work. However, these girls have become my best friends, friends who will last long after we stop working at Hooters.

I’m sure that there are still a few people thinking, I would still never let my daughter work there. How could her parents let her do this? I am not some ‘wild child’ who runs her house.

My parents were skeptical of the job at first, too. However, when I came home with my uniform, most reservations disappeared.  I wear a white polo and khaki shorts. This is no less than what girls wear at Wild Wings or many other restaurants. Although the Hooters girl uniform is more revealing, it is still more than what some are asked to wear.

Let’s just think of the pool. I have never once seen an overweight lifeguard, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t trust an overweight person to save my life. These lifeguards wear a tight bathing suit. I am aware that this makes sense since they are working at a pool, rather than serving food but honestly parents, your daughters are probably more revealing at school and when they go out, than what they would wear at Hooters.

My parents also warmed up to the job even more when we received a Hooters envelope in the mail. The letter offered health insurance. Even though we already had insurance, my parents fell in love with a company that could offer all this to their employees. The reason is because Hooters cares, and Hooters gives back.

During the month of February, I have been competing in a scholarship program where I raise money for the American Red Cross. Hooters collects donations for the Red Cross at every lunch and dinner shift. We have raised over 4,000 dollars and the month is not yet over. In January, we raised money for ALS, more commonly known as Lou-Gehrig’s disease. Hooters hosts the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Tournament, raising money for cancer research.

The point that I am trying to make is, Hooters is filled with real people who care. During the episode of Undercover Boss, Brooks is talking to his board room about his upcoming journey through a real Hooters restaurant. I knew some of the people in that room. I know the Vice President, and I know his son. The CEOs and head corporate people are involved with us. Without the Hooters girls, they would be nothing.

I have always been a confident girl, so I didn’t think working at Hooters could be that hard. There are some guys that come in, looking for a beer and to treat the girls like scum. I have learned to stand up for myself. This may sound like anyone can do it, but I am willing to bet they can’t. I have learned to stand up for myself and not let people walk all over me. My parents feel so much more comfortable sending me to college in a big city because they know I can take care of myself.

The name “Hooters” may always make people laugh or people feel uncomfortable, but if I have convinced one person that Hooters is more than what a reputation says, I have done something great. Do not be afraid to bring your children in there; honestly, half the time the place resembles Chucky Cheese with the amount of children that comes in. Wives, the Hooters girls will not try to pick your husbands up. And teenage girls, it’s okay to work there. It will be the best time you will ever have at work.

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