Another Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Posted by jcmaziquemd on September 5, 2010

The Skinny on Hooters


I ordered chicken wings and a draft beer at the Hooters in Phoenix last March.

The wait-ress, in tight orange shorts, was larger than I expected.

Now this is a story, I mused to myself: America’s obesity epidemic has finally spread to the Hooters Girls.

It’s one thing when two-thirds of Americans are overweight–primarily from eating the kind of fare Hooters serves–but if 17,000 Hooters Girls start packing it on, well, this is indeed a national tragedy.

Hooters sells skinny women and fattening food, but this kind of marketing does not come without societal costs.

Airlines have long been trying to force large passengers to buy two seats. Medical-equipment makers have had to develop heavy-duty gurneys and extra-large imaging machines. And even little ol’ Natural Nails in DeKalb County, Ga., recently made news for adding a $5 fat fee to its bills.

Some call it discrimination. But the salon seats cost $2,500 and heavy customers deliver way too much wear and tear, the salon manager said.

Atlanta-based Hooters, allegedly, is dealing with America’s obesity problem by putting some Hooters Girls on "weight probation." But, turns out, you may not be able to do that in Michigan, where a civil-rights law from the 1970s prohibits weight discrimination.

Last week, a state judge ruled that lawsuits filed by two women who worked at Hooters in Roseville, Mich., alleging weight discrimination, can proceed.

Cassandra Smith is 5’8" and 132.5 pounds, and Leeanne Convery is 4′ 11" and 115 pounds, according to court filings. But apparently they weren’t fitting into the uniforms they claim came in only three sizes: small, extra small, and extra, extra small.

Ms. Convery said in her lawsuit that she lost 15 pounds and was encouraged to take appetite-suppressing drugs, only to be told by a manager that she’d made no improvement.

Hooters has vehemently denied these claims. Company spokesman Mike McNeil told me Hooters will appeal the judge’s latest ruling, forcing the case into arbitration where Hooters will prevail.

"We never mentioned weight. We never mentioned pounds. We never mentioned scales," he said.

Hooters expectations are no different than those set for Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. "We have an image to uphold," Mr. McNeil said. "We’ve been upholding it for 27 years. Hopefully, we’ll be doing it for another 27 years."

Michael Gatti, an attorney representing the women, told me their job descriptions were not to cheerlead pro football or perform on stage. "All their job duties are those of a waitress," he said. "Serve chicken wings, refill salt shakers, carry mugs of beer."

Still, waitresses sporting extra pounds can’t be good for business at Hooters, which offers a magazine, calendars and even the Hooters Swimsuit Contest Winners Gallery. So I told McNeil about my own visit to Hooters.

"I am sorry about your experience," he said. "There’ve been times I’ve been in a Hooters…and I didn’t think the chicken wings were as good as they ought to be. Perfection is your goal. You don’t always get there."


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