Hooters in 2024 a far cry from the decades past, say Winnipeg pageant queens

Empowerment. Confidence. That's how Miss Hooters Winnipeg pageant queens are describing how times have changed at Hooters in the last 40 years. Joanne Roberts has the story.

The Hooters from the 1980’s is not the Hooters of 2024. For the first time in 15 years, the Miss Hooters Winnipeg pageant has been revived along with what it means to be a Hooters girl.

“Hooters, to me, is actually more about empowering women and making us feel confident,” said Korlysse Buhay, who has been working at Hooters for nine years.

Buhay, who spent the last two months learning how to juggle for the pageant’s talent competition, is no stranger to the Hooters pageant circuit. Last year she competed at Miss Hooters International in Las Vegas, and now she’s ready to have a pageant in the city she calls home.

“We have a chance to empower our girls here and have a chance to express ourselves and show what we can have, and what our girls can do here.”

10 women are competed in the pageant Thursday evening. Buhay won the award for Miss Congeniality, which was decided by vote from all the contestants.

Natasha Vincent, who has been working at Hooters for 3 years, won 1st place at the pageant and is set to go to Nashville, Tenessee in August to compete in Miss Hooters International. Vincent performed a skip routine for the talent competition, and says participating is part of her healing journey.

“I’ll feel really good about accomplishing little goals that I had as a kid. Growing up, wanting to be a ballerina, wanting to be a model, be on the cover of Vogue. I just want all those big dreams for me,” said Vincent.

Natasha Vincent (left) placed 1st in the Miss Hooters Winnipeg pageant and Korlysse Buhay (right) won the Miss Congeniality Award. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Vincent says the family atmosphere of the restaurant extends not only to the workers but also the pageant. She said she did her best make sure everyone’s experience was a good one.

“Lots of girls grow up not feeling seen or feeling like they’re always in the background. I want them to feel good and feel independent and feel strong when they’re on the stage because off the stage they might not feel like that.”

Vincent says through the years, Hooters has become more community-oriented. In fact, all the proceeds from the pageant — over $3,000 — are going to K9 Advocates in Manitoba.

“Every single girl that works here does something for the community,” said Vincent.

Buhay adding, “We love animals and we love the K9 dogs. It’s something that hits close for us.”

For Buhay, she says the whole point of the pageant and the franchise is about being confident in people’s bodies and self-expression, however people choose.

“Find something that truly brings you home, makes you feel good about yourself and just go with that,”she said.

“I say fake it ’till you make it, honestly,” said Vincent. “Acting! You always have to act, be who you wanna be, do whatever you like. Just be you.”

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