The Big Problem Some Hooters Employees Have With Their New Uniforms

Hooters employees have been turning to TikTok to literally show why a recent uniform change has upset them. Video after video has revealed that at some Hooters restaurants, the already quite short shorts have been reduced to what workers described as a pair of underpants. A TikTok video by gracie.herrick displayed the text, "Hooters gets new shorts like underwear," and playfully implied that the employee might quit over the change. And according to NBC News' coverage, other workers have cracked jokes about quitting.

In case you're wondering how much shorter the new shorts are, a TikTok post by theflathootersgirl demonstrated that the previous shorts "covered everything they needed to cover," albeit with a slight cheeky reveal. However, the new version failed to cover her backside at all despite being larger than the pair she was technically supposed to wear "based on [Hooters'] size chart." After trying the recommended size, she declared, "I hate it." "What's that supposed to fit?!?" ggnguyen wrote in the description of a direct comparison between the old shorts and the strip of cloth that replaced them.

An anonymous employee told NBC News that for certain Hooters workers, the new garment "kind of just rides right up. You have a wedgie all the time." The source said the reception has been mixed. According to her, both she and employees who wore the shorts during a trial run appeared not to have a problem with them. But as they reached other places, complaints began to surface.

Hooters backtracked due to backlash

It should be noted that this is not a brand-wide change. As NBC News points out, two separate companies run their own Hooters restaurants: The Original Hooters Group and Hooters of America. Hooters of America made the decision to alter the uniforms. The Original Hooters Group explained in a statement that its dress requirements will remain unchanged.

Hooters of America defended its decision, claiming that both customers and workers gave "overwhelmingly favorable reviews" when the uniforms were tested in Texas. However, TikTok is providing reactions to the contrary, at least where workers are concerned. And commenters also seem unhappy on the employees' behalf.

Not everyone had a sympathetic reply, suggesting that Hooters' track record of objectifying workers meant they should not be "surprised." But many seemed to agree the new uniforms went too far. "Those are underpants," an aghast TikTok viewer wrote. "I love a cheeky short, but they're not cheeky. They're full moon." Some raised concerns about harassment. As one person put it, "This is so beyond not okay ... They are sexualizing their staff even more now, and putting them in real danger."

Then, on October 17, Hooters of America reached out to Business Insider to announce an adjustment in their policy: all Hooters girls will be allowed to choose the shorts they want to wear. "They can determine which style of shorts best fits their body style and personal image," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company has also received plenty of feedback about its inclusive image policy regarding tattoos, nails, and hairstyles.

The psychological toll of the job

While the recent outburst has been smoothed over with the uniform adjustment, it did raise the issue of how Hooters built its brand upon objectifying workers. This is despite the fact that Delish can easily name 11 other restaurants that have used the Hooters model by requiring employees to wear revealing uniforms.

One might imagine that such consistent ogling creates a toll on one's mental health. In fact, two psychological researchers at the University of Tennessee published an article in The Conversation in 2015 that explained that waitresses at Hooters and similar places were more likely to experience depression than waitresses in less sexualized workplaces. The pressures of voyeuristic customers and the strict control the companies place on workers' appearance increased "body shame," the researchers found during a national survey.

When that article came out, a separate piece appeared in Cosmopolitan. It highlighted two waitresses at Hooters who have had positive experiences working there. "It's a woman's choice to use her looks for money or to pay their rent every month or to pay for school," Courtney Dietz opined. This, taken with the workers NBC News reported as happy with the new uniform, indicates that the issue is less with the company's policy entirely and more about finding ways to reduce the stresses experienced by those who find themselves working there. Allowing Hooters' workers to choose which uniforms they wear is certainly a step in the right direction.