In the mid-1940s, an intriguing advertisement for a “TWA Air Hostess” caught someone’s attention. It seemed that the ideal candidate needed to possess certain “qualifications” that would undoubtedly be considered unlawful in today’s professional world. The ad sought a young, impressionable woman, likely to charm the predominantly male passengers who frequented the airline for business and other affairs across the United States.
The job listing explicitly stated that they weren’t interested in an educated woman. The suitable applicant would have merely “one year of college” or possess “other” experience, such as being a “registered nurse.” The advertisement specified an age range of twenty-one to twenty-six years and height and weight requirements that were strikingly precise. The women needed to be between five feet two inches and five feet six inches tall and weigh somewhere between one hundred and one hundred thirty pounds.
Furthermore, the applicant’s romantic life mattered too. Those applying for a position with Transcontinental and Western Air, Incorporated, were required to be single—married women need not apply. The ad provided information about when and where eligible women could attend an interview for the coveted air hostess role with TWA.
“Interviews conducted Friday, September 21 at the Herring Hotel from ten a.m. until seven p.m.” Prospective candidates were advised to “contact Miss Dorothy Rotenhagen” for additional details.
This job posting eventually resurfaced on Reddit, sparking over four thousand comments as people both praised and mocked the advertisement’s blatantly sexist nature.
One commenter reminisced, “My aunt was a flight attendant in the ’60s. They had to be pretty, maintain a certain weight, and be single. If they married, they had to quit. They were also required to wear makeup and do their hair according to guidelines.”
Another shared, “My mom was a flight attendant in the ’70s. She trained herself to sleep on her back in full hair and makeup in case she got called in. I can’t even imagine that today.”
A third commenter revealed, “My mom was also an attendant in the 60s. She was weighed before every flight. If she were a pound over 135, she was not allowed on the plane and not paid for the day. It had absolutely no effect on her mental health and relationship with food, and in no way passed that trauma to her children. It’s all cool and good.”
One individual even recounted their experience of being recruited for a Federal Air Marshal position, also known as Sky Marshal, and the inappropriate sales pitch that accompanied it. “As a graduate of a top private college and military vet father, I was called in for recruitment as Federal Air Marshal. One of their sales pitches was unlimited sex with stewardesses who were dormed with other flight crew before return flights.”
This tale of an advertisement from a bygone era serves as a reminder of the progress made toward workplace equality and the ongoing fight against gender-based discrimination. It stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of women who endured such conditions, and a call to never repeat the mistakes of the past.
WATCH the video below for more details: