Mon, Dec 19, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Showgirl craze shows no sign of fading

PROMOTIONAL VALUE Some people question whether using beautiful young women to attract consumers to exhibitions sends the wrong message

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Showgirls dance and pose in this photo taken on Dec. 9 at a car show in Tainan County.

PHOTO: WU CHUN-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

If you think that the most popular attraction at car shows and information technology exhibitions are the concept cars and avant-garde computers, think again. Exhibition-goers appear drawn not so much by the products as to what stands next to these items.

Battling your way through huge crowds of photographers gone wild and lots and lots of men to see what all the fuss is about and you find showgirls.

In Taiwan, the models hired to work at car shows and product exhibitions are called "showgirls," whereas in the West, showgirls are dancers in theaters, nightclubs and cabarets.

In the past two years, the number of showgirls has been on the rise, as more companies turn to beautiful and scantily clad young women who will attract more consumers to their exhibition booths.

But many people are worried that the use of these young women, who are usually between the ages of 18 to 22, is not a healthy trend.

Peng Huai-chen (彭懷真), a professor of sociology at National Tunghai University, said that the showgirl phenomenon is an indication of excessive marketing.

Product-promotion and marketing are necessary but lately with the modeling and showgirl trend, women are in danger of becoming products themselves at these exhibitions, he said.

Peng said he was worried that the public would treat showgirls like products, giving them a value that is connected to the products they are promoting.

"Good marketing targets what consumers want. Consumers don't need to see beautiful girls at car or computer exhibitions, they can see beauty elsewhere," he said.

"The main focus of the shows should be the products, not the women," he said.

One of the reasons that the number of showgirls has rocketed recently is that more adolescents feel the need to work since they do not receive as much allowance from their parents nowadays, Peng said.

With the pressure to work, adolescents weigh the salary of different jobs, and decide on modeling because they believe it to be a glamorous job, Peng said.

"The media often show only the glamorous side of being a showgirl," he said.

Some showgirls have also been "deceived" by the glamor.

Nicole Hsu, age 22, felt that the time she worked as a showgirl when she was 20 was a waste of time.

"We were like betel-nut beauties in skimpy vinyl outfits," she said.

Hsu said that at first she thought that being a showgirl would validate her own beauty and it had seemed like a dream job.

However, she said the salary was not really a lot considering the hours she had to stand on her feet.

"Sometimes I had to stand six to seven hours at a time, and in the winter, we still had to wear those skimpy outfits," she said.

Hsu said that her agency wanted her to go on variety shows, in addition to the modeling work.

"I was tired of it. So I quit, and now I'm back to studying," Hsu said. "Most of my male friends don't like showgirls anyway. The whole thing was not worthwhile."

However, other women think the showgirl job is worthwhile.

Eli Hsiao, 26, worked as a model and showgirl from the age of 19 to 26.

"It was easy money, and it didn't require a high education," Hsiao said. "If you do six shows per day you get around NT$5,000, and being an MC [master of ceremonies] you earn NT$12,000 a day."

Hsiao first worked as a magazine and runway model before being chosen by Suzuki to be the MC for one of their shows.

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