Problem

Unprofessional personal appearance

Other Names:
Lack of professional prettiness
Professional standards of beauty
Nature:
Before women entered the workforce in large numbers, there was a clearly defined class of those explicitly paid for their "beauty" -- workers in the display professions, such as fashion mannequins, actresses and dancers, prostitutes. These professional beauties were largely anonymous, low in status and unrespectable. But the stronger women grow, the more prestige, fame and money is accorded to the display professions and set as a standard for rising women to emulate. "Beauty" is subtly appearing as an occupational qualification in professions and trades further and further afield from the original display professions.

The PBQ, or Professional Beauty Qualification, became established first in occupations which are strongly visual and/or communicative: receptionist, art gallery and auction house workers, women in advertising, merchandising , design and estate agencies, the recording and film industries, journalism and publishing. The "look" was spread widely by the female newsreader. It then trickled down to the service industries : waitresses, bartenders, hostesses and catering staff. Then the PBQ was applied to any job that brings women in contact with the public. Now virtually the professions into which women are making strides are rapidly being reclassified - so far as the women in them are concerned - as display professions.

Incidence:
A 1993 survey of 3,000 British unemployed found that 94% believed that attractive men and women were more likely to find work and 69% continued to take care with their appearance. 70% remained health conscious.
Claim:
Working women becoming tense to the point of insanity about their appearance. If, at work, women were under no more pressure to be decorative than are their male peers, the pleasure of the workplace might narrow; but so would a well-tilled field of discrimination.
Related Problems:
Discrimination in employment
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET