Travel Guide

The Singapore Girl

In Her face is famous, but is it ours?, Audrey Chin describes Singapore Girls passing by in a Los Angeles Airport - “...the girls flutter in. Heads turn at the long-necked creatures drifting by gracefully in blue slippered feet, some showing off their hour glass figures in their Balmain kebayas, others elegantly wrapped in dark blue winter cloaks”.

You may recognise her in airports around the world, but who exactly is the Singapore Girl, and why has she captured the hearts of Singaporeans and travellers alike?

The Singapore Girl is the iconic stewardess of Singapore Airlines, Singapore's national carrier. She evokes the distinctive image of the slim, sweet, smiling Asian girl, known for her warm hospitality  and her signature sarong kebaya, which was inspired by traditional Malay evening dress, and designed by Pierre Balmain, the famous French haute couture designer. The Singapore Girl is the centerpiece of the airline's image and branding, representing Singapore Airlines' world-class service standards that have established the airline as an acclaimed name in the industry.

As an Asian airline, Singapore Airlines has personified a commitment to a long tradition of gentle, courteous service in the Singapore Girl.  She is the epitome of beauty, elegance, and premier service – always with a smile, no questions asked. According to Ian Batey, creator of the Singapore Girl, her image is as such: “Physically, she has the attractive, natural look of most young Asian women, and her trim figure is ideal for the distinctive sarong kebaya uniform. Character-wise, she mirrors her Asian heritage – natural femininity, natural grace and warmth, and a natural, gentle way with people.” The Singapore Girl became so recognised that she was immortalised as the first commercial figure to be featured in the world-famous Madame Tussaud's Museum in 1994.

Singapore Girls in NYC
Singapore Girls

The Singapore Girl is also an icon of high class and prestige, perceived as a career of glamour - impeccably groomed women jet-setting the world. However, the real Singapore Girl is much more than what she is portrayed as. While people usually perceive the Singapore Girl to be tall, beautiful, poised and well-groomed, she is also smart, intelligent, adaptable, caring, well travelled, sociable and friendly. Careful recruitment and painstaking training ensure that only the best are chosen to wear the famous uniform. Those selected to be a Singapore Girl undergo a three-and-a-half month course where they learn, among other things, how to walk, sit, eat, style their hair, do their make-up, greet customers, serve food, and pour wine. Strict rules and regulations govern how they appear and conduct themselves, including hair, lips, jewellery, fingernails and toenails.

Although a majority of Singapore Girls are Chinese Singaporeans, there are hostesses of other races onboard as well, including Malays, Indians and Eurasians. With a route network reaching 60 destinations in 32 countries and with 668 weekly flights, Singapore Airlines employs around 6800 cabin crew to man their fleet of 89 aircraft. The company employs cabin crew from around the region – so the Singapore Girl is not always Singaporean. In fact, many Singapore Girls are Malaysian, with others from Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea and India. Nonetheless, every Singapore Girl is considered an ambassador of not just the airline, but Singapore as well.

As a dearly-loved and world-famous icon of Singapore Airlines and Singapore itself, the elegant Singapore Girl is set to continue taking to the skies with her beautiful smile, signature sarong kebaya and graceful hospitality, bringing the warmth of Singapore to places around the world.


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