Tuesday 24 April 2018

Lorraine Courtney: Beauty is the key to getting ahead on TV – and us women are to blame for it

Presenters such as TV3's Lisa Cannon and Anna Daly are highly competent at their jobs but better looking than the average Irish woman
Presenters such as TV3's Lisa Cannon and Anna Daly are highly competent at their jobs but better looking than the average Irish woman

Can a female television presenter be attractive, sexy and still have as much gravitas as Pat Kenny? Not while she is being judged on the length of her legs, the perkiness of her boobs or the huskiness of her voice. Tori Johnson, a 'Good Morning America' contributor, was so scared of losing her job that she lost 72 pounds in one year instead. She has just published a book, 'The Shift', about her weight loss where she admits that if she hadn't gone on a carb-free diet, she wouldn't still be on American television.

Johnson's moment of epiphany came prior to a meeting with ABC News' Barbara Fedida back in 2011. She explained how she dressed herself up in slimming black and asked Fedida what she thought of her looks. Bit of a mistake. Johnson recently wrote in the 'New York Post' about the meeting: "I tried to remain composed, certain she was about to move in for the kill: How could you expect to be on TV when you've let yourself go? You knew this day would come, right? Not once did she call me fat, say I had to lose weight, or hint that my job was in jeopardy. But what I did hear was, 'Lose weight, or lose your job'."

These days, beauty is not a bonus – it's essential for success. A recent study sent over 1,000 fake CVs to job vacancies. All CVs had similar qualifications but the genders, names and pictures were different. The study found that attractiveness played an enormous part in the likelihood of the applicant proceeding to the second stage of the recruitment process. The average callback rate for all of the CVs was 30pc. But attractive women were called back 54pc of the time. Most significantly, unattractive women only had a 7pc callback rate.

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