Many Asian and Middle Eastern airlines are building their brand image around the sexualized ideal of young and attractive female attendants.
However Virgin Atlantic announced that it would no longer require its female cabin crew to wear skirts or makeup while working marked a step forward in making appearance standards more equal between male and female staff. But why Asian Airlines aren’t following suit?
Asian Airlines Beauty Standards Remain Stuck In The Dark Ages
Strict Grooming and Makeup
Many Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, are known to require heavy makeup. Some Asian airlines only started allowing its cabin crew to wear glasses and nail art last year.
Female staff are still required to wear eyeshadow, lipstick, foundation, and blush at all times in specifically approved shades and to check it at regular intervals, according to an official guidebook.
Male staff, on the other hand, are banned from wearing makeup and are simply required to “maintain a clear complexion at all times.”
Vietnamese airline VietJet caused a furor last year when it sent bikini-clad women on a flight to greet the country’s under-23 football team.
The airline evidently didn’t learn its lesson from 2012, when it was fined by Vietnamese aviation authorities for staging a mid-flight dance by scantily-dressed women.
The Thailand-based low-cost Nok Air in 2013 rolled out a calendar featuring models from Maxim Magazine.
But it’s not just about bikinis.
Singapore Airlines prides itself on its iconic “Singapore Girl” who was created in the 1970s and in her conservatively-clad signature sarong kebaya.
She’s the heart of the carrier’s brand—in fact, to many, Singapore Girl is Singapore Airlines. As a corporate emblem, Singapore Girl has been wildly successful for the airline, a representation of Asian hospitality in all its charm, graciousness, warmth, and efficiency.
“But critics see her as a sexist marketing tool, reinforcing stereotypes of subservient Asian women.”
There needs to be a greater public and staff awareness to fully address the issue of gender inequality and sexual harassment in the industry.
Are we going to see more airlines making appearance standards more equal between male and female staff?