It has been exactly two months since my son stepped foot Hooters. Hundreds of people from around the world have left comments about my blog post both positive and negative, some thought provoking and others just nasty and dismissive. The last word (at this blog anyway) goes to Catherine Otwell, who waited on us that day and emailed me recently asking to write a guest post because she’s got something to say. I think it speaks for itself:
My name is Catherine, and a few weeks ago my photo was featured in a story on the homepage of AOL. Totally unaware of the situation, I was bombarded by phone calls and text messages telling me to check AOL’s top stories. Initially, I was pleasantly surprised as my friends called exclaiming, “You’re famous!”
When I came home, and finally was able to see the article, I quickly remembered the Saturday when Bob came to Hooter’s with his son after his football game. As I read the article, I was intrigued by Bob’s experiment. I kept reading. Finally, I came to the comments. I was not surprised to see how many people have distaste for Hooters, especially when it comes to children. However, I was disappointed to see how quickly people judge the restaurant and the girls, without even stepping through the doors.
Firstly, Hooter Girls are not the enemy. What you see in the photo is a 20 year old, George Mason student. I was a professional ballet student at the Washington Ballet, I graduated in the top of my class with an IB diploma, and the only thing that stood in the way of Georgetown was the tuition. I support myself on entirely on my own, and I am paying my way through school. Hooters has made this possible for me. When you walk into the restaurant, you will see half a dozen girls just like me. Working to make a living, to support themselves, to support their families. You will see the girl next door, friendly and confident. No Barbie dolls here. No ill intent.
Secondly, I applaud Bob for bringing his son to Hooters. As a daughter, I think it is very important to have an open, honest relationship with your children. You have to be the friend and the parent. If you can develop that kind of relationship with your kids early on, it’s only going to make it that much easier for them to open up about issues like sex. So yes, I think bringing your kids to Hooters is perfectly acceptable, and a good way to open the doors to issues of sexuality that are bound to come up, whether you’ve been to Hooters or not.
I’ve had countless encounters with boys and girls of all ages while working at Hooters, and Bob’s son reacted as expected. Most boys under the age of 13 are shy, awkward, and usually embarrassed to even look at me, let alone talk to me. More often than not, kids hardly even notice I am there. So does Hooters send a negative message to kids? Maybe, but that’s why they have parents to teach them the right messages, and that’s really what this is all about.
I can’t change the way people view Hooters as an industry. Some people will always love it, and some will always hate it. But I can change the way people see me, the Hooters waitress. I am confident that after reading this, people won’t see an objectified girl in that photo, but a strong, independent girl, and I can only hope that people will see that in all the girls I work with. And I hope that as the debates rage on, regardless of whether or not you approve of Bob’s “experiment,” parents will take every opportunity to really get to know their kids, and give them the tools they need to be a well balanced member of society.
If anyone has any questions, I am here to answer.