The first time I ever stepped foot into a Hooters restaurant, it wasn’t for “world famous” wings and beer or to watch Sunday night football. It was for an interview.
Rewind to May of last year and at the time, the only things I associated with the well-known sports bar were those infamous teeny orange shorts and that one scene in the movie “Big Daddy.” Never did I picture myself pursuing a job as a Hooters girl, and yet there I was: wearing fake eyelashes at 2 pm and nervous my v-neck sweater made me look like I was trying way too hard.
I didn’t actually tell my parents about the interview. I understood the stigma that surrounded the girls who work there in their less-than modest uniforms and was worried dear old Mom and Dad wouldn’t exactly be thrilled. However, living in New York City with an unpaid internship did not support my Sephora and Starbucks spending habits and getting hired as a server anywhere else without “prior NYC restaurant working experience” was about as likely as me giving up Venti Cafe Mochas — it just wasn’t happening.
I walked into my first day as a Hooters Girl absolutely terrified. It’s located in the middle of New York City, and real-life models and actresses work there. I was prepared for a Mean Girls-style work environment, but with less plaid mini skirts and more white Sketchers.
I was pleasantly surprised on that first day when almost every waitress asked my name and told me how nice I looked in my uniform. What’s sad is that I was surprised at all.
Today more than ever, girls are in constant competition with each other — to be the best looking, get the most male attention, have the most Instagram likes — resulting in jealousy and low self-esteem. I myself am guilty of meeting girls for the first time and automatically predicting that they’ll be catty and stuck up. It’s just what we’ve come to expect from each other as females. Too few of us are supportive of and genuinely want the best for each other. Instead of being happy for one another’s success, it makes us feel threatened, jealous and insecure.
Hooters had a positive impact on my life — especially my attitude towards other females. A place I at first worried would be a stressful and intimidating work environment, Hooters has introduced me to some of the most down-to-earth and hard working women I’ve ever met from so many different backgrounds. The morning girls leave their shifts wishing the night shift good luck and hoping they make “a million dollars” in tips. I could rarely wear a new lipstick while working there without a few compliments and a dozen questions asking where I got it. And if I was having a bad night? The girls would remind me it’s just one night, one angry table or one undeservingly-low tip. Though Hooters is an environment traditionally thought to cater primarily to males, what I found was a sense of female empowerment. Plus, there’s nothing like the pain of wearing tacky nylons to bring a group of women together.
Wearing the orange shorts has done much more than help pay off my credit card debt over the past six months. I’ve become less catty, more confident and have a genuinely more positive outlook on friendships between females. The next time you want to talk badly about a girl you think is prettier, smarter or has a more impressive wardrobe than you — don’t. Be happy for her and remember that her success or happiness does not take away from your own.