I nearly fell out of my seat recently after noting the New Zealand Herald’s website’s heading over photos of three grimacing All Blacks. Unbelievably it read, “Why are these Kiwi Rugby Stars so Ugly?”

Certainly they were no film stars but my God that’s bloody rich coming from print journalists who one would think would stay well clear of such a topic. Here’s why.

Three years ago Auckland University’s Psychology Department produced a study of the relationship of occupations to good looks, the latter factor based on generally accepted criteria. What they found came as no surprise.

The bottom category of the 80 occupations in the study, that is the ugliest, showed 78th place were stop-go sign holders, in 79th , prison inmates, if that can be deemed an occupation, and in last place were newspaper journalists who rated on the grotesque scale, far in excess of any other category.

There’s a very good reason for this. The journalist’s job often requires bailing up people for a grilling. Experience has found that by far the best results are achieved if the bailing up process begins with a huge shock factor, best achieved by the reporter being hideous to a gargoylish degree. This numbs the targeted victim into a semi-comatose state and before they can come to their senses, they’ve spilled the beans and said something they later regret.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, the study showed that by a country mile, by far the best looking occupation category was commercial property investors. No surprise there as doubtless readers already know that. Botanists and astronomers also scored well.



While the above may surprise readers who are not public figures and fortunately unfamiliar with print journalists, there are other precedents.

For example, Winston Peters made a decision in the early 1990s never to talk to the print media, he arguing it was not part of his MP’s job description to tolerate being confronted by gargoyles and thus spoil his day. But the most interesting example came from Air New Zealand. In my 1981 book “Travelling” I recounted a problem Air New Zealand’s predecessor NAC confronted in the late 1960s when commercial flying began to take off in New Zealand.

Initially they sought very pretty girls as air hostesses. This led to a problem arising, specifically that following 3 months training, once on the job the girls never lasted long. Research showed their good looks were the problem for they were being non-stop propositioned by younger blokes and understandably, if the fellow hitting on them appealed, therein arose a difficulty. For the nature of their job posed practical difficulties date-wise, thus they all kept resigning.

The NAC bosses came up with a solution. Henceforth they only employed fat or ugly girls, not print journalist scale grotesques mind you as that obviously would be destructive as passengers fled to rail, but certainly pretty rough. This led to much adverse comment thus the experiment was soon abandoned. Thereafter the job criterion appearance-wise, was pleasant looking but stunner-avoidance.

All of that is absolutely true. I can actually give the date it was out-lined to me by the NAC boss, specifically the 9th April, 1967 at a dinner party.

When I wrote “Travelling” obviously if it was still the airline’s policy to employ crones I would not have mentioned this but I made it clear it had been a short-lived strategy 15 years earlier. Despite that a huge row broke out. I was assailed on flights by air-hostesses, one even throwing her shoe at me when I was leaving the plane in Dunedin. And on several occasions half-witted pilots, when informed I was on board, made sarcastic comments on the intercom that they hoped their air-hostesses were to my satisfaction. I forgave them because as a general rule pilots are fairly dim and I speak with authority having bought my first private jet back in 1987.

But what really got my goat was Air New Zealand’s then high-profile Chairman Morrie Davis issuing a statement saying it was a load of nonsense. I came back firing and for a time the press played all of this up.

At the time the Egyptian Ambassador in Wellington was a bloke called Dr Sorour who enjoyed hosting luncheons, having like most ambassadors, bugger all to do. And on that I speak from experience, currently having over thirty as lessees in my buildings.

Anyway, like all Arabs Sorour had a great sense of humour with a tendency to mischief-making. In the midst of this furore he invited me to lunch. On arrival I found there was another guest, no less that Morrie Davis who hitherto I had not met.

Over lunch I ripped into Morrie for his denial statement. He told me that once the uproar broke out he’d investigated and found the ugly air-hostess experiment was true, albeit a short-lived trial, as in fact I’d said. But as he pointed out, he was dealing with simpleton employees (pilots and air-hostesses) and felt he had no choice but to deny it. Probably he was right.


One Comment

Haha! Very good Bob. Keep up the blogging, we all miss your columns.

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