We are back with FlippED! And this time our two Bloggers are fighting (we seem to do that a lot) about whether the Air India directive was misogynistic or just a business move.
Air India Air Hostesses Asked To be Fit and Presentable to Be Allowed to Stay on the Job – What’s Wrong In That?
“Can you believe what they just said?”
So said thousands of gobsmacked Indians when they read the headlines. Wasn’t labeling air hostesses as waitresses enough that now they are being body shamed? What is being physically fit anyways?
Do you mean to say that the average staff in Air India wasn’t all that fit until now?
Okay, I am asking really baseless questions here.
The funny thing is this agenda from Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal is becoming a point of discussion in the news. What strikes me is how in trying to further the wellness quotient of his corporation, he may be inviting misinterpretations to his idea of having a robust workforce.
Who am I to whine about oppressive company cultures if my boss advises sleeping well at night?
Taking care of one’s body is extremely important for the optimal productivity of any employee. An organization that spends enough to maintain a huge employee base may expect its employee to maintain peak productivity levels. And that is what the Air India comment meant, staff and cabin crew need to ensure that they are physically competent to be alert at what one can easily say a very demanding job.
It is not offensive. It is not body shaming. It is an employer addressing the productivity levels of employees.
So before the comment is taken out of context and misconstrued, can we please take a moment and remember how amazing we feel at work on that day when our body and mind are doing amazingly well?
It’s an open and shut case of imposing body norms on women, that’s it!
Air India has had its share of hate, from all the jokes about fat aunties and bad food to all the other jokes about fat aunties and bad food, it has been relentlessly beaten up in the public sphere. And alas, one more thing has been added to its list of missteps.
We understand that you needed to spruce up your airline to attract passengers, but this was not the way. This kind of a statement asking women to be “fit and presentable” only espouses the current state of patriarchy and misogyny that exists and also propounds the unrealistic body standards that we impose on ourselves and then crib about.
This goes for all jobs which require certain body standards to qualify. Let me give you an example, in my college, we have a fashion societies which advertised that boys must be 5’8” to qualify for auditions and girls must be at least 5’3”.
What these kinds of imposition or barriers do is create divides, no matter how many analogies you draw with ‘it’s a skill set’ or that ‘some jobs also require certain physical abilities, you won’t send a weakling for wrestling’, they won’t stand.
Because in cases like this, where standards are manufactured and do not preexist and are manufactured in such a way as to discriminate by classifying one section as better, well that’s not done.
It creates a negative impact on society, this divide, this elitism. You leave out significant portions of the population and segment them into this psychological and physiological cesspool where they doubt themselves and pursue fruitless endeavors.
Secondly, even if you do accept the fact, however grudgingly that beauty is indeed a criterion in the modern air hostess selection process, it definitely should not be the top one.
This is because air hostesses are highly professional staff who are part food servers and part rescue men and women and part paramedics, as they are trained to carry out rescue operations and first aid in emergencies. They also are well versed in the technicalities of aircraft and air travel.
So if you take a dumb but strikingly beautiful set of girls or boys for your aircrew, then you might get a lot of passengers, but you sure as hell won’t be able to guarantee their safety.
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