Looks are everything

Jan 222004
Authors: Holly Stollsteimer

Physical appearance for women has become a debated part of the

hiring process for such bars, nightclubs and restaurants as

Hooters, Club Osirus and the Avenue.

Jason Hanson, general manager for Hooters Restaurant, said he

hires solely women waitresses, a practice protected by the BFOQ

(Bona Fide Occupational Qualification). This allows Hooters to hire

one sex over the other because of the nature of the particular


Hanson said when hiring, he looks for outgoing, witty


“They have to be able to talk to a blue collar worker or a city

council member,” he said.

He also said looks do matter in this line of business. Hooters

looks for women with an athletic, cheerleader-like appearance. When

working, the women must wear their hair down at all times, and wear

appropriate make-up.

“They are always ready for a photo shoot,” Hanson said. “We tell

them to come in as if they’re going out on a Friday night on the


Jennifer Loomis, a sophomore Spanish major, is a former employee

of the Hooters Restaurant in Fort Collins. She remembers her

employee manual stating the business looked for an all-American

girl, or “girl next door” appearance. It wasn’t primarily about

chest size, she said.

“They’re looking for an all-over good appearance,” she said.

Loomis said her interview contained many “case scenario”

questions, such as how comfortable she felt with men hitting on

her. She was not asked about level of education, and stated some

employees were still in high school.

Loomis also recalls the dress code being very strict, down to

the types of nylons worn. Hooters waitresses are required to wear

thicker, “suntan”-colored nylons, which they purchase for three

dollars a pair through Hooters.

Loomis said the company was strict on hair and make-up as


“One day my manager pulled me aside and told me I wasn’t wearing

enough make-up,” she said, “so I had to put on more.”

Heidi Lacy, a junior human development and family studies major,

said she personally wouldn’t consider working at Hooters.

“Personally, I think I’d feel degraded,” she said. “My parents

would be pissed, too. They’d say there are plenty of other jobs

around town that would be better for a single female.”

Loomis said her parents were supportive of her decision to work

at Hooters.

“It’s not like guys touch you. I mean, you get hit on a lot, but

if you’re a respectable person, you can deal with it,” she said.

“You have to deal with every table hitting on you, and that gets


Lacy also stated she does understand the reasons behind Hooters

hiring qualifications.

“It makes sense to hire cute girls. That’s why people go there,”

she said.

Club Osirus also hires partly on physical appearance, according

to owner Jeff Holder.

“There’s definitely a certain look we’re looking for,” Holder


Osirus has four cages around the dance floor, in which girls are

hired to dance. The club also has several female bartenders and

cocktail waitresses.

All females hired are required to have their midriff exposed

while working. Unlike Hooters, they are not required to wear

make-up or wear their hair down, but do have to look


Holder said applicants not only have to have experience in their

field, but also have to be attractive. Cocktail waitresses must

have cocktail experience, and bartenders must have one to two

years’ experience.

Dancers are sub-contracted out, and are referred to a head

dancer. According to Holder, try-outs for new dancers are held

every three weeks to a month.

“They have to look the part and have got to be able to dance,”

he said.

When women are hired, they are expected to keep their physical

build, Holder said.

According to Loomis, managers would not meet with walk-in

applicants right away.

Loomis said employees were expected to keep their basic physical

appearance. For example, she said, if a woman were to become

pregnant, she was allowed to work for a few months, but couldn’t

work while showing. Employees could then return after the


“If they pick up weight, we’ll tell them it needs to change. You

try to anticipate that not happening,” Holder said.

If a woman were to become pregnant, however, he said women would

not be discouraged to work. However, he said he would talk with the

employee, mainly considering smokers in the club and their effect

on the baby. Still, it would ultimately be her choice to


“Pregnant women are sexy sometimes,” he said.

While looks are part of these businesses’ hiring process, the

Avenue, a local bar and restaurant, hires solely based on a resume

and personality, according to Derek Sayegusa, floor manager and


“If you want a good solid staff appearance won’t give you the

strong staff you need to survive in this business,” Sayegusa


The Avenue looks at an applicants resume for previous

experience, Sayegusa said. Cocktailing experience is helpful,

especially for females, due to the harassment, which can be a part

of the job, he said.

“We talk to girls about harassment, and see if they’re willing

to put up with it,” he said.

Sayegusa said in the interview, the business looks for a strong

personality, ability to respond quickly and ability to give 110


Those hired are then given a 90-day probation period to see how

they perform on the job. This is followed by an evaluation to

determine whether or not the employee stays.

The dress code at the Avenue differs from Osirus. Men and women

wear all black, and are expected to look classy. Sayegusa stated

the Avenue does not allow anything scandalous.

“We’re not looking for low cut shirts and short skirts,” he


Women are not hired over men at the Avenue.

“I think it’s very discriminatory,” Sayegusa said.

Holder said people have suggested having male dancers at Osirus

as well as female dancers. Eventually, he said they might consider

having it for certain nights. The club did not originally hire male

dancers because, according to Holder, he and the other owner, being

males, were more partial to hiring females.

Loomis recalls Hooters promoting a fun atmosphere with witty,

outgoing employees. The women created their own “character,” and

Loomis said most of the time being sarcastic yet playful was

incorporated into their mannerisms.

According to Holder, cocktail waitresses and bartenders are

expected to have a good personality. A cocktail waitress must be a

people person, and be able to “fake it if people are being rude,”

unless a particular circumstance makes her uncomfortable.

The dancers however, are not hired for their personality.

“Dancers’ personality doesn’t matter, as long as they can

dance,” Holder said.

According to Hanson, looks and personality go hand in hand when

waitressing at Hooters.

“The better they feel, the more outgoing they become,” he


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