What Happened to Hot Stewardesses?

by John Derbyshire

On the subject of airline stewardesses, it’s worth checking Studs Terkel’s 1974 book Working, which includes ten pages of testimony from one Terry Mason, who “has been an airline stewardess for six years.” I included some of that testimony in a Straggler column once:

There was no such thing as a flight attendant in 1974. The nearest subject Terkel gives us is an “airline stewardess,” who grumbles at length about the rigors of “stew school” (“We’d go through a whole week of make-up and poise … They showed you how to smoke a cigarette …”) and the wandering hands of her clientele (“The majority of passengers do make passes …”)

(Working is on Google Books, but for reasons unknown to me they have chosen to show the relevant pages upside down.)

On the hotness issue — and yes, I know I’m moving out onto thin ice here: I shall tread carefully — one topic that comes up a lot among guys of my age (mid-60s) is how much better looking everyone is nowadays. Really interestingly good-looking young women used to occur at a frequency of about one in twenty. Nowadays it’s more like one in three. Much was made of the hotness of Amanda Knox after four years in an Italian jail; but when the family-reunion pictures appeared, it turned out her sister was even hotter. What are the odds?

The same seems to be true of young men. Even nerds are good-looking nowadays. The reasons are mostly obvious: better nutrition, universal orthodontistry, gym culture, the end of promiscuous smoking, …

I guess this is something we should celebrate. I guess.