At 30 years of age, Meena Kit-Hen is lucky in that, unlike a number of other Thai nationals, she has already been able to set foot outside of her home country. Yesterday (July 7), when she boarded a flight from Bangkok, she began what can only be described as a once-in a-lifetime journey when she headed towards Las Vegas, in America, where she will represent Hooters Phuket in the annual Miss Hooters International 2016 beauty pageant.
Meena was crowned Miss Hooters Phuket at the Miss Hooters Phuket Swimsuit Pageant held at the iconic American bar and restaurant in Patong on April 3, and not only did she take the title and the trip to Las Vegas, she also took home some B20,000 cash in prize money.
She is a native of the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum and has been working at Hooters Phuket since its opening in 2014. However, previously, as a way of financing her education she took up various positions within the hotel and service industry, including a stint on an around-the-world Disney cruise.
The Phuket News was recently lucky to have an opportunity to catch up with Meena before she took off on her epic journey to the fantastic Viva Las Vegas to find out more about her job at Hooters and what she hopes to achieve in Miss Hooters International Pageant 2016.
Meena started by explaining that the general perception about Hooters girls is that it’s all about being sexy. She does agree that being sexy is a small part of being able to fit into the role, mainly due to the outlet’s uniforms, but the most important thing is to be able to be friendly.
“We are like friends to our customers,” she said, “and we have to make them happy. But don’t forget, our customers are not only single men, we also entertain a lot of couples, families and groups of friends.”
When asked about life working for Hooters, Meena said, “It’s an amazing opportunity, all the girls enjoy working here, we are friends, we are one big family.
“It’s a very good job for me because I like to meet new people and I like to entertain,” she said. “But what I like most about my job is that it is so much fun. I have worked on a world cruise before, but this is far more fun,” she added.
Since being selected to represent Hooters Phuket in the annual beauty pageant, Meena said that her confidence has grown immensely, but more importantly it has made her take more care of her body and her looks.
“Now I go to the gym more often and I eat a lot more healthily than I did before,” she said.
Despite her job being located in Phuket, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s there 100 per cent of the time, and with more branches set to open in more countries across Asia, Meena knows that she will soon be stepping away from the island to greet and introduce more girls to the Hooters world.
“We are soon to open new branches of Hooters in Hong Hong, Phnom Penh, Bali, Manila, Malaysia, Singapore and more locally Koh Samui, and that will mean I will be able to travel to those countries and teach the girls there all about being a Hooters girl,” she said.
Turning the subject to the big competition, which this year will be the 20th edition and will see nearly 300 Hooters girls show off their assets in three main categories: bikini, cocktail dress and Hooters uniform. Each are vying for the chance to win a grand prize of US$30,000 (about B1.05 million) cash as well as a lucrative contract to become the international brand ambassador for Hooters restaurants. Meena says that she has been doing a lot of preparation for the big event.
“I’ve been doing so much leading up to this competition. I’ve been improving my runway walk and working out a lot more than usual,” she said, “and of course I’ve been praying to Buddha,” she said with a laugh.
When asked what she is most looking forward to about the competition, Meena explained that for her, personally, it is not just about gaining more confidence, experience and meeting new friends. She will also be able to present Thai culture to the judges and to the other contestants.
“I am so proud to be representing Thailand and showing the rest of the world what Thailand has to offer when it comes to national costume and customs. But most importantly, I will be showing everybody how beautiful and intelligent us girls from Thailand really are,” she said.
It is not only Meena who will be representing Thailand, she will be joined by the winners of the Miss Hooters Bangkok and Miss Hooters Pattaya 2016 pageants – Neera Wongai and Jessica Arra, respectively, both of whom Meena already knows, especially Jessica who initially worked alongside Meena in Phuket but recently decided to join the team in Pattaya.
The Phuket News wishes all three girls the best of luck and hope that the judges will agree with so many men from around the globe that Thai ladies are certainly some of the most beautiful and intelligent you can find.