The research study "Anthropometry of Airline Stewardesses"
consists of detailed body measurements of 423 stewardess trainees. It was paid for by the FAA and released in March 1975. The trainees were from the American Airlines Stewardess Training Academy in Fort Worth, Texas.
The justification for the study was that knowing the body measurements of stewardesses might help engineers design better seats and safety equipment for them. But what the study really seems to demonstrate is that in the early 1970s airline stewards were expected to be young, thin, female, and single. None were older than 28. None weighed more than 145 lb. Only 26 were divorced. The rest had never been married.
The study attracted the scorn of Senator William Proxmire. Details from a Reuters article in The Calgary Herald
(Aug 21, 1975):
A $57,800 study has told the government that stewardesses all stack up differently — from nose widths to knee fits and various areas in between.
Senator William Proxmire says the disclosures neither enlighten nor amuse him.
The Wisconsin Democrat said today the report, with detailed measurements on 423 stewardess trainees for American Airlines, was another case of taxpayers' money spent on discovering the obvious. "It seems like a bust to me," he said...
Seventy-nine individual body measurements were taken as part of the study, and some, the senator said, seemed unnecessary or irrelevant.
"Detailed measurements were made of body features such as the skinfold of the upper arm and the posterior calf, the vertical height of the sphyrion, the popliteal length of the buttocks, the transverse distance between the centres of the anterior superior iliac spines, the knee-to-knee breadth while sitting, the maximum horizontal width of the jaw across the gonial angles, and the height of the nose," he said.
There were too many deviations among even general measurements of young trainees to help designers of airline equipment, he argued.
Their weights ranged from 94 to 145 pounds, heights from five feet one inch to six feet one inch, busts from 29 to 37.5 inches and waists from 21 to 28 inches.
The senator concluded: "About all that can be said to aircraft designers is that stewardesses are young women with the body measurements of young women."