Giving new meaning to a pyramid scheme, a recent New York Times article discussed how the pharmaceutical industry hires college cheerleaders as its drug representatives.
"They don't ask what the major is," T. Lynn Williamson, a cheering advisor for University of Kentucky, said of the drug companies who turn to the school to find pompom pill pushers.
Of course, the pharmaceutical giants would have us believe it's coincidental that their reps look like runway models. Lambert Amoretti, a spokesperson for Bristol-Myers Squibb said that hiring cheerleaders "has nothing to do with looks, it's the personality."
And all this time I thought it was portly gals, such as Ricky Lake circa Hairspray, who had the great personalities. I guess you learn something new every day.
Not everyone is buying the silly spin.
"There is a saying that you'll never meet an ugly drug rep," The University of Michigan's Dr. Thomas Carli told the Times.
Before we get upset at the pharmaceutical companies, we should look in the mirror. The most important decisions we often make have more to do with the superficial than the serious. For example, author Malcolm Gladwell wrote in "Blink," his best selling book, that when it comes to choosing CEOs, the size of the body is more important that that of the brain:
"In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or taller. Among CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more striking, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are six foot two or taller. Among my CEO sample, almost a third were six foot two or taller."
No wonder why Ross Perot is nuts and Napoleon had a complex! They had to overcome incredible odds. If you apply this to presidential politics it seems that platform shoes matter more than the actual platform. Which just goes to show how inept the Kerry campaign was, with the taller man coming up short.
Unattractive people also have the misfortune of being less memorable. Another Times article points out "the power of a 'distinctive face' often renders actors who possess them paradoxically anonymous. Filmgoers are frequently unable to remember their names, even if they can describe their roles."
On the opposite side of the spectrum, attractive people have to overcome the perception that they are stupid. I call this the Dan Quayle syndrome. "Hey, let's put the hot Midwestern Senator on the ticket who can't spell potato. What a great idea!"
Attractive people also have to deal with sexual impropriety. Sure, they have an easier time getting a foot in the door. Unfortunately, some clients think it's the door to the bedroom. An informal survey conducted by a doctor in Pittsburgh found that 12 out of the 13 medical saleswomen said physicians had sexually harassed them.
The question we must ask, is what will become of these women when their pompoms turn into bonbons and their splits into banana splits? Will sexy gay bartenders be driven to drink and Hooters girls left to bitterly gnaw on wings when they begin to look more like the customers they serve?
If it is okay to hire based on looks, than it is okay to fire? Federal law is silent on the matter of discrimination based on appearance, although a case is winding its way through the courts.
A West Virginia surgeon and lawmaker wants to call off the eye candy and require all drug reps to have science degrees. I'm sure he'll be real popular at the next annual convention!
A new cult movie on Quantum Physics, "What the Bleep Do We Know," suggests that we are programmed to be shallow. (Of course, this is the same movie that interviews Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a quack that says Prozac may "cure" homosexuals.) In vivid detail, the film shows how seeing someone attractive floods our bloodstream with massive amounts of endorphins - the body's version of smack. In a physiological sense, we are junkies and the pharmaceutical companies, wise to our weaknesses, are using hotties and hunks to give us our daily fix.
I revamped my resume this afternoon and had to wonder if my most effective references weren't my personal trainer and hair stylist. In today's world, if an employer calls back and is interested in a second look, you have to take this literally, or at face value, so to speak. And if all else fails, just look at the interviewer and blurt out: "Gooooo Team!!!!!"
I thought you weren't going to post until the 5th?
posted by Anonymous, at
1/03/2006 7:25 PM
Haha, if I get 2 inches taller, it really might increase the chance of me to become a CEO, haha...
Unfortunately this is so true and men are hard-wired to be the worst offenders when it comes to looksism. I remember reading in a sociology textbook in college that an experiment was done in which people were shown a picture of one of either 2 boys; one was cute and the other fat and homely. The test person was told that the boy had thrown stones at a dog (a bogus story) and how should he be punished. Across the board the homely kid received much harsher suggestions for punishment, while the attitude towards the cute kid was more like 'boys will be boys'. But, as Wayne said, there are downsides to being beautiful; besides being considered sex machines, a cop told me once that good looking people are MORE likely to get a ticket since the police know that they are used to getting away with stuff. There is an element of personal taste of course, I think Adrian Brody is hot, even though you could use his nose as a two-car garage. Gary (NJ)
posted by Anonymous, at
1/04/2006 10:23 AM
Dr Satinover is full of shit! I've been on prozac since 1993 and am still as gay as a meadow in May.
posted by Anonymous, at
1/04/2006 10:53 AM
This is exactly why I bring up breast implants as one of those imponderable pursuits women go through. And make analogies to it and pursuing heterosexuality, if you happen to have started out gay.
These things have nothing to do with the qualities of a person and too much worth is placed on going from gay to straight, or small to large breasted. the industries invested in these folks exploit serious insecurity and the slimmest of maladjustment. Or too much war is declared for superficialities.
I have become a lookism rebel (shaved my head, never wear make up or form fitting clothes EXCEPT at work in a show). I live in and have worked in an intensely lookist industry (entertainment).
I'd just as soon blend into the wall, there are some loons out there who do objectify you and your body and lose sight of the fact that you have feelings with and about it that are personal. This women know well. It's a scary world when you can attract attention without trying.
Which is why I'll NEVER understand people who work overtime to get attention with outrageous physical attributes or crude stunts (forget having BRAINS and TALENT to get over with).
I don't mind people guessing easily that I am a dancer. A lot of sweat and discipline earned that form of attention. But there will be those pursuing careers or easy ins for being pretty, who want accolades without the more competitive work ethic that earns them.
I was the target of harassment and work sabotage by someone who didn't know me, but was at once envious and hateful of me for being better than she was at everything. Looks included. It was an awful and seriously destructive thing in what should have been a fun situation. I managed to endure it, but it cost me a lot.
Ugly people who don't bother to cultivate (any more than pretty people) a winning personality or work discipline could be trouble and I don't admire anyone at either extreme who don't do the right thing. But get just get by, by any means necessary.
posted by Regan, at
1/04/2006 12:57 PM
Lets face it, we live in probably the most superficial society on earth. The blue-eyed blonde syndrome is still the norm in Hollywood. We are a nation of fads, here today, gone tomorrow. Its rife throughout the entire society. There is no respect for the less than glamorous and no respect for tradition or history. We are indeed one screwed-up society on this and many other issues, sexuality being one of the most prominent.
Unfortunatelly, a lot what is included in the article is true, and people "buy-in" the idea that looks are the reflecton or who is better or worse:
a) In an study conducted with networks like fox (spit), it was shown that, while Hanity (the Republican is all clean cut and cute, Colmes, (The Liberal) is not very atractive and looks all hippish... and people get the idea that to be a liberal one have to be all non-fashionable and ugly...
b) When I took a course on public speaking I was told that, people audiences take 15 seconds to "scan" a participant, judge hair, clothes, race and posture; and based on that (wheter accuarate or not) individuals make a picture of social background, education, family and values.
c) When I was growing up, I heard ENDLESS times frases like "long hair ifs for junkies" "Thigh pants are for fags" "Small skirts are for whores" "white people are better" etc.and after all that non-sense... can I even wonder why do we live in a shalow society?
d) Last but no least, I know MANY pharmaceutical reps, and yes, the agree that you don't apply for the job, you AUDITION for it, kist like in other jobs, like skills building trainer, and in some cases even Pastor... yes, people in communities of faith want someone "apealing" so, is not about been a good preacher, or counselor, is about been cute!(and not looking "gay" whatever that means...)
posted by Anonymous, at
1/04/2006 12:58 PM
"Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a quack that says Prozac may "cure" homosexuals.)"
You're kidding...seriously. My Gawd...I knew he had more than a few peculiar ideas, but that is unbelievable. :O
I think the pharmaceutical industry needs to take a long hard look at itself. On the one hand, modern medicine undoubtedly saves many lives. On the other, anything that makes rich people richer is always going to be easily corrupted.
I've always been in IT Management and this blog reminds me of the Telecom vendor several years ago who used a similiar *technique* to generate sales. All of their Sales Reps looked as if they should be accompanying Hugh Heffner instead of pushing Telecom Services. (If you know what I mean)
None of them really understood their product or really what they were selling ...when you engaged them technically ... their hook was simply to get a scheduled follow-up call with a Sales Engineer that would handle all of the *Technical Stuff* for them.
It always amused me at how hard they tried to generate my interest - the skirts always got shorter the blouses tighter and exposing more and more. HEHEHEHE ... little did they know they were barking up the wrong tree here!
Funny - this scheme backfired with me in their case. I never purchased any of their products. Guess maybe if they would've sent in a different "rep" ... whose to say.
I'd like to think I'm not a shallow person. But *sex* sells products if marketed to the right segment. Madison Ave has it down pat and our culture is a byproduct of years of it. Big Pharm ain't doing nothing new unfortunately.
I'm not a proponet of it ... just an amused observer.
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