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Female flight attendants on Cathay Pacific recently won the right to wear pants on the job. But where do the airlines of India stand in this regard?
As we celebrate the victory of the female flight attendants on Cathay Pacific, let’s take a moment to think about our own country’s situation.
In 2015, India’s most reputed government airline, Air India, introduced a change in their uniform to allow western formals for women and more contemporary designs for men. The women now had three different uniforms to choose from – traditional bright yellow sari with a red border, a long black jacket with trousers, and a yellow kurta with black trousers. At first glance, this may seem like a great move, after all, saris, like skirts are not comfortable for everyone (or safe – they are hard to move in, in the event of an emergency landing), and forcing female attendants to wear them is unfair.
Interestingly though, the female flight attendants themselves protested against the change saying that it was a waste of time and money. Especially because it came at a time when Air India didn’t have much money and the attendants’ jobs were under threat. What was the real reason for this change in their uniform? Air India simply wanted to increase its profits and changing its uniforms was a step in that direction, because western outfits are perceived as more ‘modern’ and having a wider appeal. As a result, the change was yet another way of using people as tools to promote a particular image and wasn’t empowering to women at all.
On the 6th of February, 2017, SpiceJet – another popular Indian airline – brought about a change in their staff’s uniforms to make them, “Redder, Hotter and Spicier.” They were thinking along the same lines as Air India did in 2015, i.e., they were trying to give themselves an image makeover. And the female staff were the ones who they concentrated on making ‘sexier’. Here is a description of the uniform of the female flight attendants:
“For instance, the summer wear for the female cabin crew will include a one-piece dress. They will be attired in a short shift dress, cut and sewn and detailed with accessory elements like a sling bag and box heels; for service, besides a pinafore inspired apron.”
SpiceJet’s idea was to sell their brand by selling women’s ‘sexiness’. You can see this in the image below, note the sharp contrast between the ‘sexiness’ of the male and female uniforms, which I sourced from the article cited immediately above.
These are not the only two cases of Indian airlines trying to use their female flight attendants (by giving them a particular dress code) as selling points. Fashion has often been given importance over function, especially when it comes to women. Whether a uniform is comfortable and safe for the female flight attendants is often overlooked in favour of making them look good for the passengers.
Advertising a woman’s sexuality in places where such an advertisement is not necessary, is not a new method. And it is used by airlines too, to attract potential passengers. But isn’t it high time we changed that?
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My house-help asked excitedly, “I am going for wedding. Can you let me wear your red & black saree? To be honest I was stumped for a moment; I didn’t know what to say but I still said yes.
I lent a gorgeous saree to my house-help for a wedding in her family. Soon I stated getting questions if I would wear that saree again or if I was okay to be seen wearing the same saree my house-help was wearing?
We are all so conditioned to give our used clothes to our house-helps but are we okay to wear the clothes they were wearing?
A few days ago she came excitedly to me, “I am going for a family wedding. I want to wear your red & black saree, Ill wash and give it to you after the function. Please can you let me wear it?”
Beauty is a very clever, very evil capitalist tool. It traps those who have it into hanging on to it for dear life and those who don't into mutilating, torturing themselves to achieve the unachievable.
I recently wrote a piece about MP Shashi Tharoor’s tweet in which he had shared a pic with six women parliamentarians tagging them and saying “Who says the Lok Sabha isn’t an attractive place to work?”
There was a rash of comments on the post shared on Instagram, which ranged from “chill, it’s just a compliment” and “stop overthinking compliments”, to (worried) men lamenting about “these feminazi”.
Here’s my answer to all those comments.
Challenging the status of widows in India is not just a function of legislation - but something all of us can do.
Guest Blogger Rita Banerji is a writer and photographer. She’s the author of Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies, a historical look at how India’s perceptions of gender, sex and sexuality have led to the ongoing female genocide. She’s also the founder of The 50 Million Missing, an online campaign to raise awareness about India’s female genocide. Her website is www.ritabanerji.com Twitter handle: @rita_banerji
By 2030 India will have annihilated 20% of its female population – killed at every stage of life, before and after birth, for one reason only: because they are female!
What can individuals do to help stop this horrific genocide? This is the question that I am most frequently asked as director of The 50 Million Missing, a campaign I founded in 2006, to raise awareness about India’s ongoing female genocide.
Dress codes for Indian women in college often feel antiquated, designed as they are to enforce 'modesty' rather than allow for expression.
Dress codes for Indian women in college often feel antiquated, designed as they are to enforce ‘modesty’ rather than allow for expression.
Dress codes in the form of uniforms are mandatory in almost every school in India. Usually, there are distinct dress codes for boys and girls. Once we graduate to college and become adults, we expect these these dress codes to be dropped. This allows us to express ourselves and dress as we want to.
However, this is not the case with all the universities and colleges. Even today, some colleges in India have strict dress codes, especially for women. This may include wearing salwar kurta and dupatta and that too of a specific length, and other specifications.