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Sexist Airline Industry: How Sexism Breeds In The Sky


In 2004, Air India rejected a lot of its applicants who had applied for the recruitment of 400 new flight attendants. Reason? They had pimples and scars on their skin.

The airline industry flourishes on sexism, which it so blatantly uses that people have absolutely no problem with it.

Do you need a pretty-looking person or a perfectly well-trained one to ensure your safety when you’re miles off the ground?

The silence that we share when flight attendants are discounted from the discussions on sexism, represents either our ignorance towards these small issues or our acceptance of sexism as a part of routine, or what we sometimes call, “a part of their job”.

Here are some of the ways that the airline industry upholds sexism on their flight attendants:

Pretty flight attendants on advertisements

Are you promoting the services of your airlines or chic women, looking no less than a prototype for a runway model? Airlines fetishise women through their advertisements. So much so that it has become a norm today.

Mallya with his cabin crew
Vijay Mallya with his cabin crew. What is he advertising, really?

I understand that employees are a part of the advertisement campaign to any other organization (take any university for that matter), but airlines go one step ahead to depict them as an added bonus to flying with the airlines. Female flight attendants become “a part of the service” and not the “secondary service provider”.

If this is not sexism, if this is not objectification, what is it?

Also read: Mallya Arrested And Out On Bail But Will He Return The Money: DEmystifier

No practical uniform

I’d certainly not go with a scuba diver who only has a breathing equipment with herself/himself because one should always be prepared for what the sea has to offer. You need to have a proper, comfortable body gear which will tackle any underwater complication.

Thinking of that, I wonder how no one sees that female flight attendants really need a smarter, more practical uniform.

Air India, dress code
How comfortable will a saree be in an emergency?

You might agree that these people are trained well and one should not judge their dexterity by the way they dress, but the thing is, you need to have a uniform which allows movement.

One needs to have a body gear that will enable them to attend to maximum people in the minimum amount of time. I don’t know how that can be achieved wearing pencil skirts.

Some real talent, maybe?

Also, by downplaying a practical uniform for women (while men have an appropriate one), airlines downplay the safety of air hostesses. It is basically a way of saying – “We value your face more.”

Tall, fair and slim

Some of the three struggles of women – the constant societal pressure to look pretty.

For air hostesses, makeup is necessary. It is never a matter of choice.

If you have read the recruitment advertisements for air hostesses anywhere, you’ll realize that these advertisements are laced with adjectives like “hospitality”, “soft skills” and along with that they have to be beautiful and fair.

Sexist flight attendant advertisement
If you don’t believe me, take a look yourself.

Matlab, it is inherently assumed that if you are not beautiful, you cannot have any of these internal qualities.

Looks do matter in a corporate setting, that is something no one can escape. But there are people speaking against that kind of sexism. When it comes to air hostesses, there is silence. Again.

If sitting eight hours a day is work for you, so is attending to hundreds of people their job as well. The acne on your face will have little effect on your efficiency at the workplace.

Airlines don’t stop at that GoAir came up with a bizarre justification for hiring thin flight attendants – they wanted to cut costs for air travel so that it is accessible to everyone, and the solution was to hire thin flight attendants so that the load on the airlines will cost less as every extra kilo on the aircraft costs Rs 3.

This is discriminatory towards men. It makes their sole goal to hire more female flight attendants and leave men to the periphery, whereas in reality, men should ideally have equal opportunity and equal rights to be employed as cabin crew.

This discrimination has to stop. It only reinforces sexism at workplace.

Image Credits: Google Images

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