Friday, December 08, 2006

Here's another impact of globalization: Height

We know that people want to do business with, hire, promote, marry or otherwise hang with the attractive. Studies have raged through universities asking the question "What is 'good looking' and how do we know?"

This story from the New Zealand Herald showed that doctors in China are beginning to balk in huge numbers from requests to perform height surgery -- breaking the legs of their clients, affixing steel cages around the break point and keeping the gap between the two broken ends opened up while it heals and the bone fills in. This process can add up to 3 inches per can also leave them with horrible deformities or amputated limbs if the surgery goes badly. Patients say that the pain is excruciating (remember that scene from Gattaca?)

Why do they do it? Oddly, job ads have been including height requirements, particularly for candidates seeking customer interaction positions, especially for those working with customers from parts of the world where people are taller.

Seems a little extreme to me. However, African Americans and others have been altering their appearance to gain acceptance for decades. However now we're learning that acceptance is hinged more on their competence rather than countenance. Still rumors of skin bleaching and hair extension procedures on black actresses fill some with sadness. And black businesses can be notorious for refusing to hire someone who may appear "too ethnic."

I remember working as a branch marketing assistant for a large multinational corporation who's initials stand for "I've Been Moved." One of the reps handed me a copy of John T. Molloy's New Dress for Success and told me not to deviate from it. Hated that book.

I wonder what the impact will be long-term on business and professional relationships. Will the short find themselves backwatered into low wage jobs? And what will the country do about an increasing number of disabled and disfigured workers who endured failed surgeries?