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My Opinion

Did Hooters do Cassandra Smith a Favor?

Controversy surrounding Cassandra Smith, a 20 year old Hooters employee, is gaining momentum among civil rights activists after she was told by her employer that she ought to lose weight otherwise face termination.

Cassandra Smith "before" and "after"

According to Hooters of America, the corporate company, in an official statement, “the company does uphold image standards from the more than 17,000 Hooters girls currently serving in the more than 455 restaurants around the world.” Hooters went on to say that the employee has been “counseled about [her] weight,” even going so far as to offer Cassandra Smith a free gym membership.

A free gym membership. Not bad.

In a video statement, Cassandra Smith commented that she was told that her uniform was “not properly fitting anymore” (italics are mine). A seemingly callow remark implying that her uniform did fit at one point in her career as a Hooters waitress. To me, when a uniform, bridal gown, prom dress, business suit — clothes — no longer fit, it is a clear indication that you are putting on weight.

Cassandra Smith does not have a valid case. Ms. Smith is free to work anywhere else in this great country of freedom and choice, assuming her new employer does not have “standards.” As I’ve said before, if one willingly applies to work at an establishment where image is among the top requirements, then the applicant does indeed have an obligation to uphold that deal; handshake or contract. Cassandra Smith appears to be squatting on the “acceptance bandwagon” and might very well gain support from others who myopically interpret this as an unjust social rights violation.

I applaud Hooters; not only are they preventing Cassandra Smith from rolling down a hill headed towards obesity at an early age, but they are upholding their own corporate standards as being “delightfully tacky yet unrefined.”

JAMIE EASON WEIGHS IN:

I asked Jamie Eason, a celebrity fitness model, to comment on the Hooters corporate policy and what it means to be judged based on one’s appearance. Here is what she had to say:

Stefan Pinto: Did you ever work as a waitress?
Jamie Eason: No, I’ve never been a waitress but I have held jobs where image was an issue; ie, NFL Cheerleader for the Houston Texans.

Stefan Pinto: Do you think companies that uphold an image-based standard are in violation of one’s civil rights?
Jamie Eason: I believe that if a company hires you, they are hiring you based on your current appearance and fit for their image or brand. In this particular Hooters incident, Cassie actually lost weight from the date she was hired. It should be a non-issue.

Stefan Pinto: Cassandra Smith is 20 and 5’8” tall. Many young women reading about the controversy could misinterpret the message, some even assuming that they are overweight. How would you, as a public figure, advise young women to be happy with themselves?
Jamie Eason: Cassie is most definitely at a healthy weight and in my opinion, looks wonderful. I can understand that a company wants to hold everyone to a certain standard to maintain a consistent image for a product or service that is centered around sex appeal, however, a better practice would be to measure inches over weight because bone density, water weight and the muscle to body fat ratio can vary dramatically from person to person. Women should be less concerned with the number on the scale and focus more on the fit of their clothes.

Stefan Pinto: Should Cassandra Smith take the free gym membership to keep her job at Hooters?
Jamie Eason: I feel that the company offering her a free gym membership is above what many others might do, but a 30 day requirement is not the most realistic. I’d tell Cassie to take the free gym membership but I wouldn’t blame her if she had her lawyer look into potential weight discrimination charges because as I mentioned before, they hired her at a heavier weight, so the expectation to lose weight should have been set before the initial hire.

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