This past weekend, United Airlines stopped two teenage girls and a child to change clothes because they were wearing leggings.
It’s reported that leggings “were not appropriate travel attire”, via The New York Times. The father of the young girl was also reportedly wearing above-the-knee shorts and was left alone.
United has defended this decision of policing female’s choice of dress by saying that it’s due to a policy for ‘pass travelers’, travelers that are using company benefits, either employees themselves or their families through standby tickets, tickets left over when a flight isn’t full.
United has said that pass travelers are ‘representing’ the company.
No. You do not get to dictate how anyone dresses in any situation as long as they’re not on the clock. Employee, dependant, or otherwise, this is unacceptable.
No, I’m not saying you can’t have a dress code for all your passengers or even a specified dress code for, specifically, on-the-clock flyers for your company. That’s perfectly fine.
But off-the-clock employees or their dependants? Unless they’re wearing a clear indicator that they’re an employee, which, by all means, have a policy that off-the-clock workers take such indicators off, they are not representatives.
They’re people who you have no control over.
If they’re wearing something offensive or hateful, well, that’s something to put in your overall dress code or employee policies on public expression ahead of time; but if it’s not those things, you can’t control what they wear in their own time.
(By ‘offensive’, I mean in poor taste; pasties and tassels, undergarments, swimsuits that aren’t ‘passable’ as ‘regular’ clothing, etc. Not leggings, which have become regular daily wear for women, and even men.)
Employees, once they are not on the clock or clearly indicating that they work for your company, are not representatives. They are not yours to dictate what they can and can’t dress like separate from other people.
Because, here’s something you probably don’t know, but those people that are pass travelers that aren’t employees or outwardly indicating representation of the company, no one else will know or even care what they’re dressed like.
When you’re at the airport, you’re there because you’re trying to get somewhere, not because you’re trying to socialize or ‘represent’ your company.
Unless parts of your body that, by public decency standards, are hanging out, you’re fine and no one cares except for those people who want to control every other person’s life and dress.
And you don’t kowtow to those people.
Going back to the little girl’s father who was wearing above-the-knee shorts, no one said anything to him. I’d argue that’s worse than leggings because he’s showing more skin and his underwear or even privates could be seen.
To make another point, I, prior to this point, anyway, fly United. And I’ve flown in above-the-knee shorts and pajama pants. Hell, I’ve worn slippers.
You could argue that I wasn’t a pass traveler, but, as I pointed out, that doesn’t matter in the slightest.
So what’s the real issue here?
Oh, wait! I know what it is!! He’s male and they’re female.
There’s the issue! It’s good old-fashioned sexism.
They’re wearing leggings and being sexualized because of it, even though they’re teenagers and a child.
This is at the heart of most, if not all, dress codes anywhere. Male and females have wildly different standards in regards to dress.
From school to business, females are overtly sexualized and controlled via their sartorial sense where men are not.
Females are given more restrictions, are held to them more strictly, and are punished more severely if they don’t adhere to these unfair limitations.
There’s no other word than sexism for this.
If females can’t wear leggings, neither can males. If females can’t wear shorts above the knee, neither can males. If females can’t show their chests, neither can males.
Let’s reverse this to make it more empowering.
If males can show their chests, so can women. If males can wear short shorts, so can women. If men can wear leggings, so can women.
While, yes, male and females wear different clothing, they should both be held to the same standards where applicable, which is everywhere because clothing is irrelevant.
Clothing isn’t gendered or has a personal preference as to who can and can’t wear it, aside from how it was made and for what body type it was made for. Wear what you please.
Equality doesn’t discriminate or place different standards on case-by-case bases. That’s why it’s equality.