Hooters Waitress Suspended For Not Fitting Uniform

by Charlotte on May 20, 2010 · 54 comments

Hooters made news today by admitting what most of us already know: Despite claims that it is best known for its wings it turns out it is really selling breasts. And the rest of the well-shaped bodies of their famous scantily clad waitstaff. A Hooters in Detroit – does this city really need any more bad publicity? – recently put 20-year-old Cassandra Smith on probation for gaining weight.

The pretty blond waitress and two-year Hooters veteran was called in for her annual review only to be confronted by her manager and a representative from corporate headquarters about her recent weight gain. The company offered her a free gym membership and 30 days to slim back down into tip-top short-shorts shape or face a “separation” from the company. (No word if she would be able to sue for alimony.) While this might seem despicable at first glance, the company defended itself by making the comparison between their waitresses and the Rockettes and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders saying, “We will say that our practice of upholding an image standard based on appearance, attitude, and fitness for Hooters girls is both legal and fair.”

Certainly Smith had to know when she was hired that they weren’t paying her for her stellar mastery of the menu nor her uncanny ability to remember all her customer’s names. So while she doesn’t have the paycheck or the celebrity (or the rockin’ costumes – those orange shorts are a travesty of American Apparel proportions) of a Rockette or Cheerleader, she shouldn’t have been surprised when she was commoditized like one, right? Only two problems with that argument:

1. Smith is 5’8″ and 132 pounds. Yeah she’s changed since they hired her but she’s hardly portly by any stretch of the imagination.


2. Her boss is this guy. Granted he’s not the one, er, pushing wings but really the irony had to be rich in that room. Normally I would abstain from making a comment about anyone’s weight but since he brought up the topic, I say he is making himself fair game for public scrutiny.


Smith is said to be considering legal options but I’m guessing that the corporate giant is going to win this one. First, it’s an industry truism backed by research that the hotter the waiter or waitress, the better the tips and the better the customer perceives the establishment. Hooters just happens to be more honest – and brazen – about that fact. Second, it’s certainly not the first company to fire employees based on physical appearance. Even Prada does it. Third, as much as I hate that this is the case, women are sexually objectified in many, many industries. Heck we’re even teaching 7-year-olds that the way to be loved and celebrated is to shake it like a stripper:

Do I wish that Cassandra Smith hadn’t been suspended from her job for her weight? Absolutely. Do I also think that she should have expected this given the company? Yeah, probably. Do I think that this would be the perfect opportunity for her to find a new career based on something other than her looks? Definitely. Am I done asking myself questions so I can answer them? Apparently not.

What’s your take – was Cassandra Smith fairly suspended? Have you ever worked at a job that required you to look a certain way? How did you feel about it? Did you see the “Seven Year Olds Going Hard on Single Ladies” video? (Tough luck if you didn’t, it’s already been taken off YouTube for copyright violations.) What do you think – little girls just having fun (and being really really talented dancers) or little girls being pornified with the consent of their parents?

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

jenn May 20, 2010 at 4:42 am

5"8" and 132 pounds. That seems really lean. That must have been her before weight??? I share the exact same sentiments as you regarding this issue so I can't really add anything. Although I'm slightly annoyed that they are encouraging her to lose weight when she is at a completely healthy and if not low weight for her height. The irony of her manager is hysterical is a sad sort of way.

No I didn't see that video of the 7 year olds but it makes me cringe to imagine it.

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Katie May 20, 2010 at 5:17 am

I wish I could see that video. I went to a basketball game at my university a few years ago, and the halftime show was a group of 5-8 year olds in similar type of clothing dancing more sexy than I ever would. My friend and I made a "what parent would let their kids do this" comments, and after halftime, two of the girls came to sit with their parents…right in front of us. oops. But, yeah, I stand by what I said.

I feel the same as you about Cassandra too. Sad, but yes, Hooters will probably win this one.

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cheekypinky May 20, 2010 at 7:51 am

Honestly,
if you work at a place like Hooters,
you're kinda setting yourself up for objectification.

Which is NOT justifying the latter in any way–
the entire notion of Hooters is gross–
but her whole "I'm surprised they're making me lose weight" thing
just seems a trifle naive.

I kinda wish I *had* seen the "Single Girls" video.
From this photo alone, though, I can tell you no daughter of mine would be wearing that nonsense while she was under my roof.
(Seriously, there are so many OTHER types of dance–
this is just adding to the whole stereotype of dancing being *purely* sexual.)

Makes me stabby.

ps (Charlotte, were you reading Jezebel today? :)

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Lizzie May 20, 2010 at 8:38 am

Oh Lordy! Here's a lovely example of my screwed-up-ness…the overriding thing I get from readin this post is NOT indignation for the poor girl, or morth at the irony of the lardy boss or even SHOCK HORROR at the frankly almost abusive video of those little 7 year olds, no. What I get from today, dear Charlotte, is a complete sense of panic because I am 5,8 and 134lbs! AND I've worked my ass off to get here!All kinds of doubts pinging around my mind – am i fat? would I be sacked from Hooters (GOOD GRIEF!!)? is that considered 'portly' in America? No wonder they're all bonkers……….etc etc etc…self involved much Lizzie??! HELP!!!!!!!!!!

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Jamie May 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

Is it just me who thinks she looks more than 132lbs if she is 5'8"?

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lauramich May 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

No, Lizzie, my thoughts went to a similar place: I'm 5'7", and my baseline maintenance weight is 137 (and right now, I'm actually 140!). Even after losing 140+ pounds, I am not hot enough for Hooters! (Not that I could stuff all the loose skin into those tiny, ugly shorts, anyway!)

For me, the shock is not that Hooters objectifies its employees, but the quantification of just what is considered acceptable is enlightening.

I read somewhere (if I could remember where, I'd h/t and link back) that it would be rich if Smith came back having lost the weight … from her boobs.

And yeah, the boss. Oy.

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AnotherSuburbanMom May 20, 2010 at 10:51 am

As someone who would cry with joy if I woke up at 132 pounds at 5'4" I can't see the chub issue.

However she is not going to win on this one. Hooters can claim that it is a BFOQ (Bonafide Occupational Qualification) that their waitresses be of a certain body type.

Hopefully Cassandra will find another job.

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Jen May 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

A. This has been done a few months ago on Drop Dead Diva. Girl gets fat, girl gets fired, girl sues. Of course, on the show the girl wins, but that's TV for you.

B. Unless the after picture was just a bad shot, she's way more than 132 lbs now. Not to say that she looks "fat" by today's standards, but those numbers seem off.

C. Um, you work for Hooters, what did you expect? It's screwed up, but they are selling an image. Yes, women (and men) should be hired for their ability to do a job and not how they look, but when you wear tiny orange shorts to work…

If they can show that her sales have gone down since she's gained weight, they have a legal means for dismissal.

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Lindsey May 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

I'm sorry, but that must be her before weight. I am 5'8" and 140 and she looks to be at least 15lbs heavier than that. Not that she doesn't look good now, but if she wanted to bring this to the news and make a statement about weight, she should be willing to be as honest as possible about her own. I could be wrong about this, but it seems like a lot of others agree.

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Lizzie May 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

ALSO – I didnt realsie 'Hooters' was a real thing!!!! hahaha i LOVE America! Does it emans 'boobs' over there too, and that's the joke?

enlighten me American pals! :)

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Lawgirl May 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

While everyone seems to be focusing on her measurements, keep in mind that you can see 10 different people who are 5'8" and 132 lbs and they will all look different, a everyone carries weight differently.

I think her manager should be shot – if anyone saw the Hooters episode of Undercover Boss, you would know that the he fits in with the male manager on that episode as a pig.

But, on the flip side, everyone knows what Hooters girl is supposed to look like. And yes, just like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, you have to fit the uniform, no matter what your height and weight are.

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dragonmamma/naomi May 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

Sorry, Cassandra. When you work at a place called Hooters, you're going to be objectified and judged.

At 5'8", there's no way she weighs 132. That's got to be the "before" picture.

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Meg May 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I agree that she appears to weigh a bit more than 132 in the after pic. However, here is where I take issue…she obviously had no problem working at a place that hires/pays based on looks before she gained weight…so really, should she be complaining when she put on a few lbs and then is criticized? I am no fan of Hooters and have even had a couple friends work there in college, but everyone knows they make their money from the beautiful workers (minus their managers!!!). I feel for her. No one likes to feel like they gained weight. But, I am not sure she has much of a legal leg to stand on here.

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I'm Not Superhuman May 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I'm not really surprised about this. It's ridiculous, but then again so is putting waitresses into short shorts and tight tanks to get guys to eat wings. I think Hooters was pathetic before this and it will be after this too.

I remember a few years ago that the Borgata casino in Atlantic City got some press about forcing its Borgata Babes (that should explain a lot of backstory) to wear skimpy outfits and then firing them if they gained any weight.

I think as a stupid girl, you've got to know what you're getting into when you work at a places like that. Did she really think they hired her to take orders? If you work at a place known to objectify women, then you shouldn't be surprised when they do it to you. And if she didn't see this coming, then she's even more of an idiot.

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Dr. J May 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

That's what happens when you keep eating the food at Hooters! Don't take my man card away, but I've only been to Hooters one time, and that was to watch a Gator football game while in Tempe, Az.

I do not approve of sexualizing children at such an early age.

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Jody - Fit at 52 May 20, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I hate to say but Hooters is known for the whole looks thing so it does not surprise me & she should have expected that.. BUT, looking at her boss, CRAP, friggin A!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on!

As for the girls video, I saw that & between that & those stupid kid beauty contests & that reality show on TV.. enough is enough!

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VaMomof2 May 20, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Won't even comment on the Hooters thing but the kids – oy! There is a 'dance troop' at my daughter's high school and the stuff they do during 1/2 time games makes me cringe – starting at 7 or 8 years old, no way. Then again, I even cringe at the high school cheerleaders (who cross their fingers, arms and legs during every foul shot) – my girls play the sports – they don't cheer for the boys playing.

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mjb May 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I think for somebody to complain that Hooters expects them to be a certain weight is a little much. It's what Hooters is. Don't sign up to be a manure digger and be surprised when they expect you to shovel manure.

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Rebecca May 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I would have to agree that it is no surprise about Hooters but that is why I never even applied for a job that would require me to look my absolute best at all times (even though I really could have used an Abercrombie employee discount in high school) By the way, there is another video of those girls dancing in THIGH HIGHS to "My Boyfriend's Back", how is this not considered child pornography?!

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Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I am almost 5'8 and 127 pounds in the mornng without clothes and or food/drink. With clothes I could easily be 130-132, maybe even 135-140 if I ate or drank alot at weighing time. I know I'm not "skinny", but I never really thought the sight of me in short shorts and a tank top would cause someone to lose their appetite. I am really upset about this.

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Priscilla May 20, 2010 at 3:57 pm

That picture of the little girls makes me sick to my stomach.

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Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I don't think it's right, no. But I do think it's entirely expected – and if Cassandra didn't want to be objectified or have to maintain her weight to keep her job, she should have gotten a job at pretty much any restaurant BUT Hooters. I don't think it's right for guys to grab at boobs or g-strings either – that's why I don't work at a strip club.

I don't have much sympathy for Cassandra. She's working at a restaurant that serves the hands-down worst food and stays in business because of its waitresses looks and boobs. Not because of the way the manager or cook look (or hell, because of the way they manage or cook). If a customer had crossed the line and tried to pull down her shorts or something, I'd feel differently. But looking a certain way/weight is part of the job description and Hooters is up front about that. If you want to change it, then do – but suddenly deciding you want to change it after you're not getting paid any more because you didn't uphold the job requirements you knew about from the beginning, well…. I'd feel a lot worse for her if she had objected to this practice before she was looking at less money.

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Allison May 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Lizzie,

Oh, how I wish Hooter's wasn't a real thing! Alas, it is a chain restaurant which features hottie waitresses in teeny-tiny orange short-shorts and skin-tight, low cut white tank tops with the word HOOTERS across the front. There's a graphic of an owl on the front and the OO in HOOTERS are his eyes… yeah, because they're talking about owls, not boobs. Classy, right?

I've been known to go on anti-Hooters rants when provoked, which I frequently was by the fact that my a$$hole ex-boss used to go to lunch there and put it on his expense reports. Seriously, dude- like that's a legitimate place for a business lunch? Why not stop at one of the 4 strip clubs you drove past on the way and at least save the company some gas money?

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barbara smith May 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Looks like the manager needs to lose weight. I think it is terrible and not nice. Now everyone thinks this poor girl is fat.Hey I am 5 8" and I weight a little more than that …guess I can not be a hooters girl…This is discrimination…There is a site I like that they are talking about this.http://opinion.ezwingame.com/topics/should-hooters-fire-fat-waitresses“ target=”_blank”> http://opinion.ezwingame.com/topics/should-hooters-fire-fat-waitresses” target=”_blank”>.http://opinion.ezwingame.com/topics/should-hooters-fire-fat-waitresses

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Diane May 20, 2010 at 5:57 pm

She works at Hooters and she's surprised? It's not like she works at Dennys or something!!! You work at a 'bar' that prides itself on the objectification of women and you're surprised they have a body image clause?
I agree with the above posters that there is no way she's 132lbs in that photo, the before maybe but not now. I think also she has more body fat than in the before photo and maybe that has a lot to do with it.

Bottom line if you don't want to be judged on how you look then don't work at a freakin' hooters bar!

As for the kids, I searched youtube for it and OMFG! What are parent's thinking? Sure the kids have bucketloads of talent and are now well versed in gogo dancing and strip routines! What happened to playing with my little ponys?

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Quix May 20, 2010 at 7:43 pm

+1 to "ummm, don't think so for the 5'8" and 132. I'm 5'5" and 155-160, granted FAR more muscular to her long and lean-ish, but still. I'm thinking at least 170 if not more. And there's nothing wrong with that! I am curious to see what sort of hiring paperwork she signed – I bet there is something in legalese in a contract where the company can do it. Is it shady? Sure. But I don't think it's any surprise that she was hired because of her…ummm… assets, and she chose a job where she's probably asked to maintain them. And I do like that they gave her a gym membership to at least promote the image that they were asking her to lose the weight healthily. I didn't watch the video, but I'm also sure the irony could have been cut with a knife. Lame.

That being said, I really think that it's the kind of thing where if you don't like it, go somewhere else. Some jobs require that you maintain either your appearance or fitness or weight to certain standards. Most don't. Pick one of those.

If I sound like I'm a bit conflicted, I am. On one hand I'm glad that she has such a good body image that she isn't embarassed at all about it. On the other hand – those uniforms aren't very forgiving. There is a little extra pudge around the belly, and there is literally busting out of the uniform. But who decides that? Totally conflicted. Yep.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Why of course I was!  Jez is my first and last read of the day.  LOVE that site.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Oh Lizzie – you know that was my first thought too! I immediately compared my height and weight to hers and had a panic attack. You are NOT alone in this one, lol!

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Yeah, I kinda wondered about her weight too but then I'm so messed up with my own body size I don't really trust myself to guess other people's weight either… Never heard of Drop Dead Diva. Is it a TV show?

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Like I replied to another commenter, I wondered about her weight too but then I'm so messed up with seeing my own body size accurately I just figure I can't be trusted to guess other people's weights either…

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I HATE Hooters. And yes, it's a real thing. And yes, they plaster the word "hooters" right over the girls' hooters. Sigh.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:31 pm

"That's what happens when you keep eating the food at Hooters! " Hahahah! Excellent point!

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Good for your girls!! The world needs more strong women, not "sexy" women.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Are you serious?? I didn't search for other videos of those same little girls although I did hear they were on Good Morning America with their parents and their parents still maintain that it was all in good taste. Eesh.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

No, no, Anon – don't be upset about her stats honey! The problem is the with the stupid restaurant management. Not the waitress. And DEF. not you. You are already on the slim side for your height. But I totally understand the freak-out feeling. I'm a chronic comparer myself.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Yeah, I WANTED to feel sympathy for her but the more I read about it them more I kinda thought she should have seen this one coming.

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chariander May 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Is it back on YouTube again?? I'll post the link if I find it.

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Averie May 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I think that anyone who takes a job at Hooters or similar industry better be prepared to keep themselves in the same shape they were in when they were hired. Models, tv talent, etc have these things written into their contract. Perhaps she wasn't "under contract" as it's hooters after all…but common sense would dictate that her male bosses expect hotness at all times. I mean, after all, what else are women good for besides looking hot :) (tongue in cheek humor there!)

Anyway random about the intense debate. I havent re-installed the commentluv plugin b/c I fear it will cause commenters to be unable to..BUT it seems that half the people when i get their comments lately, it's not showing their URL. I "know" many of them but some it's like what's her blog url?! I think it has something to do w/ those who login using their Wordpress id. Some WP people, I get their URL in the email notification, then others, I don't. Just wondering if you have many people lately that you don't get their url/blog link noted, too?

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cheekypinky May 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

*grin*

awesome–me too!
I saw the connection between the girls and the Hooters waitress and I went, "hey! Charlotte reads Jez!"

I love their weekly media wrap-ups–they slay me.

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cheekypinky May 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Parts of the "Single Ladies" video are available to been seen with the ABC interview of two of the parents.

Having seen that bit of the video,
I actually don't have a huge problem with the dance itself–
those girls are *fantastic* dancers,
and few of the moves are overtly sexual.

But…

The outfits change that.

If they had their midriffs covered up,
I don't think this would be a big deal.

Poor choice of clothing,
incredible dancing.

(but then again, I dance Argentine Tango…I lean a bit towards the permissive side of things when it come to *good* dance)

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Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I honestly think it's more than just shoulda seen it coming (even though she should have). I feel like she's playing the you're-objectifying-me card now cause she thinks she can make money off of it. If she REALLY felt this way or had legit concerns about women being objectified or required to maintain certain physical standards, she wouldn't have taken the job in the first place – much less have worked there happily for 2 years! I feel like she's just saying all that now cause she could make money off the lawsuit/get her job and salary back.

Not to mention, is it really discrimination if it's something you CAN change (as opposed to skin color, gender, age, etc) and something you willingly complied with for two years? (And disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that it's easy to lose or change your weight or anything, I know a lot of factors go into weight – but in THIS case, she met their expectations for awhile and only recently gained the weight, and I feel if it were something other than poor lifestyle choices, like a medical diagnosis, she would have mentioned it.)

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azusmom May 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I saw the girls dancing, and it's just…well, VaMomof2 said it; oy! I had to cover my OWN eyes (luckily my kids weren't in the room) lest my brain explode. Seriously, these girls will have the rest of their lives to be insecure and try to be sexy, do we have to start NOW?!?!?!?! And, seriously, doesn't this make the sexualization of little girls more acceptable? It's kinda like saying "Sure, Perv, go ahead and ogle my little girl!"
As far as Hooters, well, I'm still outraged, even though, yes, she absolutely knew what she was signing up for. But Hooters peeves me off just by existing, so I can't exactly be impartial here.

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SophieDrvoire May 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I don't live in the US I didn't know Hooters was a food place! I always thought it was ment to be some sort of famous bar or strip joint!

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Geosomin May 20, 2010 at 11:39 pm

That picture of 7 year olds is so very very sad…

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JoanE May 21, 2010 at 12:17 am

I think the video photo is somewhat distorted. There are pictures of her posted elsewhere – you can see the outline of her ribs! There is one picture where the outfit looks a little snug – so just get the next size up, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her weight. The management of Hooters is setting up an artificially thin standard much to the detriment of all women, whether we work at Hooters or not. (and I hate Hooters!) Being underweight is a requirement for waiting on tables? I don't think so.
As for the little girls – who had the horrible taste to come up with those outfits? Reminds me of our elementary school lip-synch competition, where the 4th grade girls wore low-rider jeans and did all the hip-gyrations of Britney or whoever. I couldn't believe the parents went for this, and they had an adult coach-choreographer.

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Allison May 21, 2010 at 1:11 am

Someone may have posted this in a previous comment, but here is the CNN video for the 7 year olds…. it reeeeally makes me cringe. I can see that they're talented, but that talent is completely underminded by my disgust over the whole thing.
http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/

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Jen May 21, 2010 at 2:10 am

Yep, it's about a model who dies but gets sent back to earth in the body of a plus-sized lawyer. Lots of mixed reviews about it in the fat acceptance world, but it's pretty addicting.

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Lizzie May 21, 2010 at 8:39 am

I'm GLAD I'm not alone – yikes, havent stopped thinking about this! Chronic comparer much? LOL!!!! (I still cant believe Hooters is a real thing – hahaha!!!)

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MizFit May 21, 2010 at 9:39 am

loved the comments on this one and while I GIGGLED at the sentiment of "she works at hooters and she's surprised?" it doesnt make it right by any stretch.
Im more stunned that hooters still exist and are highly patronized in 2010

that says more about our society in a way.

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Alison May 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I would encourage you not to post a link to the video. I don't think it is helpful to watch these young girls dance in such an inappropriate manner, whether you think it is wrong or not. It will only further encourage such behavior.

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Anonymous May 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

My swimsuits when I was 6, 7, 8 and 9 years old looked a lot like that, just without the black tutu. Then again, when I was that age, I was wearing the swimsuits while digging sandcastles and swimming in the ocean, not dancing in front of crowds and on television. For whatever that's worth.

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Allison May 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm

@Alison – I'm not trying to encourage the behavior by posting the video. In fact, before I posted the link, I thought to myself, this is the best place to post it, because people reading this blog and reading the comments are mainly the type of people who *won't* be encouraged by viewing the video. It's not like I'm posting this on a pre-teen model website to inspire young girls.

Seeing the picture is not the same as seeing the video. If someone wants to be truly informed, they should have access to the video.

Unless you actually have all the facts, it become heresay – "I heard that I would be offended by this, so I am!"

No. See it, BE repulsed, and THEN make your own decision.

Besides, if you don't want to watch it, you don't need to click the link. =)

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Jo May 24, 2010 at 7:20 am

I went to a Hooters once, too. Two things struck me: first, the food is really, really salty and marginal. Second, the local Hooters, at least, should have the motto "Hooters: It's not as bad as you think." Strangely, the girls all wore near-opaque skin-colored tights, and the clothes weren't as short and tight as I had expected. Maybe it's the Bible Belt, though.

Oh, third thing: No good beer. That was the kicker.

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j. toro May 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm

that is the way of our western world. she fed into it by working at hooters in the first place–let's be honest about it, it's not a straight up regular restaurant. i'm educated and well read and also appear mexican; when i apply at restaurants the server position will sooner go to a vacuous aryan while i'll be placed bussing.

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