Hooters made news yesterday 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?