A photographic historical look at the sexy stewardesses of the 1960s-1980s

The flight attendant profession took a permanent form in the 1930s as "women's work", that is, work not only performed primarily by women, but also to embody white, middle-class ideals of femininity. also defined as

As the nascent commercial aviation industry sought to lure good-heeled passengers into the air, airline managers and hostesses together defined the new field of in-flight passenger service around the social ideal of "hostess".

The most important duty of a hostess was to muster the nurturing instincts and domestic skills to serve passengers, just as middle class, white women were expected to treat guests in their homes.

However, the crystallized idea of ​​early airlines about the hostess also demanded that the hostess be as desirable as she was nurturing. From the very beginning, the job of hostess was confined to fair, young, unmarried, skinny and attractive women.

A 1936 New York Times article described the requirements: Girls who qualify for hostess must be beautiful; weight 100 to 118 pounds; Height 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches; Age 20 to 26 years. In addition, rigorous physical exams should be done four times every year, and you are assured of blooming blooms with perfect health.

Post-WWII America changed drastically and millions of Americans began to travel by plane and the hostess profession expanded further.

Now, young working women didn't have to change beds or take dictations; They could travel the world, meet important people and lead exciting lives. The hostess position was well-paid, prestigious, and daring – and it quickly became the nation's most coveted job for women.

Scores of eligible young women applied for each opening so that airlines had their photo and could only rent the creme de la creme. To win a hostess position, an applicant must be young, beautiful, unmarried, well groomed, slim, attractive, intelligent, well educated, blonde, heterosexual and bold.

In other words, the post-war hostess embodied the ideal woman of mainstream America. She became a role model for American girls, and an ambassador for femininity and the American way abroad.

Appearance was considered one of the most important factors for becoming a hostess. At the time, airlines believed that exploitation of female sexuality would increase their profits; Thus the female flight attendant's uniform was often fitted perfectly with white gloves and high-heeled shoes.

In the United States, they were required to be unmarried and were fired if they decided to marry. A hostess could not get pregnant. A hostess could not be older than her thirties.

Since no one tried to hide the fact that flight attendants were meant to be eye candy, it was a fun time for big-name designers to dress them up and come up with sexy new tricks to promote air travel. .

In 1968, Jean-Louis gave United Airlines hostesses a simple, modern A-line dress with a wide stripe in the front and around the collar, and paired it with a large, blocky caffey-type hat.

The hostess image reached its height of sexualization, becoming a collective cultural fantasy that airlines shamelessly promoted through their advertising.

According to Kathleen Barry's Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight, the dark side of this trope was that women who held this coveted position were often subjected to sexual assault by drunken passengers, who forced hostesses while working. Could pinch, pat and propose. waiter.

Despite their dual roles as servants and objects of sexual fantasy, hostesses were fighting for change within the airline industry. The first complainants to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were female flight attendants complaining of age discrimination, weight requirements, and marriage restrictions.

Originally female flight attendants were fired if they reached the age of 32 or 35 depending on the airline, if they exceeded the weight rules, they were fired, and if they got married. So they need to be hired and fired.

In 1968, the EEOC declared the age restriction on the employment of flight attendants illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1971 the ban on hiring only women in all airlines was lifted. By the 1980s, the no-marriage rule had been abolished throughout the US airline industry. Previous such broadly explicit discrimination, weight restrictions, were relaxed in the 1990s through litigation and negotiation.

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