A former flight attendant said she was forced to undergo weight checks in the '80s and had to stay at 120 pounds to keep her job
- Former TWA
flight attendantAnn Hood said she was always stressed about her weight on the job.
- In her memoir, Hood wrote that there were weigh-ins and some hires were fired for their size.
When Ann Hood became a TWA flight attendant in 1979, the 21-year-old college graduate's dream job was less glamorous than she thought it would be.
As the Rhode Island native wrote in her memoir, "Fly Girl," released May 3, much of the job entailed "draconian" rules and regulations centered around image — including unannounced weight checks.
And while the airline seemed to have a preference for new hires with college degrees, Hood wrote, "flight attendants were still chosen in no small part for good looks, and with height and weight requirements."
"Your hem and high heels had to be a certain height. Earrings could only dangle so far. Your lipstick was supposed to match the stripe of your blazer," Hood, now 65, told Insider, adding that it was a "not good" maroon color.
Any act of defiance — say, wearing pink lipstick — could trigger a supervisor's wrath, according to Hood. "If you didn't have that TWA look, they could write you up — and discuss the color of the lipstick," she said.
As she wrote in "Fly Girl," shirking these rules could lead to termination. "People were fired for wearing the wrong lipstick, looking sullen, having chipped nail polish, and scores of other reasons that seem archaic now," she wrote.
High heels were mandatory, Ann Hood says
Decades after leaving the profession in 1986, Hood remembers the pain of wearing high heels — which she said were mandatory for women — on long flights.
"Sometimes you were just wincing as you walk," she told Insider. "Imagine doing a flight to Cairo — 14 hours wearing those things."
In "Fly Girl," Hood described a training that involved practicing "the proper way to walk in our high heels up and down the 747s' iconic spiral staircase that led to the lounge, repeatedly bringing trays of cocktails and food upstairs on our mock-up plane with a particular — and difficult to master — ankle-crossing walk."
There were consequences for gaining weight
At 5-foot-7, Hood said she was 120 pounds when she began working at TWA and was told she would need to stay that way. "We were told every step of the way — in the application process, interview, and training," she said, speaking of the requirement to remain at one's hiring weight.
During a six-month probation period for new hires, unannounced weigh-ins for flight attendants were common, according to Hood, who wrote that "any infraction" could lead to termination.
"After the six-month probation, you could still be fired for weight gain, but there were not mandatory weigh ins," she told Insider.
"I was so skinny, but I was always worried," she said. "You wait for the other shoe to drop," she said of the fallout of gaining some weight from eating in-flight meals such as the beloved pot roast.
In "Fly Girl," Hood detailed the lengths she and other flight attendants would go to in order to manage their weight.
"Imagine a gaggle of tall, pretty, thin young women sitting in the sauna at the YMCA of Boston, trying to sweat off pounds," she wrote. "Ridiculous when you consider that by most people's standards, we were already considered underweight."
"But, scared of losing our jobs, that's exactly what we did," she wrote.
In her memoir, Hood described other dubious weight-loss methods she and her colleagues tried, including using diuretics, "a crazy diet that called for eating nine bananas one day, nine eggs the next, and nine hot dogs on the third," and drinking water "until a pound or two came off."
The rules applied to all flight attendants — even new moms
Hood told Insider that male flight attendants — who represented 14.3% of the total pool of the industry in 1980, according to US Census Bureau data cited by FiveThirtyEight — were beholden to the rules, too. "Men had the same rules with weight and they had to be clean-shaven," she said.
New moms weren't immune to the weight limits either, Hood said. "Even flight attendants returning from maternity leave as recently as 1986 had to weigh in before every flight and lose one and a half pounds a week to meet their hiring weight within 20 weeks or get fired," she wrote.
It isn't all that different today. Some flight attendants still contend with guidelines around their weight and BMI numbers. For example, some former Emirates flight attendants told Insider's Maria Noyen the airline has officers — known internally as "weight police" — who monitor the weight and BMI of cabin crew, including female staff returning from maternity leave.
- Govt approves PLI scheme for making drones with outlay of Rs 120 cr, comes out with norms
- Apple transportation through drones to become reality in tribal Kinnaur district of HP
- Researchers develop device that uses sound waves to separate blood-based nanoparticles
- 5 Bihar villages to be developed into human-carnivore coexistence zone
- Delhi's air quality will likely improve from Sunday evening, says IMD
- Dharmaj Crop IPO
- Reliance Jio
- Digital Nomad Visa
- Whatsapp tips
- Air India crew guidelines
- Mukesh Ambani
- Larget Employers
- Highest Revenue companies
- New Cars in December 2022
- Best Companies for Work
- India's Richest People
- Maruti Suzuki
- Top Valuable unlisted Company
- Tata Tiago cng vs Alto k10 cng
- Top 10 Colleges in India
- Top 10 Airlines in World