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Monday, November 30, 2015

Pretty girl jobs

A young man mentioned to me the other day that certain jobs are basically those that strippers would do if they had college degrees.

For instance, advertising account executive. They get hired in large part because of their looks, and also because they have pleasing personalities. They don't get hired because they're mistaken for marketing geniuses.

When was the last time you saw a plain woman who worked at Sotheby's or Christie's? An auction house hoping to present an elegant facade wants traditionally beautiful women to augment that impression. And management knows that if you're going to throw away a bundle on art, you at least want that money collected by enticing women. Even if those women don't know anything about art.

Pharmaceutical reps are supposed to have some understanding of chemistry, and biology. But if you've ever seen the women who traipse around to doctors' offices hawking recently FDA-approved drugs, you realize that their number one qualification is pulchitrude. Doctors are only human, and more susceptible to the blandishments of someone they want sex with. Science be damned.

Ditto for photographers' reps, though a college degree isn't a requirement there.

Even Wall Street hires saleswomen for their looks. Look at the contrast between the traders, analysts, investment bankers, and internal technology people on the one hand, and the female salespeople on the other. Or just ask yourself this simple-but-telling question: how many of the former have had plastic surgery, vs. how many of the latter?

How many female newscasters do you see who aren't good-looking? Sure, a beauty might be disqualified by an overly strong regional or ethnic accent. But it's not as if what separates the women who get the on air jobs from their fellow Communications majors is a keen grasp of realpolitik.

As always, the gap between what employers will say ("We want self starters, hard workers willing to roll their sleeves up and learn the business") and what they mean ("We want good looks") is yawning.

You'll never see a help wanted ad for these jobs which specifies beauty as a requirement. But that doesn't mean that isn't the primary prerequisite. As the young man pointed out, these are all jobs where women get hired mostly because of their sex appeal.

The same reason strippers get hired.


mark said...

Being a handsome guy doesn't hurt in the news biz either. Partly, I think, is that the young guy is going to be paired with a pretty hot young lady and it looks odd if there is too big a difference. Older news guys can get away with it but I suspect many of them were fairly handsome 30 years ago. CEO's also have a certain look to them. Not that they look good, they usually do look distinguished. You and I just pay more attention to the ladies. I suspect that almost all of the men running for President or in better shape than Hillary. Once beauty enters into the equation like it did in the news business, I suspect it pushes plain out. The floor gets raised but perhaps not the ceiling.

John Craig said...

Mark --
True, looks help for male newscasters. But for most of those other jobs I mentioned, men generally don't get hired, or if they do, it's for reasons other than their looks.

I know what you mean about CEO's. A fair number look like cruise ship show captains, or Presidents of universities. Not necessarily good-looking, but distinguished-looking.

Most of the men running for President are in better shape than Hillary. Bernie's old, and looks it, and Huckabee and Christie are overweight. Christie looks as if he could keel over at any minute.

Runner Katy said...

Since we're being honest here, I don't know what strip clubs you've been to, but the girls I've seen only look good in those extremely dark rooms. None of those girls would have been hired (if they had said degrees) as a pharm rep or news reporter. I completely agree with you that most of those jobs (and many sales type jobs) are reserved for good looking woman (and some good looking men). Office supply sales, and any traveling sales people would also be included in this.

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
Honestly, I've only been to maybe three strip clubs in my life, and I recorded my reaction to them here:

The ones I went to were pretty downmarket, and I'd tend to agree with you, but I've heard that the ones at fancier places can be quite pretty. I know what you're saying, though, a lot of them seem to have something intrinsically wrong with them, and are somehow damaged people. And I agree, stripping is generally a job for dummies who would have a hard time getting their degree even if presented with the opportunity.

But I think there are some who end up doing other stuff; every now and then you'll hear about some college girl who supports herself by stripping, or by having a sugar daddy (there's evidently a website for that now) or some such.

Anyway, I think the point the young man was making was that for certain jobs, the primary requirement is sex appeal, the same as it is for stripping, and that's hard to argue with.

Anonymous said...

Of course for the most part I agree but Carly Fiorina's face is repulsive. Didn't seem to hurt her. Exception that proves rule?

John Craig said...

Anon --
I actually don't find Carly Fiorina physically repulsive; she's a little witchy-looking, but not as ugly as Trump originally suggested (and you suggest). But I don't think of Presidential candidate as a job where being pretty necessarily helps a woman.

Anonymous said...

That was me, about Fiorina. Forgot to sign off.

I think her face is loathsome. It's not traditionally ugly - but there is something downright repulsive about it.

Neither politics nor business requires conventional prettiness but having a face that's repulsive is a handicap. Mrs. Thatcher wasn't conventionally pretty but in her earlier years there was something fetching about her in a traditional British way.

And of course, that intellect didn't hurt. She was something.


John Craig said...

Lady Bug --
I guess what you find loathsome about Fiorina's face must be the combination of naked ambition written there, smoothed out somewhat by plastic surgery. As I said, I don't find her face per se that off-putting (even though I think she's a sociopath).

Not so sure I'd describe the young Thatcher as "fetching," but she did have an appealing wholesomeness.

Anonymous said...

I imagine airlines would like to hire pretty girls as flight attendants, a college degree being optional.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
I think that used to be the case, I haven't gotten that impression in a while though.