Want to be a Chinese flight attendant? Don’t bother if you’re not pretty

China’s commercial airline industry is expanding as rapidly as its economy. And with it, so too is the same sexism flaunted by Western carriers in the early, heyday of commercial air travel where only the hottest women landed jobs as stewardesses–a sexy, exotic position steeped in international flair and cosmopolitism.

Today, things are different in the West; they’re now called flight attendants and some of them are even men!

China, however, is mired in the 1960s where being an airline stewardesses is still the aspiration of so many pretty women and the apple of desire for every man.

National carriers, such as China Southern, unabashedly promote this image with nothing short of beauty pageants as part of their hiring practice. According to a recent article by Ching-Ching Ni which explores what it takes to be a flight attendant in China, successful applicants must be of certain height, weight, age, and beauty. Those that don’t make the cut can honestly say they’ve been discriminated against.

But, I have to admit, I flew on China Southern earlier this month and the stewardesses, er… I mean flight attendants were all immaculately dressed, extraordinarily attentive, and very pretty.

Hmm, I think the Chinese might be on to something here…