The anecdotes in the article are pretty shocking:
Dedicated to protecting the safety of others, Lake Barrington’s Shari Worrell once performed mouth-to-mouth to save a man’s life. Another time, she used a pair of earphones, a small drinking cup and “occupied” stickers meant for the bathroom door to fashion a MacGyver-esque stethoscope needed by a doctor. Throughout her career, she received three awards of merit for her lifesaving efforts.
But before she started her job each day, Worrell had to step on the scale to prove she weighed between 105 and 118 pounds, undergo an inspection to make sure the seams in her stockings were straight and submit to a girdle check.
We’ve often heard the flight attendants say “we are primary here for your health and safety,” but if MacGyver here could be fired for being 120 pounds, it looks like they used to primarily be around for your viewing pleasure.
An it wasn’t just gender-based issues the flight attendants worked with.
Even as flight attendants were fighting to change those antiquated discriminations against women, Worrell remembers how she once had to leave a restaurant because it refused to serve her black co-worker. A cross-section of society, the world of flight attendants during her era included women, blacks, homosexuals and others who benefited from the protections guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act…
I was always torn about that. Because, to be honest, the airlines themselves glamorized sexism. So, in that spirit, Pan Am was being true to what was going on back then.
But I’m not calling out the airline industry on this one. This is the way things were back then. Which is why what the flight attendants did is so important across multiple industries.
The vintage ad I always think of when I try to remind myself how much things have changed is this one for Schlitz: