Recruiting For Looks

I met a young man recently who mentioned that his girl friend had quit her job. I know her; she is a young, well educated, smart and good looking person. The reason for her quitting the job was that she felt that she was recruited for her good looks and not for her talent. It seems that her boss often suggested the dress she should be wearing when they [as consultants] met prospective clients. She hated such a treatment and quit the job.
Ask any HR manager who has the experience of recruiting secretaries for the top managers and he will tell you that only good looks count.
The selection criteria for Air Hostesses make another such story. The advertisements often mention ‘clear skin’ which is a euphemism for fair skin. Kingfisher advertises that the requirement, among other things, is ‘Flawless skin with no visible tattoos, birthmarks, blemishes.’ The advertisement on says ‘The potential air-hostesses – called flying models by Kingfisher – are expected to exude charm, vibrance [sic] and professionalism….’
I once travelled Qantas and found some flight pursers resembling the stocky Australian cricketer David Boon. They did not look bad, and they were efficient too. Why can’t the criterion be ‘being presentable?’
Wikipedia mentions the rules and regulations for the ‘Singapore Girl’ of Singapore Airlines, here are some: [Picture courtesy Wikipedia] [Quote]
  • The airline requires stewardesses and stewards to colour their hair black or dark brown. The airline does not allow for stewardesses or stewards to use highlights. Acceptable shades of hair colours are black or dark brown. Stewardesses with long hair are to coil their hair into buns or French Twists. Stewards are to sport short hair above their collar lines and sideburns no longer than the ear lobes. Fringes (bangs) of Stewards do not touch eyebrows.
  • No fanciful, dangling earrings allowed. Only studs or pearls. No chains and necklaces allowed. Only simple bracelets and rings can be worn. Only small and simple watches can be worn.
  • Toenails must be of the bright red colour prescribed by the company. If her toenails are not painted, stockings must be worn to substitute for the non red toenails.
  • Eyebrows must be shaped, and cannot be the fake drawn-on or tattooed types. Eye shadow must be of the colour prescribed by the company – either blue or brown, depending on skin tone.
  • Lipstick colour must be among the few shades of bright red prescribed by the company. Pink or plum colours are not allowed.
  • Nail polish must be of the bright red colour prescribed by the company. Nails should not be chipped.

The Singapore Girl marketing concept has been criticized as being sexist – apart from the inaccuracy of the term “Girl”, the concept has been accused of being a stereotype of Asian women as being desirable and subservient to white males.[unquote] [Emphasis supplied]

I have often felt that [notwithstanding the story in the opening paragraph] women managers are often more insensitive than men in some of these issues. I was speechless when I met a young Management Trainee recently. I could not recognise her. The reason was that the young lady had done a ‘make over.’ Her boss, a middle aged lady had strongly ‘advised’ her that the management trainee was in a corporate job and must look like a corporate manager! So a make-over was necessary and the young lady complied. Not just men, but women also often treat other women like Barbie dolls!
Somebody has said that high achievers among women [and he quoted Indira Gandhi] are perceived as good looking. Women should not be recruited for their beauty, just as women should show courage to stop people using them for their looks alone.