I’m not just a gal with a great set of big naturals. I also have a humongous ass. So when I first applied to Hooters in 2015, a year when we were already well into our contemporary ass era, I figured both would be an asset. I was wrong — at least in the eyes of management.
I only lasted a few weeks on the job. I blame my resting bitch face, poor penmanship and the fact that I didn’t yet have contact lenses, but couldn’t wear my glasses — which rendered me semi-blind — for my lack of success. I’m also just downright bad at waitressing. But I also blame the weirdly dated standards of conventional beauty among the men who ran the establishment. We were required, for example, to have our hair heat-styled and dyed “natural” colors, our nails painted with clear or light pink polish and wear makeup (but not “too much”) that passed the per-shift inspection of our male managers.
Six years later, if the latest TikTok trend among Hooters’ waitresses is any indication, these standards remain dated just the same.
This week, many Hooters girls have taken to the app to show the new shorts they’re required to wear as part of their uniform. The Hooters uniform famously features the white or black low-cut tank top, orange or black mini shorts, tan tights, scrunched up white socks and white kitchen-safe sneakers. Not much has changed there, but the already-skimpy shorts have been given an “update”: They’re now much shorter, appearing closer to a pair of brief undies than actual shorts.
Numerous employees seem to be uncomfortable with the shorts, particularly in light of the fact that they were tiny enough as they were, and the new pair looks somewhat uncomfortable. But what surprised me most about this change, frankly, is that it’s taken this goddamn long for Hooters to realize that ass is in.
When I was first hired, I was given an XXS pair of shorts. I don’t bring this up to highlight how petite I am, but rather to highlight Hooters’ sizing system. A few days in, a male manager had the woman training me take me into the bathroom to tell me that I simply had too much ass hanging out of these XXS shorts, and was promptly switched to a more conservative XS pair.
I probably still had a ton of ass hanging out of those bigger shorts, but it seemed bizarre to me that Hooters of all places would be asking me to cover up. I mean, sure, they’re Hooters, not Badonkadonks, but c’mon! By that summer, “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj had been out for a year and ass had been popular in the mainstream for quite some time. Yet Hooters continued to rely on the thin, busty and predominantly white aesthetics that had been popular when they were first incorporated in 1983. While this has been controversial in the past, even warranting discrimination lawsuits, Hooters has worked around such legal issues by claiming their waitresses are more akin to entertainers than anything else, and that they must uphold a specific appearance in order to qualify as such.
But if this change in shorts is indeed a clue that the company is leaning into butts, employees aren’t happy about it regardless. Some creators on TikTok are even saying that they’ve had co-workers quit over the new shorts, or they’re contemplating quitting themselves. Others don’t seem to mind them, potentially because they better accentuate another one of their physical attributes that help them make more money.
In any case, it points not only to the fact that Hooters is late in its understanding of contemporary aesthetics, but also, once again, that the company — through their often male restaurant management — wants to meticulously control the look of the employees they’re only paying $2.13 an hour in some states. While I’m perfectly fine making money off my looks, minimum wage simply isn’t enough. Both my big naturals and giant wagon are worth more than that — and so are every other Hooters girls’.