Thursday, July 16, 2009

The never ending clothing-go-round

Oh, women and clothes ... endless (and often pointless) hours have been spent talking about you. Everyone weighs in on the topic, whether they realize it or not -- "Hey, did you see that shirt Soandso was wearing? Helllloooo cleavage!" -- and while most of the comments are harmless, or even complimentary, it does occasionally get ugly. Right or wrong, people get judged by what they wear and judge others on the basis of clothes (and hair, shoes, etc.). It's been going on for decades (centuries?), and it's never going to stop. I know I'm guilty of it, though I do try not to care what other people think about my clothes. So what if I wear a T-shirt and jeans every day? It doesn't mean I can't look "nice," it just means "nice" takes too much effort in the morning.

But thanks to Delta Airlines, an interesting conversation is brewing about women and their clothes. Well, in particular, about "heavier" flight attendants and their uniforms. An airline union is protesting the fact that Delta doesn't offer its red flight attendant dress -- the one pictured here -- in any size higher than 18. (Delta also has a policy that "
flight attendants who wear orthopedic shoes must wear slacks and not a skirt or dress. Those that wear the orthopedic shoes must obtain a doctor's note." Sigh.) It's not hard to infer that Delta wouldn't really mind if any of their flight attendants bigger than a size 18 would be so kind as to not do something noticeable, like wear a red dress.

Of course, I don't know Delta's exact reason for cutting off the dress size at 18; I'm sure they could cite some kind of production process or cost, if they were pressed. All I've seen them say is this (from the above article):

Delta said its uniforms fall under its company policy and that most flight attendants from Northwest like the uniforms. Flight attendants can wear other pieces including slacks, tops and blue dresses in larger sizes. "It's a variety to fit a very diverse group of preferences and sizes, and to continue presenting a uniform collection that is both stylish and very functional," said Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.
Besides the obvious implications of Delta's dress policy ("fat" women are women too, employees should be treated equally, flight attendants aren't sex objects, if everyone can't wear a uniform, why have it?, etc.), I have to ask ... does anyone who travels a lot actually care about the flight attendants' uniforms? Wouldn't everyone getting on a plane prefer that the flight attendants were comfortable, first and foremost, in clothing that is easy to get around in? What is the point of having any of them wear dresses and/or heels? Not to say that they can't, and maybe this is just my own aversion to dresses and heels, but as a passenger on a plane I'm probably wearing the most comfortable thing I own that isn't pajamas. To actually work on a plane, well, I wouldn't be so thrilled over a dress. Sign me up for that doctor's note for the comfy shoes, too.

Regardless, this needs to be addressed by Delta, whether they allow everyone to wear it, or no one. Size 18 is a pretty arbitrary size, it would seem, to say anyone bigger than that can't wear it. Maybe they should've thought about this issue before the dress became one of their uniform options. Someone was going to protest sooner or later. Here's an interesting note though, on why that protest is happening now, even though the dress has been around for a while:
Although the policies on the sizes of the red dress and the orthopedic shoes with slacks are not new at Delta, the flight attendants from Delta are not represented by a union. The merger with Northwest has brought the flight attendant union from that carrier, along with its grievance process, in contact with policies at the mostly non-union Delta.
Ah. Unions. Good for them!

For another look at this Delta uniform story, check out Meghan Harvey
's post at Politics Unlocked. She has a great take on the subject.

And if you think you can stomach it, watch this clip of an "anti-obesity advocate"
being interviewed by Stuart Varney on Fox News. Gotta say, this is one of the rare times that Fox News comes out the winner. Varney really lets her have it, and rightfully so.

A couple other recent stories about women and clothing, not related to any airline:
And not so much clothing related, but definitely worth mentioning because I love stuff like this: "Feminist brides saying 'I do' to creating own traditions" (from the Houston Chronicle).

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