These South Florida 'Hooters girls' aren't just eye candy

Calendar pin-ups Amberly Hall, Tabitha Karol embrace sex appeal, shed stigma

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. - November has been good to Amberly Hall and Tabitha Karol.

Were it not for their employer, they'd be perfect strangers.

Instead, these two South Florida "Hooters girls" are gracing the pages of the Florida-founded restaurant chain's recently released international calendar.

The 15-month calendar, featuring the bikini-clad ladies who work for Hooters, spans from October 2017 to December 2018.

"Which is why we both are on different pages, but we are both representing the great month of November," Hall told Local10.com earlier this month.

This November's pin-up girl is Karol, who grew up in Stuart and graduated from Florida Atlantic University in May. She's worked for Hooters for three years.

Hall, who was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is featured in the month of November 2018. She started working at Hooters when she was 18 years old and moved to South Florida after representing her home state in the Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant.

Even though they've never worked at the same location together, these two beauties got to know each other because of the calendar, joining forces for billboard shoots, radio interviews and hospital appearances.

They're the fortunate ones among a laundry list of ladies who didn't make the cut.

Making the cut

A total of 187 Hooters girls in South Florida submitted photographs in the hopes of appearing in the calendar, but only 81 were selected to shoot for it.

"So everything from Sarasota down on the west coast and Boca Raton down on the east coast is our franchise," Hall said of the 16 Hooters locations.

Only 200 Hooters girls make the calendar, which has been printed annually since 1986.

"It's highly competitive," Hall said.

"Very," Karol added.

The tryout process differs from franchise to franchise.

"Here in South Florida, we actually take it a little bit of a step further and we do an in-person tryout," Hall said. "So you sign up for a time, there's an interview process, you shoot with a Hooters calendar photographer just with a backdrop so they can see how you are in front of the camera and then from there they select who will be shooting for the calendar."

The tryout process includes a bikini shoot, a uniform shoot and a recorded interview.

"Because it's more than just about, you know, if you can take a picture," Hall said. "It's a lot more than that."

Karol, who works at the Boca Raton location, was photographed on the beach in Fort Lauderdale.
Hall was photographed in Las Vegas at the most recent Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant, where she finished first runner-up representing Fort Lauderdale.

'We do a lot of things that people don't realize'

Both women certainly exude plenty of sex appeal -- their calendar spreads only reinforce this -- but with it can come a stigma that Hall believes is unfairly put upon them.

"I actually find that a lot of people that hold that stigma or really believe that have actually never stepped foot inside of a Hooters," Hall said.

She said there are a lot of misconceptions about what takes place behind closed doors at Hooters restaurants that just aren't true.

"Especially about the hiring process," Hall said.

She points to the positive things that Hooters girls do for their communities.

"Like this calendar, a dollar goes to breast cancer research for every sale," Hall said. "We have 'Operation Calendar Drop.' We partner with Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. We do a lot of, kind of, silent charity work along with it, and we do a lot of things that people don't realize."

Indeed, there is more than meets the eye with Hall and Karol, who stress that Hooters isn't just image-based.

"It's about taking young women and instilling confidence and poise and giving them a platform to be more responsible and enjoy doing more community work and getting out there and truly becoming … experienced and confident grown women that are able to handle anything that life throws at them," Hall said.

She said many of her contemporaries have gotten modeling careers after working at Hooters.

"You will not find a girl who has done that who doesn't thank Hooters for starting them off," Hall said.

Once a tomboy, Hall said she lacked confidence and wasn't sure about her future when she started working at Hooters after graduating from high school.

"And now I'm gracing the pages of an international calendar," Hall joked.

Hooters waitress or superhero?

Along with the typical image of the Hooters girl comes some controversy. 

Hooters has been the subject of several discrimination lawsuits through the years by men seeking jobs as servers. Men have been hired by the restaurant chain (Hall's old regional manager back home started out as a cook), but it's very much a business in which women rule the roost.

"We try to stick to our idea and our image, which has been our tradition for so many years now, and that is when you walk in, you see the Hooters girl on the floor or behind the bar and you're welcomed and you're happy," Hall said. "So we stick with that, but we provide as many opportunities as we can with whoever wants to be hired."

Then there are the uniforms. A Michigan woman sued Hooters in 2010, alleging that she was told to lose weight to better fit into her uniform or lose her job.

Hall and Karol have no qualms about their attire. They both love the look.

"It's almost like a superhero putting on, you know, her costume," Hall said. "Like, I feel like a different person when I am in this uniform."

For Karol, the outfit is more than just a sexy costume. It also helps her to feel better, which in turn helps her perform better when she's on the job.

"Not just the shorts and a tank top, but the whole thing," Karol said. "It's like the girl next door. Like, your hair is done. Your makeup's on point. It's not just throwing on the uniform. I personally like that, like, getting all dolled up."

Hall equates it to being like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. In similar fashion, Hooters girls have a stringent uniform policy that they must adhere to as a condition of employment.

"They're not the ones that people think," Hall said.

The signature orange shorts are measured so that they aren't too revealing. No bras or tattoos can be showing. No nose piercings are allowed, nor can earrings surpass a certain size.

"Our guidelines are actually geared more toward keeping things wholesome and comfortable for whoever walks through the door," Hall said.

These are enforced with uniform checks before every shift.

"No rips in your pantyhose," Karol said of the legwear. "Everything has to look fresh and clean."

Helping the next generations of 'Hooties'

Hooters is Karol's first and only experience working in the service industry. She sees it as more than just a job, but as a career.

The same can be said of Hall, who is pushing a decade with the restaurant chain. She expects to be with Hooters in another 10 years from now, though not necessarily wearing the orange shorts.

"I see myself up within corporate and doing what I can to kind of help inspire the next generation of Hooters girls," Hall said.

Hall said she already feels like a mentor to Karol and other new "Hooties," as she calls them.

"I want to guide her along and do everything I can, you know, to help her succeed," Hall said.

The Hooters calendar is on sale now for $12.95. Hooters will donate $1 of every sale to the Kelly Jo Dowd fund for breast cancer research. Dowd is a former Hooters calendar cover girl-turned-manager who died of breast cancer in 2007.

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