6 Surprising Realities of Life as a Hooters Girl
It started as a dare by my then-boyfriend. I don't remember how or why, but I do remember driving past Hooters and vaguely making some smart-ass comment when he asked if I wanted to go there for dinner.
Fuck you, romance!
Somehow this led to him daring me to apply for a job "as a joke." He may have even threw in a little reverse psychology for good measure, implying I was too scared they wouldn't take me to actually do it or some bullshit. Of course it worked, because if there's one surefire way to get me to do something, it's telling me I can't do it. In hindsight, he probably just wanted to say his girlfriend worked at Hooters, because welcome to life in New Jersey. But the joke was on him, because that job ended up lasting way longer than our relationship did.
Here are a few reasons why ...
It Shatters Your Stereotypes of Working With Women
Here's a fun biological fact for all of you: when girls spend a lot of time around each other, they all end up getting their periods at the same time. This is probably why there was a lock on the managers' (all males) offices: that time of the month when 30 girls were a bunch of PMS-y bitches simultaneously.
"I'm just going to hide out in there for a while."
Sure, that's an obvious drawback of having a predominantly female staff, but outside of that, it was a lot less Mean Girls than you'd imagine. There were a couple of rare instances where one girl would end up temporarily ousted by whatever sub-clique she was part of, but for the most part, the managers were pretty good about moving around schedules to avoid drama if necessary.
However, when you're going through a breakup or any other bullshit in your life, there was no better place to have been. It's amazing what a pair of cheesy orange shorts can do for camaraderie.
And literally nothing else.
It's kind of like being in a gang; you may have some in fighting and shit, but at the end of the day, it always ended up being our crew versus anyone else, be them cheating exes, shitty, non-Hooter friends, or whoever else got caught in our crosshairs.
When I first started working there, I expected every girl to be catty. Ladies, let's be real: we aren't always the kindest to each other, and in a place that put an emphasis on aesthetics, the judgment can be especially harsh. But that first day when I stepped out in that uniform, totally uncomfortable because those goddamn pantyhose were always too short for our legs and they cut off the circulation at our waist, every single girl made it a point to compliment me. And that was something that happened every time a new girl came on board.
Yes, the Money Is Actually Worth It
Maybe all that friendliness was the result of us all remembering that feeling of complete vulnerability that comes with being in these horrible outfits that seemed to accentuate any area we were insecure about on a daily basis. That's one possibility.
Or maybe it's because we all could empathize with each other, thinking, "I can't believe I'm really doing this shit, but I hear the money is worth it."
The truth is the money was totally worth it. Not only did we make bank working there, but there were plenty of other awesome perks.
For example, how many times have you met Carrot Top?
Customers would spoil us on holidays or our birthdays, we would get free tickets to sporting events or whatever the hell else, and getting pulled over while on your way to work wearing a Hooters tank top is a ludicrously effective way to beat the law.
Basically nothing about working there "sucked" completely. In fact, I'd highly recommend any female out there who ever thought of working at Hooters to go for it.
And save me with all that "objectification" bullshit. It's not like I was sold unknowingly into a Hooters slave ring and forced to serve chicken and curly fries for two years. It took me a number of years before I wasn't sick of the smell of wing sauce, but that was about as traumatizing as things got.
It's Way More Family Friendly Than You'd Expect
When I first told my family I was working at Hooters, I quickly made mention of the kids menu and how often families came in. And this wasn't bullshit. Thanks to the movie Big Daddy, kids were always coming into Hooters with their parents. Basically once you add Adam Sandler into the equation, said thing becomes totally asexual.
But it wasn't just families with little kids. Hooters was a bit like Cheers, only instead of Carla and Diane, you had a bunch of hyper waitresses dressed in 1970s track uniforms. For our regulars (and there were A LOT), Hooters was their after-work watering hole.
You're home now, sir.
It was a place that was fun, kind of immature, and had beer. They could forget about whatever real-world bullshit was going on and have some decent-looking/pretty girls talk to them.
After a while, you genuinely got to know these people. They'd ask us for a girl's perspective about stuff with their wives or girlfriends, or how to ask out a chick they were into while offering us a non-biased view of whatever bullshit we had going on with our boyfriends and whatnot. Eventually, they started bringing their other half in because the whole "scantily clad girls" thing isn't even a thing anymore. And if you think about it objectively, those outfits are far more ridiculous than they are sexy or hot.
No one in this picture feels great about this picture.
Now, before you compare it to a strip club, it obviously is not the same thing. We weren't rubbing up on customers for extra tips. OK, most of us weren't. There was always that one girl that went a little overboard, and trust me she never lasted -- mainly because there was an actual strip club down the road, and she ended up getting a job there instead. The rest of the waitresses were normal, mostly college-aged girls that were more than capable of holding an intelligent conversation. However ...
It's Definitely a Gateway to Becoming a Stripper
I would be totally lying if I said that Hooters never led to stripping. Not that there's anything wrong with that. You do get desensitized to walking around in booty shorts and low-cut tank tops all day. But while some girls see Hooters as the easiest waitressing job on the planet that also pays way more money than most waitressing jobs, others are probably just biding their time in the kiddie pool until they work up the nerve to jump in the adult one.
In Jersey, the strip clubs are really go-go bars. If they serve alcohol, the dancers are in G-string bikinis and can't get topless. There were a few girls that graduated to these type of establishments before realizing that shit was a whole different ball game, even if they still technically had clothes on. I'm going to venture out on a limb and guess that the second a strange dude's wood was making an appearance during a lap dance was when the reality of their decision kicked in.
But for others, those go-go bars were merely another rung on the ladder, and at some point they probably ended up working at one of the big strip clubs in the city. From there I can't really say for sure what the next step was. There were always rumors about who ended up "escorting" or whatever, but those could have just been rumors. Or they may have gone to work at the Bunny Ranch. Who knows?
Hooters Fanboys Are Everything You'd Expect
I remember the first time someone came into the Hooters I worked at with a mini-photo album and a Sharpie. Every picture in the album showed him flanked by Hooters girls from various locations around the country. I won't lie, it was kind of weird. But essentially we were cast in a role, and it was part of our jobs to play the part. So I had to sign whatever T-shirt or deck of cards they bought and screw a fake smile on my face for whatever picture I couldn't get out of being in.
I may as well confess now that I was a shitty Hooters girl. I hid in the bathroom whenever we had to sing a song and was more likely to roll my eyes than smile. Oddly, this worked well for me, probably because the out-of-towners coming to a Hooters in Jersey want to experience an authentic "Jersey girl," complete with resting bitch face (pretty sure we invented that shit in Jersey. You're welcome). Had I told them to go fuck themselves, they probably would have tipped me more.
That's called living the dream.
Truth is, having someone ask for your autograph or to take a picture with you is kind of nice. Yes, I know people can go overboard with their fandom, but for the most part, they don't. Even though we did absolutely nothing to deserve it, for those people, Hooters was their "thing." So let them live a little, I figured.
Granted, if I actually took the time to consider what they may have been doing to those pictures, I might have felt differently about it, but I just drank to block those thoughts out.
"Hooters" Are Not an Actual Job Requirement
Believe it or not, most of my fellow Hooters girls were hooterless themselves and relied on a little invention lovingly referred to as "chicken cutlets."
The foundation upon which every Hooters franchise is built.
Paired with a push-up bra, these babies gave the illusion that the wearer was just as stacked as the rest of us. There was a common misconception that all Hooters girls were "hooterriffic," but realistically, I would say about half or less actually were.
And that's called killing the dream.
That wasn't even a requirement anyway, so it didn't matter. Basically what mattered was fitting into the famous (and tacky) uniform, which was only available in three sizes: extra small, small, and medium. These sizes were probably child sizes, because there is not a chance in hell the medium was meant for anyone over the age of 12.
Reminder to parents: Christmas is coming!
Don't get me wrong, they do make the uniforms in bigger sizes (relatively speaking), but our clever managers never ordered them. That's one slick way to avoid being accused of weight discrimination.
Not to say that that's why they did it, of course. Besides, like I said, those uniforms ran small, but we were expected to fit in them, which mostly meant showing up to work hopped up on fat burners and caffeine every day.
In other words, it was a total fucking party.
For more from Cher, follow her on Twitter @thecherness.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Harsh Truths You Learn as a Doctor in the Third World. And then check out 24 Ridiculous Ways We're Probably Ruining the Future.