I’ve always loved the smell of deep-fried chicken wings. And, people talk a lot of smack about those tiny, orange shorts. No matter how I look at it, working at Hooters will always be a pivotal time in my life. I had never really had a job outside a three-month summer internship. When I started the search for a job at age eighteen, I quickly found out how hard and esteem-crushing it can be. I searched and searched and no one would hire me, except this one, all-American food joint. The thought of being a waitress for the first time was an exciting one.
Most of my family members were quick to criticize me and tried to convince me not to start work there. I couldn’t understand why. I knew I’d be great at it. I have a great smile, an outgoing personality, and come equipped with the proper bra size for the uniform. What’s the big deal? It wasn’t until my first 100 dollar tip that I realized the shift in consciousness people were trying to shield me from. I had become a walking, talking, wing-serving, sex symbol.
It was the first time I had ever been celebrated for having a large chest. I used to wear double XL t-shirts to hide my breasts during one phase of my younger years, feeling ashamed and isolated. I was the only girl in the fourth grade wearing an A cup bra. So when the opportunity arose in my life to embrace myself among others like me, I took it.
Working at Hooters was a prominent shaping phase of my life. I sharpened many skills from multitasking to conflict resolution, all while maintaining a proper beauty regimen on the job. Girls were easy to get along with because of my obsession with beauty products and my ability to keep secrets. I admired the buzzing environment of women determined to represent glamour, happiness, and cheerful service all at once. I know, I know. Not all Hooters restaurants are the same. The locations I worked are based in major cities of large states, so their selection of women and attention to detail are more strict. Needless to say, I was trained by some of the very best.
There was a time I became so great at smiling, taking multiple food orders, and singing happy birthday that I started working double shifts. I started buying perfectly shaped push-up bras to fit the uniform tank top just right, and working out more often. After almost two years, I began searching for higher ways to climb. I wore more fitting clothes, showing off the figure I was now proud of. Eventually, I grew so confident that I auditioned at a high-end strip club and was hired that same night.
If you’ve worked there, you might agree that being a Hooters girl is like being a Girl Scout. Once you are one, you’re one for life. I refer back to what I learned there, often: How to greet people with a confident smile, balancing more than one activity at a time, effective communication, and maintaining a physically healthy lifestyle. I collect tank tops from different locations I visit nowadays, basking in the familiar atmosphere. I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for the capital of breasts and wings.