It was only 1993 when United flight attendants reported that they were fasting, purging, and taking laxatives to keep their figure — and their jobs. If the crew members weighed more than 11 pounds over the maximum, they would receive 10 days of unpaid temporary leave, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Such rules have since been softened or outright banned in much of the world. But flight attendant hopefuls in South Korea still report significant pressure to look a certain way — and it’s leading them to take drastic measures.
Leading Korean airlines in South Korea like Asiana Airlines and Korean Air dropped their height stipulation and softened their language requirements for aspiring flight attendants in 2015, local media reported.
But in practice, thanks to a combination of factors including the job application process and Korean standards of beauty, flight attendant hopefuls have reported feeling pressured by an unspoken requirement “to be more beautiful,” The Korea Herald reported.
“The flight attendants are actually the representative of the airline,” Sojin Lim, a 25-year-old Seoul resident who worked for a domestic Korean airline, told Business Insider. “How they look will affect the image of it, so they have to always look formal and neat.”