The official statement put forth by the Hooters corporate office in regards to the physical standards to which they hold their servers is that the policy is neither illegal nor unfair, comparing it to those of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or Radio City Hall Rockettes.
Is it really the same thing? Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are chosen for their looks, but according to the FAQ section on their official website, they do not have a standard for weight or height. They require only that their dancers’ appearance is “lean” and proportionate. The Radio City Hall Rockettes do have specific height requirements, but weight is not measured. Whether or not this practice is morally justifiable, there is a very clear distinction to be made here: health vs. aesthetics. The dancers in question are subject to health and fitness testing that involves much more than appearance. Both jobs demand intense athletic activity unlike anything required of Hooters employees. The Rockettes and cheerleaders must look good in their uniforms, but it's at least partly a matter of health. The Rockettes have to be healthy and physically able to do their jobs. It would be dangerous, if not impossible, to do what they do if they were not in peak physical condition. This is not a justification Hooters can claim.
Not only is Hooters’ policy hard to justify, but it may also be dangerous to their employees’ health. Note that Hooter’s uniforms only come in three sizes: small, x-small, and xx-small. Cassandra told interviewers that she was not wearing the largest size available. If it were a matter of her shorts becoming tighter, she might have been asked to simply exchange her uniform for the next size up. Instead, she stands to lose her job if she does not start to lose weight within one month. It’s unclear how much she weighed when she was hired, but losing 5 pounds now would actually put her below the healthy BMI range.
Though no store managers have been interviewed, there may be women at our restaurants in Albuquerque who are starving themselves to keep their jobs. So why work there? It may not be easy to sympathize with women who knowingly endanger themselves by selling their body-image to the public. Nevertheless, Cassandra Smith’s case is evidence that America’s “skinny” obsession is getting worse.