Opinion: Dear Hooters You’re No Expert On What’s “Natural”

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I’ve been known to patronize the fine culinary establishment known as Hooters from time to time. Don’t judge me. I really like the buffalo shrimp and chipotle honey wings.

But like everyone else, I don’t walk in expecting much in the way of authenticity. Rather, what I expect from the self-proclaimed “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” eatery is for some half-dressed woman, wearing about 2 pounds of MAC and bursting out of a tank-top that would probably fit my six-year-old, to serve my table.

But according to a recent Baltimore Sun article, a former Inner Harbor Hooters waitress is suing the restaurant, alleging that she was fired for having—wait for it—an “unnatural” hair color for an African-American.

So basically the restaurant known for silicone and saline as much as wings and beer wants to make hiring decisions based on what’s “natural?”

According to the report, former “Hooters Girl” Farryn Johnson, 25, was told that the blonde streak in her hair was “unnatural” for an African-American and was a violation of the “glamorous, wholesome look for which Hooters is known.”

Johnson alleges in her lawsuit that other non-black waitresses had similarly “unnatural” streaks and dyes in their hair, but that she was the only one instructed to change her hair color or face termination.

Okay Hooters, did you not get the memo from the recent debacle out of California, where the EEOC granted Voneva Denham the right to file a policies available online, all that’s stated is that women should “wear the right color for your skin tone,” stressing that “highlights should be complimentary to your original hair color.” Johnson’s subtle golden streak both complimented her seemingly natural chestnut-colored hair and could hardly be considered a clear violation of the “Hooters Girl” policies—especially if, as she alleges in her lawsuit, the policy wasn’t applied evenly across the board. The case just reeks of racial discrimination.

It’s also worth asking who appointed Hooters, or the Hilton for that matter, the authority on what is a “natural” hue for a woman of color, when hair can range naturally from kinky to wavy to straight, with hues from jet black to golden blonde?

You’re Hooters. HOOTERS! You’ve created an entire business model out of objectifying women and selling sex via the “Hooters Girl.” You’ve never been a voice on what’s “natural.” You’re unapologetically tacky, and up until now, I almost kinda liked you for it. I humbly suggest you just stick to wings.

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